Niki Lauda, early years

07. Mar 2021 
by Ziv Knoll

Niki Lauda entered his first race, a hill climb, in a Mini Cooper in 1968, taking second in his class. Thereafter, despite his family insistence that he should stay away from racing, he continued to compete in hill climbs and later in Formula Vee.

He then progressed into Formula 3, and travelled alone all around Europe, with his McNamara (picture below) on the back of his trailer, but soon found out that racing in Formula 3 was too wild to his liking, saying ‘it was insane and dangerous’, and took the plunge into Formula 2 in 1971.

Lauda convinced a Viennese banker to grant him a loan and he used these funds to join the March factory team of Max Mosley and Robin Herd alongside Swede Ronnie Peterson (who was getting paid for his driving). A mixed program of F1 and F2 followed in 1972.

Peterson clinched the 1971 European Formula 2 championship with five victories and Lauda not yet at the level of his Swedish team mate, finished 10th in the final standing with one podium finish at Rouen.

The Austrian showed flashes of brilliance in the 1972 European Formula 2 championship, with a second place finish at Mallory Park and a victory in the rain at Thruxton, and finished fifth in the standings.

Niki Lauda got better every year as he progressed into more powerful cars like in Formula One, and real brillance will be seen in 1973 at the wheel of the BRM, like in Monaco or at the Nürburgring (picture below) where he fought right at the top.

Source: DR

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