David Coulthard once declared 'potential' a word which should be banned from motor racing, for the belief in it – the pursuit of it – has sent many a competitor down an insurmountable blind alley. The BRM P201 certainly had potential and, indeed, had Niki Lauda been behind the wheel – as he was initially contracted to be – perhaps it might have recorded more than one podium finish and arrested the quixotic British team’s slide towards oblivion. 'Perhaps' being a companion word for 'potential'.
BRM was beginning to enter its death throes as 1974 beckoned. Formed nearly three decades earlier by pre-war ace Raymond Mays as a British engineering prestige project, aiming to emulate the German domination of top-level motor racing in the 1930s, it was a peculiar enterprise which too often fell far short of its lofty ambitions.
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