- November 08, 1933
- June 16, 2009
- United Kingdom
- Not Active
- Team Lotus
Peter Arundell (1933 – 2009) was a British racing driver who recorded eleven starts in the Formula One World Championship between 1964 and 1966, driving for Team Lotus.
He also participated in eight non-championship F1 races. In total, he managed to score nine F1 podiums, two in the championship and seven more in non-championship races.
Racing debut in an MG TC
Born in November 1933 in Ilford, Essex, Peter became interested in cars when his father started a small garage business just after the World War II. At the age 20, while serving in the Royal Air Force, Peter began building his own Austin Seven special.
After leaving RAF in 1955, Peter started to work for his father's garage. Peter bought himself an MG TC and became a member of the Rumford Enthusiasts' Car Club. At the end of 1956, he modified his car for races and made his racing debut in 1957. He was successful immediately, being among the front-runners all the time. The highlight of his first season was a victory at Mallory Park in August, when he beat Tim Parnell in the Cooper T39-Climax sports car.
In 1958, he sold an MG to buy Lotus Eleven. Arundell was preparing a car by himself, continuing to win races. In 1959, he won five races from sixteen starts, getting an attention of Lotus boss Colin Chapman. In December 1959, on Boxing Day race meeting at Brands Hatch, Arundell contested in the Formula Junior race, driving an Elva-DKW car for Frank Nicholls. He won a race and gets a cover of Motor Sport magazine.
Joining Colin Chapman's Team Lotus in 1960
After that, Colin Chapman wanted to have Arundell in his team. Arundell had no money to buy a car so Chapman lent him a Lotus 18-Cosworth. Arundell was entering races as the team's third driver, alongside Jim Clark and Trevor Taylor, and he had to drive under team orders, what was a little bit frustrating for him.
However, he managed to win two races in the Formula Junior, never ending race below fourth place. In the same year, Arundell also participated in several sports car races in a Gilby SR.
Victory in the Monaco Grand Prix support race in 1961
In 1961, Jim Clark was committed to Formula 1, leaving Arundell and Trevor Taylor to contest in the Formula Junior for Team Lotus. When racing in the same race, Arundell had to follow team orders as Taylor was the number 1 driver.
In that time, Formula Junior was the main European single-seater competitions below Formula 1. Arundell scored four international wins in Lotus 20, including a victory in the support race of the Monaco Grand Prix.
Dominant driver in the 1962 Formula Junior
In 1962, when Trevor Taylor progressed to Formula 1, Arundell became the number 1 driver in the Formula Junior. He was an absolutely dominant driver in the field, winning 18 races in 26 starts with Lotus 22. Of those 18 wins, twelve were in international races, including one more win in the Monaco Grand Prix support race.
In July 1962, Arundell made a debut in the Formula 1 non-championship races. He was driving the #14 Lotus 24-BRM at Reims Grand Prix, sharing a car with Jim Clark. They left out of fuel and didn't finish the race.
1963 - two podiums in F1 non-championship races
In 1963, Arundell continued to race in the Formula Junior, driving a new Lotus 27. He lost a championship by a single point to Denny Hulme. Over the summer, Arundell had an opportunity to drive a Lotus 25-Climax in two Formula 1 non-championship races, scoring podiums in both.
In July, at Solitude Grand Prix at Solitudering near Stuttgart, he finished second, behind Jack Brabham. In August, he was second again in the Mediterranean Grand Prix at the Autodromo di Pergusa. John Surtees won the race.
1964 - two podiums in Formula 1 World Championship
In 1964, Arundell finally became a member of the Team Lotus in the Formula 1 World Championship, driving a Lotus 25-Climax as the second driver next to Jim Clark. In his championship debut at Monaco Grand Prix, Arundell was the sixth fastest qualifier and finished on a podium, taking a finish line third, behind BRM's Graham Hill and Richie Ginther.
In the next race, the Dutch Grand Prix at Zandvoort, Arundell was third again, behind Jim Clark and John Surtees. He missed to score points at Spa and then finished fourth in the French Grand Prix at Rouen-les-Essarts circuit. In that point of the championship, Arundell was sharing the third place with Richie Ginther, behind Jim Clark and Graham Hill.
Four podiums in the non-championship F1 races
Arundell proved that he has the championship potential by scoring four podiums in five non-championship F1 races he participated. He was leading in the Daily Mirror Trophy at Snetterton before retiring with a broken gearbox. Then, he finished second in the News of the World Trophy at Goodwood Circuit, losing to Jim Clark.
Three more third-place finishes followed in the Syracuse Grand Prix, Aintree 200 race and BRDC International Trophy at Silverstone.
Driving Ford Cortina Lotus in the British Saloon Car Championship
As a member of Lotus factory team, Arundell also participated in the 1964 British Saloon Car Championship, driving a newly-developed Ford Cortina Lotus. His teammate Jim Clark was a dominant driver in the championship, scoring eight wins to take the title. Arundell finished fifth in the final standings.
During the season, Arundell also participated in sports car races in a Lotus Elan, scoring some notable results but without wins.
Formula 2 accident interrupted Arundell's career
Besides racing in Formula 1, saloon car championship and sports car races, Arundell also took part in Formula 2 races, driving a Lotus 32-Cosworth in British and French races. Unfortunately, an accident in the Formula 2 race brought him near to death and significantly interrupted his career.
In a race at the Reims-Gueux circuit, he suffered a nasty accident with broken legs and being in a coma. He survived the near-fatal accident but the French medicine cost him more, as he was infected by osteomyelitis. He was recovering for a long time, missing out the whole 1965 racing season.
Return to racing in 1966
Arundell returned to Team Lotus in 1966, scoring a podium in the first race with Lotus 33-Climax. In January 1966, he finished third in the non-championship South African Grand Prix at the Prince George Circuit. In the F1 World Championship, his results were not so good. It was the first year of the 3-liter formula and Lotus used various Coventry Climax and BRM engines.
Arundell didn't start at Spa due to a broken BRM H16 engine, then retired early in the French Grand Prix in the same car. He then switched to BRM V8 engine but his best result was the seventh place in Mexico. Arundell scored one single point in the US Grand Prix at Watkins Glen, finishing sixth in the #2 Lotus 33-Climax.
Third place in the 1966 British Saloon Car Championship
Besides racing in Formula 1 in 1966, Arundell was driving for Lotus in Formula 2 races but also in the British Saloon Car Championship. His most notable F2 result was the second place at wet Nurburgring, behind Jochen Rindt.
In the BSCC, Arundell was driving a Ford Cortina Lotus. He scored two wins in the C class, while his teammate Jim Clark was a race winner four times. However, at the end of the season, Arundell was third in the points, two places ahead of Clark.
Lotus sacked Arundell at the end of 1966
After seven seasons with Lotus, Arundell had been sacked by the team at the end of 1966. He didn't expect such a move and he was deeply disappointed. It was the end of his career, although he had two appearances with Alan Mann Racing in touring car races in 1968.
One race was in the British Saloon Car Championship, the other was Nurburgring's round of the European Touring Car Challenge, where Arundell and Brian Muir were driving Ford Escort TC.