I first watched Niki Lauda as he “learned his trade” in his days with March and BRM, before he won his first World Championship in 1975. His background was Formula Super V and sports cars before joining March, where he paid for his drive. No one should forget that Niki Lauda, as a driver or a businessman, is a very intelligent man. His courage is equalled only by his skill and common sense. In his early career in Formula Two, I particularly remember meeting him at Oulton Park when, during a brief chat, I became very aware of his self-confidence and by the race I was convinced of his ability behind the wheel.
Lauda was so anxious to drive in Formula One that he hired the spare “works” March to make his debut in Austria, in 1971. The car retired with either electrical or handling problems—probably both—but Lauda was not dismayed. He described the 1972 March as a “bloody awful” car and it nearly finished his career. He did not see much for the £35,000 he paid for the drive, and while Robin Herd tried hard to pour oil on troubled waters, even he admitted to wishing they’d taken more notice of Lauda’s views. After a very disappointing and financially difficult season, the stressed team had to let Lauda go.
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