Niki Lauda’s First Formula 1 Car is Up for Auction
The history of Formula 1 racing is woven with the achievements and tales of legendary drivers, all set behind the wheel of ballistically fast machines. The greats are well known—icons like Michael Schumacher, Ayrton Senna, Juan Manuel Fangio, and Jackie Stewart. But the list certainly wouldn’t be complete without a mention of one Niki Lauda. Born in 1949, Lauda would go on to disobey the urges of his family and pursue a career in racing. With the risk of financial ruin if he didn’t succeed, Lauda proved himself in the lower formulas, netted a spot on the March F1 team, and in 1971 he would make his F1 racing debut in this big winged race car—a 1971 March 711, chassis 711-02 The rare race chassis will cross the auction block at RM Sotheby’s May 14th Monaco sale, and will undoubtedly bring a flurry of attention. RELATED: See More Photos of this 1971 March 711 Formula 1 Car
Named after founders Max Mosley, Alan Rees, Graham Coaker, and Robin Herd, the March Formula 1 outfit set up shop in 1969 and went racing for the 1970 season, earning an impressive third place constructors championship finish in its debut year. Luck would strike again for 1971 as driving ace Ronnie Peterson drove his March 711 to finish runner-up in the driver’s championship. In fact, this was his car. Note the “tea tray” front wing.
Chassis 711-02 was built for Peterson and it debuted at the 1971 South African Grand Prix, leading to a rather marginal 10th place finish. Fast forward two races however and Peterson drove chassis 711-02 to finish second at the Monaco Grand Prix and fourth at the Dutch Grand Prix.
Later in the season he switched to a new chassis (711-06), which relegated 711-02 to backup duty. It is there however where this car earns much of its fame. At the 1971 Austrian Grand Prix, a young Niki Lauda is given his first crack at Formula 1 racing behind the wheel of this 450-horsepower beast.
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Unfortunately for Lauda, the car encountered a steering problem, which caused the Austrian to retire early. Nevertheless, Lauda’s star was ever rising and he would go on to win two championships at Ferrari, battle back from a near fatal accident in 1976, and then earn a third championship at McLaren in 1984. Talk about a legend.
The car's recent history is quite impressive as well. It's said to have spent the last 43 years with one owner and in the late '90s it even claimed a win and a number of strong finishes in European vintage racing events. Expect strong bidding when it crosses the block.
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Photo Credit: Jon Green, RM Sotheby's