In a week that saw the announcement of an exciting new step forward for Lotus Racing with the confirmation of a Red Bull Technology gearbox and hydraulics tie-up for F1 2011, sad news has followed with the death of former Team Lotus linchpin Peter Warr at the age of 72.
One of the most important people in the long history of one of the most illustrious teams ever to have graced the grand prix grid, Warr acted as team manager at Team Lotus under the legendary Colin Chapman from October, 1969, before departing for fresh pastures and later returning in 1981. He subsequently took over at the helm outright following Chapman's untimely death in December, 1982, and remained at Lotus until 1989 when he left to become a permanent FIA race steward and later secretary of the British Racing Drivers' Club (BRDC).
A natural leader, the former Royal Guards officer played a key role in helping to mastermind the world championship glories of Jochen Rindt and Emerson Fittipaldi in 1970 and 1972 respectively – the latter, incredibly, in only his second season of F1 at the time – and he was the man who boldly went against the wishes of Team Lotus' chief sponsor John Player & Sons (JPS) in signing Ayrton Senna in-place of Nigel Mansell for 1985.
His equally bold and colourful assertion that Mansell – with whom he endured a famously difficult relationship – would 'never win a grand prix as long as I have a hole in my ar*e' after the British star crashed out of the lead in Monaco in 1984, was somewhat less prophetic, however...
Warr was also a handy driver in his own right, competing in in sportscars and Formula Junior in his early years and going on to triumph in the non-championship 1963 Japanese Grand Prix at Mount Fuji in a Lotus 23, but his true expertise lay in team management. Aside from Team Lotus, he also worked with great success for Wolf – with Jody Scheckter winning on the team's top flight debut in the 1977 Argentine Grand Prix under Warr's guidance, and twice more later on in the campaign – and Fitipaldi following Wolf's merger with the eponymous Brazilian outfit at the end of the decade.
At the suggestion of Chapman's son Clive, a delighted Warr was invited to attend F1's 60th anniversary celebrations in Bahrain earlier this year, at which he was able to watch legends Fittipaldi and Mario Andretti drive the same iconic JPS-liveried cars with which they had clinched the title more than three decades earlier.
Warr sadly passed away after suffering a heart attack in southern France, to where he had retired following the end of his F1 career.
“Not only have I lost a good friend, but Peter will be missed by the thousands of people that knew him,” the sport's commercial rights-holder Bernie Ecclestone told the BBC
. “When Peter was in F1, he helped me to build it to what it is today. Thank you, Peter.”
“Peter was a great supporter of our racing aspirations, and it was fantastic to meet someone with such knowledge, spirit and passion for Lotus and for our sport,” added current Lotus Racing team principal Tony Fernandes.
All of us here at Crash.net
extend our deepest sympathies to Peter's family.