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The 1982 South African Grand Prix was the first race of the 1982 Formula One Season, held at the Kyalami circuit in South Africa.[1] The weekend saw a dispute between the drivers and FISA over the rules regarding the Superlicense drivers required to race, which threatened to see the race cancelled.[2] A temporary peace was negotiated, and the race was held on the 23rd of January, with Alain Prost claiming victory.[2]


The winter of 1981/82 saw numerous changes across the teams, as teams focused on developing the infamous turbo charged engines that defined the 1980s.[2] There was a number of significant changes in Formula One for the new season. Most notably was double world champion, Niki Lauda's comeback to Formula One with McLaren[2]. Reigning world champion, Nelson Piquet's team, Brabham had a new works engine deal with BMW who had been working with the team throughout 1981 to supply a new turbo-charged engine for the team. Piquet was joined at Brabham by the highly regarded Riccardo Patrese who had seen little success in the mid-fielder team Arrows in the past four years.

The reigning constructor's champions, Williams had a new driver as well. Williams had spent much of pre-season attempting to persuade its world champion, Alan Jones to rethink his decision to retire at the end of 1981, Jones stubbornly refused. Therefore at the last minute the team had signed Keke Rosberg to partner veteran Carlos Reutemann who had narrowly missed out on the world championship the previous year. Rosberg had only ever driven backmarker machinery, but had nonetheless impressed in his underperforming machinery even though he failed to gain a single point in the entire 1981 campaign.

Political tensions were brewing during the pre-season, the FISA (the governing body of Formula One) had introduced a new addition to the Superlicense, which tied drivers to a single team for three seasons, as well as effectively forcing them to declare their financial status and abstain from any criticism of the FISA. The hawk-eyed Niki Lauda had noticed the handicap that this presented the drivers and Lauda got together with GPDA President, Didier Pironi to find a solution to this matter.

The race was due to be held on a Saturday, the Monday and Tuesday before the race some of the teams participated in a pre-race test session. In this session Arrows's new driver Marc Surer had a big accident at Leeukop corner breaking both his feet in the accident [2]. Arrows announced that Patrick Tambay would serve as his replacement, Tambay mysteriously had not searched for a drive for 1982 after being dropped by Ligier.

On the Wednesday after the tests, major trouble had begun to brew amongst the drivers. Most drivers had signed the FISA's new driver clause in the regulations, however six drivers had notably failed to sign the agreement. It was no surprise to see Lauda and Pironi being amongst these drivers but standing with them was Pironi's Ferrari teammate Gilles Villeneuve, the two Alfa Romeo drivers Bruno Giacomelli and Andrea de Cesaris as well as Renault's René Arnoux.

Despite the other driver's signing the agreement, Lauda and Pironi slowly began to persuade all the driver's to join their cause and stand in protest against FISA in the event. Pironi announced that the driver's would not participate in Thursday practice until the matter was resolved. The GPDA organised a mini-bus for the driver's to be taken into Johannesburg to the Sunnyside Park Hotel where the driver's would stand in protest. The race organisers had parked their own mini-van in front of the exit to the circuit in an attempt to prevent the driver's leaving. Jacques Laffite simply got out of the GPDA bus and hopped into the obstructing mini-van and moved it out the way for the minibus. All of the driver's with the exception of March's Jochen Mass who had not yet arrived at the circuit were within the mini-bus.

29 Formula One drivers were therefore crammed into the Sunnyside Park Hotel, Didier Pironi remained outside to negotiate with FISA President Jean-Marie Balestre and Kyalami track owner Bobby Hartsleif. Clive James noted that Balestre demonstrated his usual "charm" in refusing to make any comment about the stubbornly defiant racing drivers'.[3]

As this negotiating occured, the team's themselves were beginning to lose patience with their drivers. Free practice had started but there was not a single driver at the circuit to drive the cars. Brabham team principal and FOCA boss Bernie Ecclestone had suggested that the team' sue their drivers for the costs incurred of non-performance at the circuit.

He then went one step further in attempting to demonstrate that the driver's were expendable by firing both his drivers, Piquet and Patrese noting that there were over 150 drivers in the world eligible to drive a Formula One car. However James observed that Ecclestone, known as "Mr Fixer of Formula One" should be remembered that "he wore all his hats simultaneously" in order to resolve the dispute.[3] Theodore and ATS were evidently two teams that took the drivers' threat seriously.[3] During practice their cars were adorned in the pits with billboards advertising a potential driving seat in the race.[3]

The race organisers then announced that all the offending drivers had been suspended and the race was postponed for the week. The driver's maintained their defiance inside the hotel. Throughout the night, the driver's remained couped up inside the hotel. Some of the team principals arrived at the hotel attempting to persuade their drivers to return to the circuit. Jackie Oliver (Arrows), Jean Sage (Renault), Mo Nunn (Ensign) and Alex Hawkridge (Toleman) all negotiated furiously with their drivers. Most continued to stand in defiance, however Hawkridge's continued threats to his young driver and debutant Teo Fabi that he would be fired without question if he did not return to the circuit saw the first and only driver of the night break ranks. Fabi escaped the hotel and returned to his team in the night. This move had seen Fabi lose any respect that the other drivers had for him.

