The 1985 South African Grand Prix, officially known as the XIX Southern Sun Hotels Grand Prix of South Africa, was the fifteenth and penultimate round of the 1985 FIA Formula One World Championship, staged at the Kyalami Circuit in South Africa on the 19 October 1985. The race would be one of the more controversial in F1's history, and would be the last South African Grand Prix to be staged before the end of apartheid.
Indeed, the decision to race in South Africa had been made fairly late by Jean-Marie Balestre and FISA, with numerous countries having placed sanctions on South Africa as a result of the aforementioned apartheid. Indeed, France encouraged their two representatives on the F1 grid, Renault and Ligier to boycott the race, while Brazil tried to encourage their drivers Nelson Piquet and Ayrton Senna to sit it out as well. Most of the other teams and drivers cited their contracts with FISA and FOCA, as well as the Concorde Agreement, as their reason for taking part.
Ultimately the field would be further reduced by travel costs, leaving 21 drivers to take part across the weekend. Qualifying would see Nigel Mansell sweep to pole ahead of Piquet, while Keke Rosberg and Senna shared the second row. New World Champion Alain Prost, meanwhile, would start from ninth behind teammate and out-going Champion Niki Lauda.
The field would be further reduced on race morning, with Alan Jones withdrawing after feeling unwell overnight. The start saw the field further thinned as Riccardo Patrese and Eddie Cheever bounced their Alfa Romeos off one-another, with Patrese sent skating into the back of Piercarlo Ghinzani.
At the head of the field, meanwhile, Mansell would ace his getaway to claim an early lead, while Rosberg dropped down to sixth after missing a hear. Marc Surer, meanwhile, would make a strong start to run in fifth, but was soon shuffled down the order during the opening tour.
The race soon developed into one of attrition, with Piquet dropping out of second early on after an engine failure. Rosberg, meanwhile, would take advantage of a ferocious fight between the two Lotus-Renaults to grab second, and duly went chasing off after Mansell as Senna and Elio de Angelis squabbled for third.
Indeed, Rosberg would briefly lead the race after catching Mansell, although a spin on an oil slick left by Ghinzani dropped the Finn back down to fifth. Quick fire retirements moments before had seen Senna and Michele Alboreto drop out of the running, leaving Mansell leading from Prost, Lauda, de Angelis and Rosberg, with the field reduced to just ten cars in the space of seventeen laps.
Rosberg would have to wait until the stops to make any progress on the McLarens, having already passed de Angelis, although he would be gifted third when Lauda's turbo failed just before half-distance. The Finn would, however, manage to catch and pass Prost, before again sprinting off after Mansell out front.
Ultimately, however, there would be no further changes for the podium spots, with Mansell able to cruise home eight seconds clear of teammate Rosberg to claim his second victory in two races. Prost, meanwhile, would come home third a lap down, while a late retirement for de Angelis promoted Stefan Johansson into fourth.
A few days after the race FISA president Balestre would announce that F1 would not return to South Africa again until the apartheid was lifted. The series would ultimately remain true to the Frenchman's word, with South Africa having to wait until 1992 to host a Grand Prix again.
Fourth place at the European Grand Prix had proved more than enough for Alain Prost to claim his maiden World Championship, the Frenchman becoming the first man from La République to claim the crown. Indeed, Michele Alboreto would have to settle for second after his retirement at Brands Hatch, with the Italian holding a healthy fifteen point advantage over third placed Ayrton Senna arriving at Kyalami. The Brazilian himself, meanwhile, could secure his first top-three Championship finish in South Africa, if he could outscore teammate Elio de Angelis.
In the Constructors' Championship it was advantage McLaren-TAG Porsche with two rounds to go, with the Anglo-German effort needing to outscore Ferrari by six points in South Africa to take the crown. Indeed, the Italian team were now under serious threat of losing second, with Lotus-Renault making a late bid for the title amid Senna's late form. The Ethel effort would arrive in Kyalami fifteen points behind the leaders, and just six off the back of the Scuderia in second, although McLaren-TAG Porsche were still favourites regardless.
