The highly-publicised red one is now not the only bull at Formula 1 circuits all over the world. Instead you’ll find Lamborghini’s famous bull as part of the show as well, courtesy of the F1 Pirelli Hot Laps programme, which the Italian car manufacturer joins from this weekend.
Lamborghini’s Huracan Evo – based on the car that clinched the production car record at the epic Nuburgring Nordschleife in 2017, before being usurped by the Aventador SVJ last year – lines up alongside the established F1 Pirelli Hot Laps participants (AMG-Mercedes, Aston Martin and McLaren) from Silverstone onwards. It certainly makes a dramatic entrance: the Huracan Evo puts out more than 600 horsepower from its glorious V10 engine, catapulting itself from 0-100kph in less than three seconds.
At the wheel in Silverstone was five-time Le Mans winner Emanuele Pirro, every one of those victories taken at the wheel of an Audi: the parent group of Lamborghini.
After he stopped driving around a decade ago, the 57-year-Italian became an FIA steward: a classic example of poacher turning gamekeeper. But the competitive urge never quite goes away, judging from the spirited way in which Emanuele tackled one of the most demanding tracks on the Formula 1 calendar…
All the supercars on the F1 Pirelli Hot Laps programme – which allows people to experience what it’s like to be driven on a real grand prix circuit by a race driver during an F1 weekend – obviously run on P Zero tyres, but there’s a special connection between Pirelli and Lamborghini.
Since 1963, every car created by Ferruccio Lamborghini’s company has left the factory at Sant’Agata on Pirelli tyres – from the very first 350 GTV to the latest ones that broke records at the Nurburgring. Lamborghini is one of a select group of manufacturers – also including McLaren – that uses only Pirelli tyres as original equipment, which are designed in tandem with each of its models to best complement the inherent dynamics of the cars. It’s this shared development path that makes them such devastating weapons on the track.
While Lamborghini is brand new to Hot Laps, it’s far from new to motorsport. Together with Pirelli, Lamborghini has been a prominent name in GT racing for many years: both in the various Blancpain GT3 series that operate internationally, as well as in the Lamborghini Super Trofeo. This dedicated championship – reckoned to be the fastest one-make series in the world – has been going since 2009 (originally with the Gallardo) in partnership with Pirelli. It’s been consistently popular with amateur and professional drivers alike, taking many of them to the top levels of GT racing with the current Huracan GT3. That car shares its fundamental DNA with the roadgoing version seen at Silverstone.
Lamborghini also has its fair share of Formula 1 history, having powered seven different constructors as an engine constructor between 1989 and 1993. Its best result was a podium at the 1990 Japanese Grand Prix, courtesy of Aguri Suzuki in a Lola. But the results don’t always say everything. One of the most renowned car designers in Formula 1 history was Italy’s Mauro Forghieri. Having made his name at Ferrari, the final complete F1 car he designed (chassis and engine) was the distinctive Lambo 291, eventually raced by the Modena team in 1991. It looked radically different from anything else but the engine had a voracious thirst for fuel and the team constantly struggled with funding despite its obvious potential.
The possibilities were so clear though, that McLaren even secretly tested a prototype McLaren-Lamborghini MP4/8B during 1993 at Silverstone and Estoril with Ayrton Senna. The story goes that Senna wanted to race with the Forghieri-designed Lamborghini V12 in 1994; McLaren’s (disastrous) decision to eventually go with Peugeot was one of the factors that pushed Senna towards his tragic season with Williams.
“There was only one thing really wrong with our car,” remembered Forghieri of his final 1991 Lamborghini creation, “and that was it was too far ahead of its time…”
But for one fateful decision, Lamborghini’s history in Formula 1 could have been even greater. Instead, the Italian firm quietly disappeared from F1 at the end of 1993. Until now.
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