As part of the Honda deal, Lotus agreed to sign Satoru Nakajima as team mate to the mercurial Ayrton Senna. Nakajima, who many felt was only in F1 because of his nationality and because of Honda, brought little to the team other than Honda. Lotus had also lost long time major sponsor John Player Special who were replaced by Camel as title sponsor meaning the black cars with gold sign writing of the previous seasons were replaced by bright yellow with blue writing.
The 99T was the first Lotus chassis to be fitted with electronic active suspension. The system's benefits of a consistent ride height with no pitch or roll in the chassis came at a cost, as the system added significant weight to the car (approx 25kg or 55lb) and also robbed the Honda turbo of approximately 5% of its power. Ducarouge clawed as much performance back by spending many hours in the wind tunnel to compensate although by the end of the season Senna was describing the car as nothing more than a 98T with a Honda engine. The 99T was generally regarded as the more bulky of the contenders in 1987 with the Williams FW11B, McLaren MP4/3 and Ferrari F1/87 all regarded as better aerodynamically than the Lotus.
The 99T proved to be competitive at the hands of Senna, who won twice and scored six other podium finishes during the season. The car was very good around slow and bumpy circuits like Monaco and Detroit (where Senna won both his races that year). This helped him and the team to third in the drivers' and constructors' championship. Senna also provided a poignant footnote that season, as his win at the United States Grand Prix was the final Grand Prix win for Team Lotus before he moved to McLaren for 1988.
The 99T was updated for 1988 to 100T specification; the car technically was virtually unchanged, except for a redesigned nose section, longer wheelbase and tighter rear bodywork. New team leader Nelson Piquet used the car to score consistently but was unable to add any further wins to Lotus' scoresheet however.
Senna's 99T was included in the Japanese and American versions of the 2001 video game Gran Turismo 3 under the alias "F687/S". The F687/S was the second most powerful Formula One car in the game (next to the F686/M) producing 900 PS (888 hp).