The 1984 South African Grand Prix, officially known as the XVIII National Panasonic Grand Prix of South Africa, was the second round of the 1984 FIA Formula One World Championship, staged at the Kyalami Circuit on the 7 April 1984. The race would see Niki Lauda claim his first victory since the 1982 British Grand Prix as McLaren-TAG swept to a one-two finish.
Qualifying would see Nelson Piquet power to pole in his Brabham-BMW, while Keke Rosberg claimed second for Williams-Honda. Nigel Mansell was next for Lotus-Renault, while Prost and Lauda found themselves down in fifth and eighth respectively.
It would be a chaotic start to the race, with Prost forced to jump in his spare car, only to be sent to the pits having joined the formation lap illegally. However, as he was wheeled back Mansell would stall on the grid to delay the start, although Prost was still forced to start from the pits.
After that false start the race would finally get underway, although pole sitter Piquet would make a mess of his getaway and hence gifted a charging Mansell the lead. However, Mansell's car would suddenly miss a beat down the back straight, allowing Rosberg to sweep through to the lead while the Brit slipped to the back.
Piquet was the man to watch during the early stages, with BMW engined Brabham able to power through to the lead early on in the second lap. His teammate Teo Fabi would follow him through to second a lap later, before the two Brabhams eased away from the rest of the field.
Rosberg became a bottle neck as the race wore on, his Goodyear tyres, causing a large pack of Michelin shod runners to queue up behind him. Lauda was the first to escape and duly charged beyond the Williams-Honda to take second from Fabi, before catching the back of Piquet as the Brazilian hit his own tyre troubles.
Lauda was left with a commanding lead once Piquet pulled in for fresh tyres, with the Brazilian's race soon coming to an end when his turbo exploded. Prost, meanwhile, would stealthily move into second ahead of his and Lauda's stops, with the two McLarens on their own out front for the rest of the race.
Indeed, Lauda would lap everyone bar Prost en-route to a commanding victory, with the Frenchman himself over a minute behind. Derek Warwick claimed third as teammate Patrick Tambay ran out of fuel, with Riccardo Patrese, Andrea de Cesaris and Ayrton Senna, who would run for most of the race with a damaged nose, completing the scorers list.
Just six months after Formula One last rolled out of the Kyalami Circuit at the end of the 1983 season, the class of 1984 landed in South Africa to compete in the second race of their campaign. The field should have returned to South Africa sooner, with funding concerns ultimately prompting FISA and FOCA to push the South African Grand Prix back by a month. That unexpected show of generosity from Jean-Marie Balestre and Bernie Ecclestone allowed the organisers to find a title sponsor for the race, meaning the South African Grand Prix would go ahead after a fair amount of speculation about its future.
Into the entry list and there were no major changes to the field since the Brazilian Grand Prix, largely due to the fact that everything had to be shipped across the Atlantic. Instead, most interest instead laid in whether McLaren-TAG could replicate their stunning race pace in Rio, for Alain Prost and Niki Lauda had dominated prior to the latter's eventual victory. Indeed, the McLaren squad's only real concern was their straight line speed, with the Porsche developed TAG engine one of the least powerful turbo engines in the field.
However, it was the BMW engined Brabham squad that arrived at Kyalami was the pre-race favourites, although Nelson Piquet was quick to downplay his chances. Popular opinion, as well as speed trap recordings, suggested that the BMW engine was the most powerful in the field, and with Kyalami known for being a power circuit there was little to doubt the pre-race speculation. Piquet's teammate for the weekend would be Teo Fabi, with his brother Corrado waiting for his turn, while the similarly engined ATS of Manfred Winkelhock was also expected to do well.
Williams-Honda, meanwhile, would start the South African weekend as the second strongest team according to the points table, with Keke Rosberg and Jacques Laffite hoping that their FW09s would be better suited to the Kyalami circuit. Lotus-Renault, meanwhile, were reasonably happy after the Brazilian race, with Elio de Angelis and Nigel Mansell getting new turbo chargers, albeit from different suppliers. The factory Renault squad were also experimenting with different turbos, with Patrick Tambay and Derek Warwick optimistic of having better reliability.
Elsewhere Ferrari arrived in a mixed state of mind, with Michele Alboreto and René Arnoux getting a third 126C4 to try at Kyalami. Their compatriots Alfa Romeo were, in contrast, more than happy with the start of the season, although they new that Eddie Cheever's podium was more the result of other's misfortune than it was to do with the 184T's pace. Regardless, he would be joined by Riccardo Patrese once again, while engine customers Osella fielded Piercarlo Ghinzani in their lone car.
