Grand Prix Classic




Round 15 - South African Grand Prix
Kyalami, 13 - 15 October, 1983

The South African Grand Prix had been postponed by seven months to accommodate the new regulations, but by way of compensation the Kyalami circuit would see the culmination of the 1983 championship battle. Alain Prost held a two-point advantage over Nelson Piquet, though the Brazilian had the momentum of two successive wins. Kyalami, though, was one of Renault's happiest hunting grounds, having won there in 1980 and 1982.

Rene Arnoux was still in with an outside chance of taking the title, but needed to win with both his rivals finishing 6th or lower. The constructors' title, however, was all but resolved in Ferrari's favour - Renault needing to bridge an 11-point gap to take victory.


Entry Notes

While Spirit's contract with Honda covered the South African Grand Prix regardless of their switch to Williams, John Wickham's team opted to skip the long journey in order to begin the search for an alternative powerplant for 1984. Honda would be present, though, as Williams - back down to two cars for Rosberg and Laffite - had the new FW09 with the turbocharged Japanese V6 fitted.

Not present in South Africa, to the surprise of very few, were Theodore. It had been clear for a while that Teddy Yip didn't have the funds to acquire turbo engines, and saw little point in continuing with uncompetitive Cosworth engines. With no concrete plans to continue into 1984, the team opted to withdraw rather than undergo the expensive process of hauling the uncompetitive car over to South Africa.

[Full Entry]


Qualifying

Surprising news came from Ferrari shortly before the race, as their 1984 driver line-up was announced as Michele Alboreto and Rene Arnoux, with Patrick Tambay dropped (and no mention of Didier Pironi). Tambay had the perfect response in practice, scoring his fourth pole position of the season.

Behind him came the Brabhams, Piquet ahead of Patrese, then Arnoux and Prost. Rosberg had the new Williams - which ran well all through the sessions considering the new combination - in 6th, ahead of Mansell, Winkelhock, de Cesaris and Laffite in the second Williams-Honda.

The reduced entry meant that all 26 entrants were theoretically guaranteed a start, giving Kenny Acheson his first Grand Prix start at the eighth attempt - though he outqualified both the heavy Osella-Alfa Romeo cars for good measure. The Osellas were actually outside 110% of pole position (the 110% rule having been introduced to prevent chancers turning up for races with an undersize entry), and therefore were technically non-qualifiers after limited running due to a lack of spares for the V12 engines. However, Enzo Osella petitioned the other team managers, who all consented to let his cars start.

[Full Grid & Practice Times]


Race

All weekend Piquet and Brabham oozed confidence, while by contrast Prost and Renault seemed somewhat ragged. The start proved Piquet's confidence to be well-placed, as he shot off into the lead, with Patrese moving into second ahead of Tambay. The Ferrari wasn't going at all well, and the fast-starting de Cesaris and Prost were past too before the end of the first lap. Also running well were Rosberg, holding 6th in the new Williams-Honda, and Lauda, moving up nicely in the McLaren-TAG and slicing past Arnoux to take 7th on lap 5.

Prost would spend eight laps trying to find a way past the combative de Cesaris before managing it, only to be passed six laps later by the charging Lauda. The Austrian had been fastest in the warm-up, showing the Porsche-built turbo was making progress, and was now very much the man to watch. Team-mate Watson had been black flagged on lap 21 after overtaking on the parade lap instead of starting from the pitlane after stalling at the start of the formation lap - almost certainly an end to his five years as a McLaren driver.

Laffite's race had ended on the second lap when he ran out of space challenging Cheever and span into the sand, while Winkelhock's season had ended when his BMW failed after only a single tour. Baldi and Ghinzani had disappeared with engine trouble also, while de Angelis was in and out of the pits with a misfire in his Renault and team-mate Mansell had to have his gear linkage fixed. Arnoux was next to go on lap 10 when his engine terminally overheating, but running in 8th had hardly made him a factor anyway.

Up front, Piquet sailed on serenely, and with a 30-second lead stopped early on lap 28. After their fumbles at Brands, the Brabham mechanics were back on form (buying new air guns and jacks just for this race, as the process would be banned for 1984) and the stop was near-perfect - he resumed still ahead of Patrese, who was being challenged by Lauda until the McLaren stopped - and lost around 10 seconds due to a jammed wheel nut. Prost was promoted to 3rd, unable to close on the Brabhams, and on lap 33 he was in the pits - but not for fuel and tyres. A turbo had failed, and now the Frenchman's title hopes relied on Piquet failing to finish.

Everyone else's stops went without incident, and the order shook out with Piquet still holding a comfortable lead over Patrese, with Lauda closing on the second Brabham again and de Cesaris carrying on in 4th. Tambay, troubled by inefficient Goodyears, was in fifth, trying to get on terms with the Alfa Romeo. His final drive for Ferrari would only last until lap 57 anyway, when after valiantly battling an overheating engine he was finally forced to pull over, promoting Warwick, Rosberg and Cheever.