Eventually in an attempt to save the grand prix weekend, the race organisers agreed to drop the offending clauses from the drivers and temporarily freeze neogotiations until after the race. Lauda and Pironi had agreed that the driver's had won the day and returned to the circuit for Saturday practice.

The politics did see one casualty from the driver's. Arrows's stand-in for Marc Surer, Patrick Tambay announced his retirement from the sport. Tambay had grown sick of the political situation that Formula One had found itself in in recent years and the recent occurrence in Kyalami confirmed his fears like many drivers such as Emerson Fittipaldi, Mario Andretti and Alan Jones that Formula One had lost its way and he duly retired. Brian Henton therefore took Tambay's place as the replacement driver.

Practice Overview[]

The Thursday practice sessions were not held due to the dispute between the drivers and FISA. The track was empty apart from the occasional mechanic pushing the car "backwards and forwards to see if the wheels still worked."[3]

On Friday, there was only two cars on track that being Jochen Mass's March who never had a chance to participate in the protest and Teo Fabi's Toleman, the only driver to defect against the protest.[2]


Qualifying for the 1982 South African Grand Prix was held on the 24th of January, with the turbocharged cars having a significant advantage (around 120bhp) over their normally aspirated rivals.[2]

Whilst the politics had suddenly ended, the Ensign team unexpectedly withdrew from qualifying. The team had received an injuction from the Formula Two team, Maurer Motorsport that their driver Roberto Guerrero who had driven for them in F2 in 1981 was still contracted to drive for them. The team was forced to pack-up and return to England in order to negotiate the release of Guerrero's contract.

Qualifying confirmed the superiority of the turbo cars over the naturally aspirated Ford-Cosworths. René Arnoux took pole position ahead of the new BMW charged Brabham of Nelson Piquet. Gilles Villeneuve was third for Ferrari with Patrese in the second Brabham fourth and Alain Prost of Renault fifth and Didier Pironi sixth. Keke Rosberg in his debut for Williams was the fastest non-turbo car ahead of teammate Carlos Reutemann, John Watson's McLaren and Michele Alboreto, impressing for Tyrrell in tenth. Niki Lauda could only manage thirteenth on his Formula One comeback.

The drivers alongside Guerrero to not qualify were the two Arrows cars of Brian Henton and Mauro Baldi, Riccardo Paletti's Osella and Teo Fabi's Toleamn

Qualifying Results[]

Pos. No. Driver Constructor
1 16 France René Arnoux Renault
2 1 Brazil Nelson Piquet Brabham-BMW
3 27 Canada Gilles Villeneuve Ferrari
4 2 Italy Riccardo Patrese Brabham-BMW
5 15 France Alain Prost Renault
6 28 France Didier Pironi Ferrari
7 6 Finland Keke Rosberg Williams-Ford Cosworth
8 5 Argentina Carlos Reutemann Williams-Ford Cosworth
9 7 United Kingdom John Watson McLaren-Ford Cosworth
10 3 Italy Michele Alboreto Tyrrell-Ford Cosworth
11 26 France Jacques Laffite Ligier-Matra
12 10 Chile Eliseo Salazar ATS-Ford Cosworth
13 8 Austria Niki Lauda McLaren-Ford Cosworth
14 35 United Kingdom Derek Warwick Toleman-Hart
15 11 Italy Elio de Angelis Lotus-Ford Cosworth
16 22 Italy Andrea de Cesaris Alfa Romeo
17 25 United States Eddie Cheever Ligier-Matra
18 12 United Kingdom Nigel Mansell Lotus-Ford Cosworth
19 23 Italy Bruno Giacomelli Alfa Romeo
20 9 Germany Manfred Winkelhock ATS-Ford Cosworth
21 18 Brazil Raul Boesel March-Ford Cosworth
22 17 Germany Jochen Mass March-Ford Cosworth
23 4 Sweden Slim Borgudd Tyrrell-Ford Cosworth
24 33 Ireland Derek Daly Theodore-Ford Cosworth
25 20 Brazil Chico Serra Fittipaldi-Ford Cosworth
26 31 France Jean-Pierre Jarier Osella-Ford Cosworth


Before the race, there were no tensions between the drivers and FISA on show, with the entire 26 car field prepared to race.[2] The power advantage for the turbos meant that the top six drivers were aided by them from the start, although the work of the winter in making them more reliable was yet to be proved.[2]