Ligier-Renault came to South Africa with hopes of challenging for the top ten, with Andrea de Cesaris and François Hesnault again listed as their drivers. Tyrrell were in a similar position as the main customers of Ford Cosworth, with Martin Brundle optimistic that he could repeat his excellent debut performance. He would be joined by Stefan Bellof once again, while fellow Cosworth customers Arrows fielded Marc Surer and Thierry Boutsen.
Completing the field would be quintet of Hart engined teams, led by the de facto factory squad at Toleman. The British squad would again field Ayrton Senna and Johnny Cecotto, with the former already being courted by other teams. RAM also made the trip, fielding Philippe Alliot and Jonathan Palmer once again, while the lone Spirit of Mauro Baldi would also grace the tarmac in Kyalami.
Into the Championship and, unsurprisingly, it was Prost who led after the opening round after claiming victory in the Brazilian race, ending the weekend three ahead of the rest. Rosberg, meanwhile, had started the season in second ahead of de Angelis, with Cheever, Tambay and Boutsen collecting the remaining points. Brundle should have been in fifth, but his retroactive disqualification meant that Tambay and Boutsen were promoted instead.
The Manufacturers' Championship would see McLaren-TAG lead the chase after the opening battle, holding a three point lead over Williams-Honda. Team Lotus-Renault were next ahead of Alfa Romeo, with Renault and Arrows-Ford Cosworth the only other scorers.
The full entry list for the 1984 South African Grand Prix is shown below:
Qualifying for the South African Grand Prix would follow the standardised format, with four sessions split between Thursday and Friday. The two morning sessions would be used for practice, leaving both afternoons free to set the grid ahead of the Saturday race. In terms of a target time René Arnoux's qualifying record of 1:06.351 from 1982 was expected to fall, with engine power now supplanting the loss of the outlawed ground-effect.
Ultimately, Arnoux's old record would fall long before the end of the first qualifying session of the weekend, with almost a third of the field dipping under his time before the end of the day. Leading the charge throughout would be pre-race favourite Nelson Piquet, whose Brabham-BMW was visibly the fastest thing down the the back straight, clocking over 190mph at the speed trap. Yet, the Brazilian was still having to fine tune his setup, and so it was Keke Rosberg in the Williams-Honda whom ended the session fastest, chucking the #6 car to a 1:05.127.
Piquet would have to settle for second on a 1:05.280, while Patrick Tambay claimed third on the provisional grid having recorded a 1:05.588. Nigel Mansell also secured a sub-1:06.000 time in his Lotus-Renault, as did Teo Fabi in the second of the Brabhams. Derek Warwick, meanwhile, would just miss out on a spot among the "aces", while the two McLaren-TAGs found themselves at the lower end of the top ten.
Elsewhere Elio de Angelis was unhappy with his Lotus, feeling that his new turbocharger was inferior to the unit powering teammate Mansell. Warwick was also suffering, his turbo losing boost pressure throughout the day, while he would also see a succession of flying laps ruined by traffic. Elsewhere, the two RAMs failed to appear at all during the first session, while the Ford Cosworth engined Tyrrells and Arrowss were so far off the pace with their under-powered V8s that there was little Martin Brundle and co. could do.
Friday's running would follow much the same pattern as Friday's, although this time there would be no stopping Piquet from grabbing pole. Indeed, the Brazilian would fine-tune his setup on Friday morning, before dancing his Brabham to a 1:04.871, a lap that would live long in the memory as the Brazilian had almost drifted through Barbecue Bend and the Jukskei Kink with the briefest lift of throttle. Rosberg would try his hardest to respond, but ultimately had to settle for a 1:05.058 as he continued to complain of understeer.
Third on the grid would ultimately go to Mansell, with the Brit dancing his Lotus to a 1:05.125, an improvement of over six tenths overnight. His teammate de Angelis also improved after the Lotus squad changed his turbo to match the one in Mansell's car, although he was still eight tenths shy of the Brit's time come the end of the day. Elsewhere, Tambay would secure fourth ahead of Alain Prost, the latter having to switch to a lesser turboed spare McLaren MP4/2, while Fabi completed the top six with his effort from Thursday.
Elsewhere Niki Lauda would share the fourth row with de Angelis, having been unable to switch out his turbos, while the two Ferraris seemed to have some major handling issues. Indeed, neither Michele Alboreto nor Arnoux seemed comfortable with their 128C4s, requiring huge amounts of rear-wing angle just to keep the back end of their cars in check. That caused them to have tremendous drag down the back-straight, leaving Alboreto down in tenth behind Warwick, who was still lacking luck and boost pressure, while Arnoux was a miserable fifteenth.