Up front Piquet had dialled down the boost as soon as Prost had retired, as he now only needed fourth place to take the title. On lap 60 he moved over and let Patrese by, and nine laps later did the same for Lauda - after tweaking the boost slightly and holding the McLaren for as long as possible without jeopardising his own finish. Lauda briefly made slight inroads to Patrese's lead, but on lap 73 pulled off - the electronics had shut down the TAG engine, though the car's excellent performance boded well for 1984.

The cruising Piquet was now caught by de Cesaris, who had put on a real spurt after losing Tambay. Reasoning that he had no need to place his title in the hands of an adrenhaline-pumped maniac, Piquet moved over and waved the Alfa through. Further back, Rosberg and Cheever had a scrap over 5th, which eventually went to the Finn, but otherwise the last laps played out quietly, with Renault having long given up any hope that the Brabham-BMW would suddenly explode.

Needless to say, it didn't, and after a jubilant Patrese had taken his first win (and only second points finish of 1983) and de Cesaris had ended Alfa's year on a high note, Piquet crossed the line in 3rd to secure his second world title in a cool, mature fashion. Warwick was a lapped 4th after rather a lonely race (but his fourth consecutive points finish), with Rosberg and Cheever taking 5th and 6th. The rest of the finishers were Cosworth runners - Sullivan leading Surer, Boutsen and Jarier home, with Acheson also finishing the RAM March after a difficult season.

The real joy was all Piquet's, though. Prost had led the standings since the Belgian Grand Prix, but Piquet and Brabham had shown irresistible speed and guile since the introduction of the BT52B at Silverstone, and there was a certain inevitability to the way the last three races had been controlled by the Anglo-German team. It was the relatively new combination of Brabham-BMW, and not long-time turbo pioneers Renault, who would take the first drivers' title for a turbocharged car.


Result

Pos.
Driver Car
Laps
Time/Retirement
Grid
1
Riccardo Patrese Brabham-BMW
77
1h 33m 25.708.865s
3
2
Andrea de Cesaris Alfa Romeo
77
+ 9.319s
9
3
Nelson Piquet Brabham-BMW
77
+ 21.969s
1
4
Derek Warwick Toleman-Hart
76
+ 1 lap
13
5
Keke Rosberg Williams-Honda
76
+ 1 lap
6
6
Eddie Cheever Renault
76
+ 1 lap
14
7
Danny Sullivan Tyrrell-Cosworth
75
+ 2 laps
19
8
Marc Surer Arrows-Cosworth
75
+ 2 laps
22
9
Thierry Boutsen Arrows-Cosworth
74
+ 3 laps
20
10
Jean-Pierre Jarier Ligier-Cosworth
73
+ 4 laps
21
11
Niki Lauda McLaren-TAG
71
+ 6 laps/Electrics
12
12
Kenny Acheson RAM March-Cosworth
71
+ 6 laps
24
NC
Nigel Mansell Lotus-Renault
68
+ 9 laps
7
NC
Raul Boesel Ligier-Cosworth
66
+ 11 laps
23
R
Michele Alboreto Tyrrell-Cosworth
60
Engine
18
R
Patrick Tambay Ferrari
56
Engine
1
R
Bruno Giacomelli Toleman-Hart
56
Turbo
16
R
Alain Prost Renault
37
Turbo
5
R
Corrado Fabi Osella-Alfa Romeo
28
Engine
25
R
Elio de Angelis Lotus-Renault
20
Misfire
11
DQ
John Watson McLaren-TAG
18
Violation of starting procedure
15
R
Rene Arnoux Ferrari
9
Overheating
4
R
Mauro Baldi Alfa Romeo
5
Spin
17
R
Manfred Winkelhock ATS-BMW
1
Engine
8
R
Jacques Laffite Williams-Honda
1
Spin
10
R
Piercarlo Ghinzani Osella-Alfa Romeo
1
Engine
26

Fastest Lap: Nelson Piquet (Brabham-BMW), 1:09.948s

[Team-by-Team report]


Tables

Driver's Championship

Pos.
Driver
Points
1
Nelson Piquet
59
2
Alain Prost
57
3
Rene Arnoux
49
4
Patrick Tambay
40
5
Keke Rosberg
27
6=
John Watson
22
6=
Eddie Cheever
22
8
Andrea de Cesaris
15
9
Riccardo Patrese
13
10
Niki Lauda
12
11
Jacques Laffite
11
12=
Michele Alboreto
10
12=
Nigel Mansell
10
14
Derek Warwick
9
15
Marc Surer
4
16
Mauro Baldi
3
17=
Danny Sullivan
2
17=
Elio de Angelis
2
19=
Bruno Giacomelli
1
19=
Johnny Cecotto
1

Constructor's Championship

Pos.
Constructor
Points
1
Ferrari
89
2
Renault
79
3
Brabham
72
4
Williams
36
5
McLaren
34
6
Alfa Romeo
18
7=
Tyrrell
12
7=
Lotus
12
9
Toleman
10
10
Arrows
4
11
Theodore
1