The Lotus 81 was a Formula 1 racing car, the Lotus in 1980 and 1981 started in the World Cup.
After the failure of the Lotus 80 Lotus 81 built with the one of the least innovative vehicles of its racing history. The 81 was a conservative ground-effect vehicle with the long proven 3-liter V8 Cosworth Agreggat as a motor. Colin Chapman worked long on the Lotus 88 and 81 was only intended as a temporary solution.
For Mario Andretti came in 1980 the young Italian Elio de Angelis in the team after Carlos Reutemann Lotus had left after only one year. De Angelis also scored the best race result of 81 when he second in the Grand Prix of Brazil was at the beginning of the season. The later world champion Nigel Mansell was the Grand Prix of Austria in 81 his debut in Formula 1 at the end of the season was de Angelis seventh in the World Championship. Andretti reached only a single point and changed the end of the year to Alfa Romeo.
After the banning of the Lotus 88, the team and the 1981 season had largely denied to the 81, before the racing car was replaced by the Lotus 87. After all, Mansell drove the Grand Prix of Belgium with the 81 for the first time in his career on the podium of a World Championship run.