Manfred Winkelhock, meanwhile, would show the power of the BMW engine by claiming twelfth on the grid in his unfancied ATS, while Ayrton Senna showed signs of future stardom as he pushed his Toleman-Hart to thirteenth. The Brazilian's teammate Johnny Cecotto had been unable to match his pace, having instead been forced to use the spare, although he would comfortably qualify for the race. Indeed, only one driver would ultimately missout on a starting slot, that man being Thierry Boutsen in his power starved Arrows.
The full qualifying results for the 1984 South African Grand Prix are outlined below:
|7||11||Elio de Angelis||Lotus-Renault||1:06.305||1:05.953||+1.082s|
|14||26||Andrea de Cesaris||Ligier-Renault||1:09.132||1:07.245||+2.374s|
|16||23||Eddie Cheever||Alfa Romeo||1:07.704||1:07.993||+2.833s|
|18||22||Riccardo Patrese||Alfa Romeo||1:08.399||1:08.042||+3.171s|
|20*||24||Piercarlo Ghinzani||Osella-Alfa Romeo||1:10.829||1:09.609||+4.738s|
|24||17||Marc Surer||Arrows-Ford Cosworth||1:12.227||1:11.808||+6.937s|
|25||4||Stefan Bellof||Tyrrell-Ford Cosworth||1:12.322||1:12.022||+7.151s|
|26||3||Martin Brundle||Tyrrell-Ford Cosworth||1:12.233||1:12.453||+7.362s|
|27||18||Thierry Boutsen||Arrows-Ford Cosworth||1:12.326||1:12.274||+7.403s|
- T Indicates a driver used their test/spare car to set their best time in that session.
- Bold indicates a driver's best/qualifying time.
- * Ghinzani was unable to start the race when he crashed during the warm-up.
|Elio de Angelis||8|
|______________||Andrea de Cesaris|
Raceday dawned bright and warm, with no overnight issues to contend with for any of the 26 qualifiers. That was, until Piercarlo Ghinzani went flying off the circuit at the Jukskei kink during the warm-up, with the Italian lucky to escape with only minor burns when his Osella destroyed itself in the catch fencing. His spot on the grid was hence handed to Thierry Boutsen, although everyone was happy that Ghinzani had survived the fiery accident relatively unharmed.
A False Formation
With that the field was prepared to take the start, although there would be some late chaos at McLaren-TAG, for Alain Prost was having issues on the grid. Indeed, the McLaren mechanics had the back of his MP4/2 apart as the start time approached, desperately trying to convince his TAG engine to start. Ultimately, however, the Frenchman would decided to abandon the car, and duly hopped over the pitwall, clambered into the spare, and shot to the end of the pit lane.
FIA rules should have prevented Prost from joining the rest of the field on the formation lap, only for "a well-meaning official" to wave the Frenchman on from the end of the pits. Fortunately the issue was to be corrected by the time the field came up to line up on the grid, with Prost ushered into the pits. However, the start would be delayed moments later as Nigel Mansell stalled on the grid, meaning another formation lap was required twenty minutes later.
At the second time of asking the field would get to take the start, with Mansell allowed to take his grid slot, while Prost sat at the end of the pitlane. However, while they were ready to take the start it appeared that pole sitter Nelson Piquet was not, for the Brazilian was so slow off the line that it looked as if his Brabham-BMW had stalled. That allowed Keke Rosberg to sprint into an early lead ahead of Mansell, with the black-gold Lotus-Renault briefly getting ahead of the Williams-Honda before dropping back through Crowthorne.
Unfortunately for Mansell a brief fuel starvation issue would see him suddenly plummet to the back to the field, while Piquet charged up the order using his superior power. Indeed, before the end of the opening tour the blue-white Brabham was back into second, having overtaken four cars down the back-straight, with Rosberg only just ahead as they crossed the line. They were chased across the line by the second Brabham of Teo Fabi, which had powered up to third on the opening tour, with Niki Lauda leading the rest of the field.
Rosberg's lead would not last beyond the end of the opening lap, with Piquet easing ahead on the run to Crowthorne at the start of lap two. The Brazilian duly disappeared up the road to leave the Williams-Honda in the sights of teammate Fabi, who would follow Piquet past Rosberg at the start of lap three. He too would blast away from Rosberg to leave the Williams in an alarmingly distant third, with Lauda and co. queued up behind him.
It seemed as if Rosberg was struggling with his Goodyear tyres, which were harder than those in use behind. Lauda, ultimately, managed to break clear before he slipped too far behind the Brabhams to challenge, with Rosberg unable to prevent the Austrian escaping up the road. The following laps would subsequently see Lauda inch onto the back of Fabi, while Rosberg clung on to fourth.
