And they’re back! The March team had last been seen with its half-hearted attempt to return to the formula in 1981-82, but had been very successful in Formula 2 and Formula 3000 since, both as a team and as a customer chassis manufacturer. Christian Danner had won the inaugural F3000 title in a March chassis, and Ivan Capelli repeated this success in 1986.

Now, with much more substantial backing from Japanese estate agent chain Leyton House and Ivan Capelli’s Marlboro Italia money, the team were ready for another go. The March 871, decked out in the Japanese company’s aqua colour scheme, was designed by Gordon Coppuck (former co-founder of Spirit) and Tim Holloway and mounted the Ford DFZ engine so like AGS the single car would be contesting the Colin Chapman and Jim Clark trophies.

Capelli 8716. Ivan Capelli it

The 24-year-old Capelli had made his Grand Prix debut at the wheel of the Tyrrell 014 towards the end of 1985, coming an excellent fourth in the Australian Grand Prix, his second ever. He had then piloted AGS’ experimental entry at the end of 1986, taking the opportunity to get a little experience under his belt while busy winning the 1986 Formula 3000 series with the March team. They repaid his faith by bringing him with them into Formula One – not a difficult decision as the Italian was clearly talented as well as well-funded.bvg


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