Technical innovation marks Ligier’s Judd V8-engined Formula One contender for this season, the JS31. To bring the driver’s feet behind the front axle line (as new regulations demand) without upsetting the balance, designer Michel Tetu has moved both engine and driver in towards the centre of the chassis, where the fuel tank is to be found on conventional designs.
Now the fuel is split between two tanks, a smaller than usual one behind the driver, and a secondary reservoir behind the engine and incorporated in the tail of the monocoque. The pull-rod rear suspension mounts directly onto the six-speed gearbox, which uses Hewland ratios in Ligier’s own cast magnesium housing. Joining Ligier as Rene Arnoux’s team-mate is Stefan Johansson, who has finished in the top ten in the World Championship points for three consecutive years, but has been dropped in turn by Ferrari and McLaren.
March has also revealed its new 881 chassis, the team’s first pure F1 design since 1977, which houses the Judd engine in a more conventional way. Designer Adrian Newey, has concentrated on producing a small, neat and very low car around the compact V8, with greater downforce and no more drag than last year’s 871 design.