Lauda duly caught Fabi at the end of lap ten, and duly slipped ahead on the exit of the final corner. However, Fabi had an incredible power advantage, so much so that he was almost able to crawl back alongside the Austrian as they hurtled towards Crowthorne. Yet, the veteran Lauda knew how to hold a position as much as he knew about taking them, and hence placed his car right in the middle of the track to prevent the young Italian from diving up his inside into Crowthorne.
With Fabi dealt with Lauda was able to focus on catching Piquet, whose early breakaway had been halted by his Michelin tyres, which were beginning to suffer from his excessive early pace. Indeed, Lauda was soon eating away at the Brazilian's lead as the laps ticked away, while Fabi suddenly began to drift back towards Rosberg. Indeed, as the race reached its twentieth lap it seemed inevitable that Piquet would fall behind Lauda, prompting the Brabham pitcrew to begin preparing for a stop.
As Lauda drew towards the leaders, his teammate Prost was making remarkable progress through the field, picking off cars lap after lap to run in eighth before the end of lap 20. In truth his progress was largely being helped by Rosberg's defence of third, the Finn having inherited the position when Fabi abandoned the position for fresh tyres before ultimately retiring with a turbo failure. Indeed, the only drivers to cause Prost a problem would be the two Ferraris of René Arnoux and Michele Alboreto, before Elio de Angelis held him at bay for several laps in the middle of the Rosberg train.
Back with the leaders and Piquet duly abandoned his Michelins at the end of lap 21, handing the lead to Lauda as he rejoined in fifth. However, while Lauda was left with a commanding lead it was clear that new tyres were a huge advantage, for Piquet would take Patrick Tambay, Derek Warwick and Rosberg on successive laps to move back into an undisputed second come the start of lap 25. Indeed, the Brabham-BMW even began to eat into the Austrian's lead as Lauda's pitstop approached, although there was not going to be a fight for the lead.
Ultimately Piquet's bid for victory would end on lap 29, his turbo charger failing spectacularly to leave the Brazilian stranded halfway around the Kyalami Circuit. Prost, meanwhile, would use the momentary distraction of the smoking Brabham to pass de Angelis and Tambay, before pouncing on Warwick to claim third on lap 30. However, Prost would decide to pit at the end of the following lap, dumping him back down to ninth, some way behind Mansell at the back of the Rosberg trail.
However, it was not long before the freshly shod Prost began to carve his way back through the field, even without the aid of the Rosberg roadblock when the Finn pitted on lap 37, before retiring later on with a transmission failure. By lap 43 the Frenchman was in an uncontested second, a move on Jacques Laffite into Crowthorne getting him through, although Lauda was far enough ahead to pit and rejoin in the lead. With that the two McLaren-TAGs were clear, and duly sprinted away from the rest of the field for the rest of the day.
With that attention focused on the fight for third, with Laffite holding onto the position for twenty laps, in spite of constant harassment from Michele Alboreto and Derek Warwick. Indeed, Warwick was the man to watch after Prost made his way through, for the Brit was ferociously fast on fresh rubber, and duly charged from ninth to fourth in the space of ten laps. However, just as he tried to line-up a move on Laffite on lap 56 he would lose pressure in his left-rear, forcing him to stop for a second time.
Laffite's grip on third came to an end a handful of laps later due to wheel failure, handing third temporarily to Alboreto. However, the Italian would almost instantly lose third to Tambay as the Frenchman came charging past on fresh rubber, with Warwick charging through a couple of laps later. The two Renaults would subsequently fight for third until the closing stages, before Tambay's race came to an end as his engine drank the last of its fuel.
With that the race was run, with Lauda sweeping home a lap clear of everyone bar Prost to claim a dominant victory, and his first since the 1982 British Grand Prix. Prost himself was a minute off to complete a stunning one-two for McLaren, while Warwick avoided any more trouble to finish third. Riccardo Patrese was next ahead of Andrea de Cesaris in the Ligier-Renault, while the rookie Ayrton Senna survived well, in spite of running with a broken nose, to claim sixth as mechanical fatigue thinned the field in the closing stages.
