Posted December 20, 2014 by f1nut in Drivers

Up Close: Senna’s Team Lotus Contract

senna lotus contract
senna lotus contract

My previous post on online F1 contracts motivated me to take a look at what other interesting F1 contracts could be found online. If you’re a Senna fan – look no further than his 1987 driver contract with Team Lotus. This was the year Ayrton drove the 99T Camel Lotus Honda. His contract can be found on the Legacy Tobacco Document database operated by the University of California (link).

It makes great reading…it’s interesting to see what some of the driver’s duties to the team are and what kind of benefits they get (or used to get in the late ‘80s).

  • He was paid $US1.5m for the 1987 season and $US4,000 for each world championship point (Ayrton scored 57 points that year = $228,000)
  • If Ayrton won the 1987 drivers title – he would get a $250,000 bonus
  • Paid $40,000 to cover expenses attending races
  • Split awards (like champagne) 45:45:10 between Senna, Senna’s promotion company and his mechanics! (what a team player!)
  • Lotus paid for all of Senna’s living, travel and out of pocket expenses for races and events in Europe (anyone seen this year’s Red Bull video with Christian Horner having a dig at Daniel Ricciardo’s expense claims?)
  • requiring Senna to ‘personally endorse’ tobacco products!
  • Senna was allowed 4 personal non-competing sponsors on his race overalls
  • Senna wasn’t allowed to discuss driving in 1988 with any other team until 8 August 1987 (I’m guessing Ron Dennis was on his doorstep 6am on 9 August…or maybe it was Ayrton on Ron’s doorstep).
  • Lotus had to use best efforts to make the cars equal (Hello, Red Bull…)
  • Ayrton had number 1 driver status (I wonder what’s in Sebastian’s Ferrari contract?)
  • Ayrton would only drive for Lotus with Honda engines, sponsored by RJ Reynolds (Camel) and Gerard Ducarouge as chief engineer for 1987 (What team conditions are in Fernando’s 2015 McLaren Honda contract?…)
  • …and not allowed to go motor cycling, snow skiing or hand gliding!! (..but sky diving, bungee jumping, base jumping are all ok…)

Aside from this contract, if you’re looking for a good book to read on Ayrton’s Lotus tenure – look no further than the excellent Johnny Tipler book “Senna – the Team Lotus Years