The full entry list for the 1985 South African Grand Prix is outlined below:
The full qualifying results for the 1985 South African Grand Prix are outlined below:
|6||11||Elio de Angelis||Lotus-Renault||1:04.611||1:04.129||+1.763s|
|8||1||Niki Lauda||McLaren-TAG Porsche||1:05.357||1:04.283||+1.917s|
|9||2||Alain Prost||McLaren-TAG Porsche||1:05.757||1:04.376||+2.010s|
|12||22||Riccardo Patrese||Alfa Romeo||1:06.386||1:04.948||+2.582s|
|14||23||Eddie Cheever||Alfa Romeo||1:07.159||1:05.260||+2.894s|
|20||29||Pierluigi Martini||Minardi-Motori Moderni||1:10.025||1:08.658||+6.292s|
|21||24||Huub Rothengatter||Osella-Alfa Romeo||1:09.904||1:09.873||+7.507s|
- 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.
- * Jones was effectively withdrawn from the race on race morning after feeling unwell.
|______________||Elio de Angelis|
The full results for the 1985 South African Grand Prix are outlined below:
- T Indicates a driver used their test/spare car.
- 100th race entry for Alan Jones.
- Second career victory for Nigel Mansell.
- Williams secured their 21st victory as a constructor.
- TAG Porsche secured their 30th podium finish courtesy of Alain Prost.
- Keke Rosberg recorded the 25th fastest lap for a car using #6 as its race number.
With Alain Prost already declared as Champion, and Michele Alboreto set to finish second, the interest in the Championship heading into the final round would be on the battle for third. Indeed, four drivers could mathematically take the final end-of-season podium spot, although Ayrton Senna was in the best position on 38 points. Five points separated him from teammate Elio de Angelis, while Nigel Mansell and Keke Rosberg were two further back, level on 31.
In the Constructors' Championship, however, it was still all to play for, although with a ten point lead it looked to be McLaren-TAG Porsche's title to lose. Indeed, the Anglo-German squad would need to score five points in Australia to retain their crown, with Ferrari the only team that could deny them. Yet, the Italian team would require a double podium in Oceania just to draw level with their rivals, with a one-two the only realistic chance for them to claim the crown.
Only point scoring drivers and constructors are shown.
Images and Videos:
- ↑ 1.00 1.01 1.02 1.03 1.04 1.05 1.06 1.07 1.08 1.09 1.10 1.11 1.12 1.13 1.14 1.15 1.16 'South African GP, 1985', grandprix.com, (Inside F1 Inc., 2015), http://www.grandprix.com/gpe/rr419.html, (Accessed 26/03/2019)
- ↑ 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 2.7 2.8 '15. South Africa 1985', statsf1.com, (Stats F1, 2014), https://www.statsf1.com/en/1985/afrique-du-sud.aspx, (Accessed 26/03/2019)
- ↑ 'South Africa 1985: Entrants', statsf1.com, (Stats F1, 2015), https://www.statsf1.com/en/1985/afrique-du-sud/engages.aspx, (Accessed 26/03/2019)
- ↑ 'Southern Sun Hotels Grand Prix 1985 - QUALIFYING 1', formula1.com, (Formula One World Championship Ltd., 2019), https://www.formula1.com/en/results.html/1985/races/496/south-africa/qualifying-1.html, (Accessed 26/03/2019)
- ↑ 'Southern Sun Hotels Grand Prix 1985 - QUALIFYING 2', formula1.com, (Formula One World Championship Ltd., 2019), https://www.formula1.com/en/results.html/1985/races/496/south-africa/qualifying-2.html, (Accessed 26/03/2019)
- ↑ 'South Africa 1985: Qualifications', statsf1.com, (Stats F1, 2016), https://www.statsf1.com/en/1985/afrique-du-sud/qualification.aspx, (Accessed 26/03/2019)
- ↑ 7.0 7.1 'South Africa 1985: Result', statsf1.com, (Stats F1, 2016), https://www.statsf1.com/en/1985/afrique-du-sud/classement.aspx, (Accessed 26/03/2019)
- ↑ 8.0 8.1 '1985 South African GP', chicanef1.com, (Chicane F1, 2015), http://www.chicanef1.com/racetit.pl?year=1985&gp=South%20African%20GP&r=1, (Accessed 26/03/2019)
|V T E||South African Grand Prix|
|Circuits||Prince George Circuit (1934–1963), Kyalami Circuit (1965-1993)|
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