The Renaults made the best start, as Arnoux took the lead and Prost leapt from fifth to second over the course of the first lap.[2] Piquet who was unused to the turbo lag dropped down to sixth. They were followed by the battling Ferraris and Brabham's of Gilles Villeneuve, Didier Pironi, Riccardo Patrese and Nelson Piquet. Meanwhile Keke Rosberg  (thie highest placed non-turbocharged car) bottled up the field behind.[2] Early casualties on the opening lap were Jean-Pierre Jarier and Nigel Mansell, who retired through an accident and an electrical issue respectively.[2]

Other early retirements came from Nelson Piquet (suffering from brake fade which sent him off on more than one occasion) on lap 3 and Villeneuve (with his turbo destroying his engine) on lap 6.[2] Between their failures, Rosberg was battling with teammate Carlos Reutemann, before his gear lever began to fall apart, costing him time on every lap afterwards. Niki Lauda had worked his way up from his lowly grid position and was now challenging the two Williams cars of Rosberg and Reutemann.[2] Eddie Cheever joined the crowds in watching the race with a fuel issue just before the dominant Renault's of Arnoux and Prost began to catch the first backmarkers on lap 12.[2]

Arnoux remained in the lead, with Prost stalking him  for the first thirteen laps.[2] As the pair travelled down the longest straight in Grand Prix racing in 1982, they caught the first of the backmarkers, causing Arnoux to lift.[2] Prost, ever the opportunist, pounced, sweeping past his team mate and quickly establishing an ever growing lead.[2] Over the next few laps, John Watson and Niki Lauda were promoted into the top six after Patrese (engine failure) and Pironi (tyre change) fell down the order.[2] The field began to spread as battles ended in stalemate, with Pironi the only driver making any progress on fresh tyres (flying past Lauda before the halfway mark). Rosberg had dropped behind the pack, his gearbox troubles continuing to plague him.[2]

Prost enjoyed a huge lead, until, on lap 41, he came into the pits, his rear left tyre punctured and was disintegrating as he entered the pits.[2] Arnoux took over the lead, although the Renaults (which were the only turbocharged cars that had not run into problems) as a whole had established a significant gap over the field, meaning Prost dropped back into fourth behind Reutemann and Pironi.[2] Prost had exited just behind Pironi, the two Frenchmen on fresher tyres quickly passed Reutemann at the same time. Prost soon overtook Pironi and then set about the task of deposing his team mate. Arnoux had began to suffer tyre vibrations and began to slow meaning Prost had caught Arnoux and went past in the lead with ten laps to go.[2] Pironi also began to drop back with engine trouble, forcing him to come into the pits for an engine inspection dropping him well out of contention.

Arnoux would then lose second to Reutemann with four to go, although he retained his podium spot by taking third.[2] The rest of the points went to Lauda in fourth and Watson (Lauda's McLaren teammate) in sixth, the pair split by Rosberg.[2]


Pos. No. Driver Constructor Laps Time/Retired Grid Points
1 15 France Alain Prost France Renault 77 1:32:08.401 5 9
2 5 Argentina Carlos Reutemann United Kingdom Williams-Ford 77 +14.946s 8 6
3 16 France René Arnoux France Renault 77 +27.900s 1 4
4 8 Austria Niki Lauda United Kingdom McLaren-Ford 77 +32.113s 13 3
5 6 Finland Keke Rosberg United Kingdom Williams-Ford 77 +43.139s 7 2
6 7 United Kingdom John Watson United Kingdom McLaren-Ford 77 +50.993s 9 1
7 3 Italy Michele Alboreto United Kingdom Tyrrell-Ford 76 +1 lap 10
8 11 Italy Elio de Angelis United Kingdom Lotus-Ford 76 +1 lap 15
9 10 Chile Eliseo Salazar Germany ATS-Ford 75 +2 laps 12
10 9 Germany Manfred Winkelhock Germany ATS-Ford 75 +2 laps 20
11 23 Italy Bruno Giacomelli Italy Alfa Romeo 74 +3 laps 19
12 17 Germany Jochen Mass United Kingdom March-Ford 74 +3 laps 22
13 22 Italy Andrea de Cesaris Italy Alfa Romeo 73 +4 laps 16
14 33 Ireland Derek Daly United Kingdom Theodore-Ford 73 +4 laps 24
15 18 Brazil Raul Boesel United Kingdom March-Ford 72 +5 laps 21
16 4 Sweden Slim Borgudd United Kingdom Tyrrell-Ford 72 +5 laps 23
17 20 Brazil Chico Serra Brazil Fittipaldi-Ford 72 +5 laps 25
18 28 France Didier Pironi Italy Ferrari 71 +6 laps 6
Ret 26 France Jacques Laffite France Ligier-Matra 54 Fuel vaporisation 11
Ret 35 United Kingdom Derek Warwick United Kingdom Toleman-Hart 43 Accident 14
Ret 2 Italy Riccardo Patrese United Kingdom Brabham-BMW 18 Turbo bearing 4
Ret 25 United States Eddie Cheever France Ligier-Matra 11 Fuel vaporisation 17
Ret 27 Canada Gilles Villeneuve Italy Ferrari 6 Turbo 3
Ret 1 Brazil Nelson Piquet United Kingdom Brabham-BMW 3 Accident 2
Ret 12 United Kingdom Nigel Mansell United Kingdom Lotus-Ford 0 Electrics 18
Ret 31 France Jean-Pierre Jarier Italy Osella-Ford 0 Accident 26
DNQ 30 Italy Mauro Baldi United Kingdom Arrows-Ford
DNQ 32 Italy Riccardo Paletti Italy Osella-Ford
DNQ 29 United Kingdom Brian Henton United Kingdom Arrows-Ford
DNQ 36 Italy Teo Fabi United Kingdom Toleman-Hart
DNP 14 Colombia Roberto Guerrero United Kingdom Ensign-Ford


