Santa Claus swapped his trusty sleigh for something with a few more horsepower this week – Niki Lauda's first Formula One racer. The legendary 1971 March paid a visit to patients of Richard House – London's first children's hospice – who have been placed in temporary accommodation at St Joseph's Hospice in Hackney while the main facility undergoes renovation.
COYS auction house, which offered the £500,000 car in its True Greats Christmas sale on 2 December, generously supplied presents to the children.
"It was exciting to have the car at the hospice for the children to enjoy," said senior nurse Elaine Reid. "It's exhilarating that it was driven by an F1 legend."
After visiting the hospice, the car travelled to Richard House's permanent location in Beckton to star in a young adults' Games Evening.
"We are aware of the fantastic work that Richard House is doing for young people with life-limiting conditions," said COYS' Chris Routledge."We also know how much interest there is in F1 from young people, and we thought that it would be a Christmas treat for some of the children to see the car before it was sold, and to have their picture taken with it."
The car was originally built for Ronnie Petersen, who drove it for the works team at Kyalami, Monaco and Zandvoort. It became surplus to requirements upon the arrival of its replacement, so Lauda used it to make his GP debut in Australia that year.