In 1977, Lotus introduced a ground effect car, the Type 78 which had a slim monocoque chassis and wide side pontoons with undersurfaces like inverted aircraft wings. Round 6 Belgium GP in the 1978 season saw the introduction of the further evolved Type 79. The fuel tanks were placed behind the cockpit and the rear suspension featured effective inboard dampers.
Mario Andretti was paired with Ronnie Peterson that year, and the former drove the car to an impressive pole-to-finish debut win. More success followed, with Andretti taking 5 wins to claim the drivers’ championship and Peterson adding another win to help the team claim the constructors’ title.
The Type 79 greatly influenced later F1 machines and its overwhelming speed as well as graceful design and livery earned it the nickname “Black Beauty.”