S3379 March 711 No.26 Austrian GP 1971 – Niki Lauda
The March 711 has written Formula-1-history. Not only because of its special design. It was also the car in which Niki Lauda drove his first Formula-1-race in 1971 at the so called Österreichring. March didn’t have much experience in Formula 1. So the previous model, the 701, served as a base. Engineer Robin Heard was convinced that aerodynamics would be the key to success. That’s why he focused on it and gave brilliant aerodynamicist Frank Costin as much as clearance as he could. Costin himself surprised the other competitors with a completely new construction: the real eyecatcher was the front wing which soon became famous as the “tea tray”. The concept seemed (almost) good enough to be succesfull. With the 711 March was the second force in the hands of Ronnie Peterson. Behind the Tyrrell of Jackie Stewart who was outstanding in 1971. Peterson recorded five podium places this year. But no victories. But the combination was good enough for second place in the drivers World-Championship. The 711-2 driven by Lauda was the second chassis March produced this year. Peterson drove it until mid-season. His most heroic achievement: 2nd place at the Grand Prix of Monaco. In Austria Lauda took over the car. In addition to the then 22-year-old Lauda the STP-March team entered two other cars at that race. One for Peterson, who finished eighth one lap down. And one for the Italian Nanni Galli who, unlike Lauda and Peterson, was powered by an Alfa Romeo V8. Lauda had little to do in qualifying. With 6,2 seconds behind polesitter Jo Siffert Lauda occupied the last row. But that had its reason. Lauda was only able to turn the Cosworth engine up to 9000 rpm. What wasn’t a precaution because of the debutant it was more because the engine was old. So it was no surprise that the engine broke shortly after. A replacement was on the way to Austria. But it arrived late. That meant that Lauda couldn’t drive anymore on Friday. Saturday morning, free practice was already on the way for an hour, Lauda was back on the track with his new engine. But it got worse. After practice it turned out that the engine actually belonged to the car of Mike Beuttler. So the mechanics had to change the engine again. This time Lauda got the practice-engine of Beuttler. In the race Lauda had to stop after 22 laps on P17. The steering didn’t fit. The handling was a disaster. Niki had to be patient. His second attempt only came at the season-kick-off in 1972 – again at the wheel of a March: the new 721. The original car of Lauda (and Peterson) was offered 2016 at Bonhams for 550’000 Euro. But there were no bids. So since 1973 the March 711-2 is still in possession of an English collector.