  • The 1982 South African Grand Prix was the 27th running of the event.
  • Second win in a row for Renault in South Africa.

Standings After Race[]

1982 Drivers' World Championship
Pos. Driver Pts
1 France Alain Prost 9
2 Argentina Carlos Reutemann 6
3 France René Arnoux 4
4 Austria Niki Lauda 3
5 Finland Keke Rosberg 2

Only the top 5 drivers are displayed.

1982 Constructors' World Championship
Pos. Team Pts
1 France Renault 13
2 United Kingdom Williams-Ford Cosworth 8
3 United Kingdom McLaren-Ford Cosworth 4
4 United Kingdom Tyrrell-Ford Cosworth 0
5 Germany ATS-Ford Cosworth 0

Only the top 5 constructors are displayed.


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V T E 1982 Formula One Season
Teams Brabham • Tyrrell • Williams • McLaren • ATS • Lotus • Ensign • Renault • March • Fittipaldi • Alfa Romeo • Ligier • Ferrari • Arrows • Osella • Theodore • Toleman
Engines Alfa Romeo • BMW • Ferrari • Ford • Hart • Matra • Renault
Drivers Piquet • 2 Patrese • 3 Alboreto • 4 Borgudd • 4 Henton • 5 Reutemann • 5 Andretti • 5 Daly • 6 Rosberg • 7 Watson • 8 Lauda • 9 Winkelhock • 10 Salazar • 11 De Angelis • 12 Mansell • 12 Moreno • 12 Lees • 14 Guerrero • 15 Prost • 16 Arnoux • 17 Mass • 17 Keegan • 18 Boesel • 19 De Villota • 20 Serra • 22 De Cesaris • 23 Giacomelli • 25 Cheever • 26 Laffite • 27 Villeneuve • 27 Tambay • 28 Pironi • 28 Andretti • 29 Henton • 29 Surer • 30 Baldi • 31 Jarier • 32 Paletti • 33 Daly • 33 Lammers • 33 Lees • 33 Byrne • 35 Warwick • 36 Fabi
Cars Ferrari 126C2 • McLaren MP4/1B • Renault RE30B • Williams FW07C • Williams FW07D • Williams FW08 • Brabham BT49C • Brabham BT49D • Brabham BT50 • Lotus 87B • Lotus 91 • Tyrrell 011 • Ligier JS17B • Ligier JS19 • Alfa Romeo 179D • Alfa Romeo 182 • Alfa Romeo 182B • Alfa Romeo 182T • Arrows A4 • Arrows A5 • ATS D5 • Osella FA1C • Osella FA1D • Fittipaldi F8D • Fittipaldi F9 • March 821 • Ensign N180B • Ensign N181 • Toleman TG181B • Toleman TG181C • Toleman TG183 • Theodore TY01 • Theodore TY02
Tyres Avon • Goodyear • Michelin • Pirelli
Races South Africa • Brazil • U.S. West • San Marino • Belgium • Monaco • Detroit • Canada • Netherlands • Britain • France • Germany • Austria • Switzerland • Italy • Caesars Palace
See also 1981 Formula One Season • 1983 Formula One Season • Category
V T E South Africa South Africa South African Grand Prix
Circuits Prince George Circuit (1934–1963), Kyalami Circuit (1965-1993)
Rsa 1066372-k5.jpeg
Championship Races 1962 • 1963 • 1964 • 1965 • 1966 • 1967 • 1968 • 1969 • 1970 • 1971 • 1972 • 1973 • 1974 • 1975 • 1976 • 1977 • 1978 • 1979 • 1980 • 1982 • 1983 • 1984 • 1985 • 1986–1991 • 1992 • 1993
Non-championship races 1934 • 1936 • 1937 • 1938 • 1939 • 1960 • 1960 • 1961 • 1966 • 1981