Man who helped to steer Lotus to Formula One greatness

Team Lotus dominated the world of Formula One motor racing under team manager, Peter Warr, who has died suddenly aged 72.

Formula One supremo Bernie Ecclestone, paid tribute saying. 'When Peter was in F1 he helped me to build it to what it is today,' he said.

While Lotus founder Colin Chapman was the genius engineer, his right-hand man as team manager delivered results on the track around the world. It made Lotus a world leader as Chapman's cars took title after title. At one stage, they had won almost as many championships as Ferrari – having started in FI a decade later.

Peter Warr, who did his National Service in the Guards Division, joined Lotus Engineering in 1958, then based in Hornsey, north London, to sell their sports cars.

In the 1960s, he became a leading Formula Junior driver and raced all over Europe. His racing career ended by taking the chequered flag at the first Japanese Grand Prix at Suzaka in 1963. Although he once said that he would never work for anyone other than Colin Chapman, he left in 1966 to run a slot car racing centre when Lotus was moving to Norfolk.

At Chapman's invitation, he rejoined three years later as competitions manager.

From 1969 to 1976, he guided Lotus to three world championship victories and also three constructors' titles. Lotus picked the best including Mario Andretti, followed by Emerson Fittipaldi in September 1973 and then the Belgian, Jacky Ickx.

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Another world motor racing champion Graham Hill, also won for Lotus, as did Jochen Rindt, who drove the revolutionary Lotus F1 car, launched in April 1970. Ronnie Peterson, the ace Swedish driver, who was killed in the 1978 Italian Grand Prix, had joined in 1973, winning at the French Grand Prix at Paul Ricard that July. He scored four victories before another three in the following year. With team-mate Fittipaldi, Lotus took the constructor's title in 1973. Mr Warr left Lotus in September 1976 to manage Walter Wolf Racing with South African driver Jody Scheckter. Then he returned to Lotus in 1982 as team and general manager but sadly Chapman died that December. He signed Mansell, who had not at that stage won a Grand Prix. Then Team Lotus launched the third generation turbo-charged racing car, the John Player Special 95T, with Mansell and Elio de Angelis, who won numerous titles for Lotus, in the number one car.

And Mr Warr had also signed a young Ayrton Senna in 1983, who went on to drive for Lotus. He won the first Grand Prix in 1985 since Colin Chapman's death at Estoril in Portugal and then added five more for Lotus before leaving in 1988.

Mr Warr became secretary of the British Racing Drivers' Club in 1991 and a year later became the permanent steward for F1. He retired to south-west France and leaves a widow, a daughter, Susan, and son, Andrew.