The full results for the 1984 South African Grand Prix are outlined below:
|3||16||Derek Warwick||Renault||74||+1 lap||9||4|
|4||22||Riccardo Patrese||Alfa Romeo||73||+2 laps||18||3|
|5||26||Andrea de Cesaris||Ligier-Renault||73||+2 laps||14||2|
|6||19||Ayrton Senna||Toleman-Hart||72||+3 laps||13||1|
|7||11||Elio de Angelis||Lotus-Renault||71||+4 laps||7|
|8||21||Mauro Baldi||Spirit-Hart||71||+4 laps||20|
|9||17||Marc Surer||Arrows-Ford Cosworth||71||+4 laps||23|
|10||25||François Hesnault||Ligier-Renault||71||+4 laps||17|
|11*||27||Michele Alboreto||Ferrari||70||Fuel injection||10|
|12||18||Thierry Boutsen||Arrows-Ford Cosworth||70||+5 laps||26|
|DSQ†||3||Martin Brundle||Tyrrell-Ford Cosworth||71||Disqualified||25|
|Ret||15||Patrick Tambay||Renault||66||Out of fuel||4|
|DSQ†||4||Stefan Bellof||Tyrrell-Ford Cosworth||60||Accident||24|
|Ret||12||Nigel Mansell||Lotus-Renault||51||Fuel injection||3|
|Ret||9||Philippe Alliot||RAM-Hart||24||Water pump||22|
|Ret||23||Eddie Cheever||Alfa Romeo||4||Radiator||16|
|DNS||24||Piercarlo Ghinzani||Osella-Alfa Romeo|
- T Indicates a driver used their test/spare car.
- * Alboreto was still classified despite retiring as he had completed 90% of the race distance.
- † Brundle and Bellof were retroactively disqualified following the "ban" of the Tyrrell 012 after the 1984 Detroit Grand Prix.
- Elio de Angelis entered his 75th Grand Prix.
- 50th entry for Andrea de Cesaris.
- Nelson Piquet recorded the 30th pole position for a Brabham chassis.
- Niki Lauda secured his twentieth victory.
- McLaren secured their 32nd victory as a constructor.
- Maiden podium finish for Derek Warwick.
- Second and final fastest lap recorded by Patrick Tambay.
Alain Prost would lead the World Championship at the end of the second race, having been the only man in the field to register a points finish in both South Africa and Brazil. His race winning teammate Niki Lauda was up to second, with Keke Rosberg completing the early top three. Behind him came Elio de Angelis and Derek Warwick, tied on four points, while Ayrton Senna was on the board for the first time, leaping up fifteen places to eleventh.
In the Manufacturers' Championship it was already looking like a season of McLaren-TAG dominance, for the Anglo-German squad were eighteen points clear of the rest of the field, ending the afternoon on 24 points. Second was split between Williams-Honda, Renault and Alfa Romeo, with the Anglo-Japanese squad ahead on count back, while Lotus-Renault slipped to fifth. Ligier-Renault were next ahead of Arrows-Ford Cosworth, while Toleman-Hart were the only other scorers.
Only point scoring drivers and constructors are shown.
Images and Videos:
- F1-history, 'Keke Rosberg (South Africa 1984)', deviantart.com, (DeviantArt, 13/03/2013), https://www.deviantart.com/f1-history/art/Keke-Rosberg-South-Africa-1984-359271359, (Accessed 31/01/2019)
- GrandPrixMotorRacing, '#774058852', deviantart.com, (DeviantArt, 07/04/2016), https://www.deviantart.com/grandprixmotorracing/art/774058852-601613044, (Accessed 31/01/2019)
- 'South African GP, 1984', grandprix.com, (Inside F1 Inc., 2014), http://www.grandprix.com/gpe/rr390.html, (Accessed 30/01/2019)
- A.H., 'South African Grand Prix', motorsportmagazine.com, (Motor Sport Magazine, 01/05/1984), https://www.motorsportmagazine.com/archive/article/may-1984/40/south-african-grand-prix, (Accessed 31/01/2019)
- '2. South Africa 1984', statsf1.com, (Stats F1, 2014), https://www.statsf1.com/en/1984/afrique-du-sud.aspx, (Accessed 30/01/2019)
- 'South Africa 1984: Entrants', statsf1.com, (Stats F1, 2015), https://www.statsf1.com/en/1984/afrique-du-sud/engages.aspx, (Accessed 30/01/2019)
- 'South Africa 1984: Qualifications', statsf1.com, (Stats F1, 2016), https://www.statsf1.com/en/1984/afrique-du-sud/qualification.aspx, (Accessed 30/01/2019)
- 'South Africa 1984: Result', statsf1.com, (Stats F1, 2016), https://www.statsf1.com/en/1984/afrique-du-sud/classement.aspx, (Accessed 30/01/2019)
- '1984 South African GP', chicanef1.com, (Chicane F1, 2014), http://www.chicanef1.com/racetit.pl?year=1984&gp=South%20African%20GP&r=1, (Accessed 30/01/2019)
|V T E||South African Grand Prix|
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