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  March 811 Cosworth
 

  Article Image gallery (34) Chassis (2) Specifications  
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Country of origin:Great Britain
Produced in:1981
Numbers built:7
Designed by:Robin Herd / Gordon Cuppock / Adrian Reynard
Successor:March 821 Cosworth
Author:Wouter Melissen
Last updated:May 10, 2021
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Click here to download printer friendly versionIn 1981, the March name returned to the Formula 1 World Championship, appearing for the first time since the end of the 1977 season. Although, one of the original March founders, Robin Herd, was involved, it was really an entry in name only. The new-for-1981 March 811 was actually developed by the newly formed March Grand Prix, which was established especially for this purpose by Herd and John Macdonald of RAM Racing.

During the 1980 season, RAM Racing had entered a pair of Williams FW07s in the British national Aurora Formula 1 championship and also in select rounds of the World Championship from the British Grand Prix onwards. These were year-old cars and to get ahead of the curve again in 1981, Macdonald commissioned the construction of the new March 811s. In 'B' specification, the FW07 was a World Championship winning machine, so it was not surprising that the Williams formed more than an inspiration for the new March Grand Prix car.

Designed by Gordon Cuppock, the 811 featured a monocoque constructed of aluminium with a honeycomb core. To achieve a clean airflow through the ground-effect tunnels, the suspension was in-board on all four corners, with rocker-actuated springs and dampers. The back half of the car was formed by the off-the-shelve drivetrain consisting of the Ford Cosworth DFV V8 engine and Hewland FGA five-speed gearbox. The actual construction of the car was entrusted to another March off-shoot; March Engines, which was wholly owned by Herd.

Finished in black with Guinness and Rizla sponsorship, the March 811 debuted at the season-opening, non-championship South African Grand Prix with Derek Daly and Eliseo Salazar behind the wheel. The second and third example produced were entered and they reportedly featured a cheaper honeycomb material, which not surprisingly was not quite as strong. The result was a level of flex in the car that made it virtually impossible to drive. This was later addressed by adding additional aluminium sheets, which in turn increased the weight.

Macdonald was hugely disappointed with Herd and the 811 the team had produced, and during the season, the ties between the two man were gradually severed. Macdonald tasked a young Adrian Reynard to rework the car. Two new cars appeared at the Belgian Grand Prix, which were somewhat better and then a sixth car was constructed incorporating Reynard's suggestions. Dubbed the 'Mk3', this 811 had a shorter wheelbase and was considerably lighter than the early, patched-up 811s. It was this car that Daly raced for most of the season. Regardless of the changes, no points were scored in the races that the 811s managed to qualify for.

Now really a RAM Racing effort, Macdonald continued to operate under the March Grand Prix name during the 1982 season with the Reynard-designed March 821. This was the car the 811 should have been at the start of 1981, so the team was still on the back foot. The surviving 811s had already been sold off and were raced in British Formula 1 and some were even modified into sports cars to compete in the Can-Am and Interserie Championships.

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  Article Image gallery (34) Chassis (2) Specifications