Subscribe

Sign up for free

  • Get quick access to your favorite articles

  • Manage alerts on breaking news and favorite drivers

  • Make your voice heard with article commenting.

Motorsport prime

Discover premium content
Subscribe

Edition

Global
Special feature

Gallery: All of Niki Lauda's F1 cars

On the anniversary of the death of the great Niki Lauda, we look back at the cars that helped define his brilliant career and were observed up close by Giorgio Piola.

Brabham BT46 1978 overview

Lauda stands out not only as a driver, but as an irreplaceable persona who helped shape the sport over the course of four decades.

First he was a racer with March, BRM, Ferrari, Brabham and McLaren, but he later became a consultant and ambassador for the likes of Ferrari, Jaguar and Mercedes.

Piola describes Lauda as the greatest personality he ever met, and characterises his return to the sport, just three races after his life-threatening accident, as nothing short of a miracle.

Lauda, he continues, was a no nonsense, straightforward individual who never looked for excuses and dealt with things in a black and white way.

One example he cited was when his McLaren was disqualified for being underweight at the Belgian GP in 1982.

Rather than try to justify what happened, as most drivers would do, Lauda admitted that he felt stupid for knowingly allowing himself to drive an illegal car.

Here we look at his great cars.

March 721
The 721 was the second March car that Lauda would drive and featured the oddball 'tea-tray' front wing that was elevated above the nosecone. There were three iterations of the 721, none of which lived up to their billing and Lauda left the team at the end of the 1972 season in search of a better seat.
BRM P160
Having switched allegiances for 1973, Lauda drove three iterations of the BRM car that season - C through E. Each development aimed to improve its performance and standing.
BRM P160D
The P160 was powered by the team's own V12 engine and proved to be unreliable. Lauda drove the 'D' in South Africa before achieving his best result of the season in Belgium, taking fifth place.
Ferrari 312B3 evolution
Irrespective of his results at BRM, Lauda established himself as a driver to watch and moved with Clay Regazzoni to Ferrari for 1974. Political turmoil at Ferrari had led to famed engineer Mauro Forgheiri being moved on to other projects, but reinstated shortly after. On his return he set about making changes to its 312B3 that would change its fortunes.
Ferrari 312B3
Having languished down in sixth position during 1973, the Scuderia needed to bounce back and with both Lauda and Regazzoni behind the wheel they did just that. Lauda captured two wins and three second place finishes, whilst Clay Regazzoni had less wins but consistently scored more points, as both helped to propel Ferrari to second place in the championship.
Ferrari 312T
Three races into the 1975 season, Ferrari delivered a hammer blow to the other teams when it introduced the 312T, the T standing for transversely mounted gearbox which now sat ahead of the rear axle line in order to alter the car's behaviour. Lauda would wield the car with devastating effect, as he went on to win his first championship via five wins and three podiums, with Ferrari also able to claim its first title in 11 years.
Ferrari 312T
Continuing how he'd left off, Lauda took back-to-back victories and a second place finish in the first three races of 1976. For the fourth round, the 312T would become the 312T2 as regulatory changes were made to alter the dimensions of the cars. Nonetheless, Ferrari's grip on F1 seemed irrepressible, with Lauda taking three victories and two podiums in the next five rounds.
Ferrari 312T2
Then disaster struck, as Lauda was involved in a collision and fire at the Nurburgring that would change the course of his season and his life. Pulled from the wreckage by his fellow drivers he would suffer life-threatening damage to his lungs and burns that would leave him severely scarred. He miraculously returned to the cockpit just three races later and pushed James Hunt all the way in their battle for the championship.
Ferrari 312T2
Lauda returned to the top step in 1977, winning the championship and once again combining with the 312T2 to deliver three wins and seven podiums.
Brabham BT46
Deciding to leave Ferrari, Lauda joined Brabham for the 1978 season but with the team powered by the Alfa Romeo flat-12 engine its use of ground effect was limited.
Brabham BT46B
The Brabham BT46B or fan car as it was more widely known, proved to be not only controversial but devastating in Lauda's hands during its one and only Grand Prix. He won the Swedish GP, taking the chequered flag 34 seconds ahead of his nearest rival, Riccardo Patrese.
McLaren MP4-1
Having retired from the sport with two races left in 1979 he was cajoled out of retirement by Ron Dennis for the 1982 season to partner John Watson at the revitalised McLaren outfit and was able to capture two victories.
McLaren MP4-2
1983 proved to be a transitional year, with McLaren switching from the DFV V8 to a TAG badged V6 twin turbo engine that would ultimately power the MP4-2. Now partnered with Alain Prost, the duo would have the closest title battle in F1 history in 1984, decided by just half a point in Lauda's favour. The MP4-2 had been the class of the field with only four victories not assigned to a McLaren driver and whilst Prost had seven victories and Lauda only five, the Austrian had been more consistent over the course of the season, picking up a further four seconnd place finishes.
13

Be part of Motorsport community

Join the conversation
Previous article F1 ramps up Hockenheim talks after Silverstone setback
Next article F1 driver market saga isn’t over yet - Grosjean

Top Comments

There are no comments at the moment. Would you like to write one?

Sign up for free

  • Get quick access to your favorite articles

  • Manage alerts on breaking news and favorite drivers

  • Make your voice heard with article commenting.

Motorsport prime

Discover premium content
Subscribe

Edition

Global