The 1993 South African Grand Prix, otherwise officially known as the XXXIII Panasonic South African Grand Prix was the opening round of the 1993 FIA Formula One World Championship, staged at Kyalami in Transvaal Province, South Africa, on 14 March 1993. The race would see Alain Prost claim an impressive victory ahead of arch-rival Ayrton Senna, as Sauber made their debut as a constructor.
A turbulent winter had seen a series of high-profile driver moves, with Prost returning to F1 with Williams-Renault. Indeed, the Frenchman signed to replace 1992 World Champion Nigel Mansell, who left F1 to race in Indy Car, while the other big-name in F1, Ayrton Senna, would only agree to a race-by-race deal with McLaren.
Indeed, McLaren had to source a new engine deal after the shock withdrawal of Honda at the end of 1992, and hence secured a deal with Ford Cosworth for the season. The Woking based squad also signed Michael Andretti, the son 1978 World Champion Mario Andretti to the team, as well as young Finnish racer Mika Häkkinen from Lotus.
However, as one engine manufacturer departed another would return, with Mercedes returning to the F1 field in partnership with Sauber. The German group duly placed their driver Karl Wendlinger in the Swiss team alongside JJ Lehto, while also supplying Ilmor, Sauber's engine suppliers, with a base engine for the engine builder to develop.
Into the opening race weekend itself and qualifying would see Prost sweep to pole position, alleviating some concerns that a year away had dulled his skills. He would be joined on the front row by his old nemesis Senna, while Michael Schumacher, remaining with Benetton-Ford Cosworth shared the second row with the #0 Williams-Renault of Damon Hill.
However, while Prost had retained his single lap pace it appeared as if his starting reactions had atrophied, with the Frenchman making a miserable start from pole. Senna was hence able to sprint into the lead off the line, with Hill and Schumacher following through, only for Hill to spin at the first corner.
Prost would spend the first half of race getting back on terms with Senna, first dealing with Schumacher with a lunge on lap thirteen. The Frenchman then quickly caught onto the tail of the #8 McLaren, and duly swept onto the lead on lap 25 to leave Senna to fend off the attentions of Schumacher's Benetton.
The Senna/Schumacher fight would last until shortly after half-distance, with Schumacher crashing into the barriers having mistimed a lunge at the Brazilian. Riccardo Patrese hence moved up into third until he spun, and hence promoted Mark Blundell into the top three, while Hill crashed out of the race when he misjudged a move on Alessandro Zanardi.
The order would remain unchanged through to the end of the race, in-spite of a storm sweeping across the circuit in the closing stages. Prost hence claimed the win ahead of Senna and Blundell, while Christian Fittipaldi, Lehto and Gerhard Berger claimed the remaining points.
Ron Dennis was optimistic the new McLaren would provide results, citing how much easier that it was to install and operate the less powerful Ford V8 engine in comparison to the team's Honda V12's that they were using during 1992. Commenting on this, Yamaha Sporting Director, Herbie Blash noted "Well a V8 package is very simple to package, you need less oil, less water to cool it, it uses less fuel in the race and its actually surprised a lot of people, a lot of experienced people as to just how competitive that package can be".
John Watson on Damon Hill "generally speaking, he has been more impressive than Alain Prost in winter testing".
"Relaxed, chatting to everybody and having a good time", Allard Kalff on Senna.
The full entry list for the 1993 South African Grand Prix is outlined below:
Senna had encouragingly set the initial pace during the morning session, however Prost was looming only 0.4 seconds behind his best time. They were followed by Schumacher, Hill, Andretti, Herbert, Comas, Brundle, Alliot and Wendlinger. At the end of session, John Watson would ask Benetton's Ross Brawn "how much does Michael have left to play with?". Brawn simply responded "A lot".
Ferrari were clearly struggling, Alesi was the fastest driver in sixteenth position. Following the news that electronic aids would be banned for 1994, Ferrari had abandoned the development of the electronic aids for their car. This decision had markedly hampered their performance for the coming season.
After the conclusion of the session, John Watson would note "People ae saying are we missing Nigel Mansell? Well with the excitement we saw from that 45 minute practice session this morning, he isn't missed. In fact I think the only people who will miss Mansell is ironically the Williams team because Nigel made that Williams-Renault sing like nobody. Alain Prost has not come to terms with the Williams-Renault like Nigel Mansell did last year. I doubt infact that Alain Prost will manage to manhandle the way Mansell did in '92".
Herbert was setting the initial pace in the Lotus ahead of Wendlinger, Alesi, Alliot, Fittipaldi, Zanardi and Warwick. Wendlinger had become the first victim of the new qualifying regulations, his Sauber had stopped out on the circuit to which he would be not allowed to enter the spare car for the remainder of the session. Despite the Sauber's initial troubles John Watson would applaud the team, noting "it is a very smart and very professional team. It is what we expect from Peter Sauber, we saw his efforts in sportscar racing, this team is going to be a serious threat throughout 1993. The team will have to find its level of course, it will have to find reliability and consistency. And Formula One is a very different art to sportscar racing".
Schumacher would set the initial pace with a 1:18.498. Andretti was running in second whilst Prost was having a somewhat anonymous return, his best initial time would see him only third fastest. However Prost continued to build momentum and he had soon moved past Andretti's best time. He then spent a lot of time sitting behind the rear of Patrese's Benetton. John Watson would comment "We are not seeing commitment from Alain Prost. We saw the same a little earlier when he came up behind Gerhard Berger. If that had been Mansell, Mansell would have been through him like a dose of salt. Alain Prost does not seem comfortable with traffic. Alain is looking for the clear lap, the ideal lap. He is not terribly comfortable with the traffic and Kyalami is a very, very busy circuit. There are not many parts where you can get a clear overtake, you have to make room for yourself".
Patrese meanwhile had been struggle to find a balance in his new team, he could be seen running wide and touching the gravel in the approach to Total. Prost could be seen swerving sharply to avoid the dust kicked up by Patrese's Benetton. Being described by John Watson "as still looking for that clear lap". However it was not long before Prost had found his confidence and put in a 1:17.452 to take the clear provisional pole time.
In response to Prost's quickest time, Senna had entered the circuit to challenge his great rival. Despite having to back out of two of his laps due to traffic, on his third attempt, Senna immediately took the provisonal pole time from Prost with a 1:17.152. The second Williams of Hill was also on track, however into the approach of the final corner at 13, Hill lost the back end and spun the car. Luckily for him, he was able to recover and on his next lap, he went third fastest behind only Senna and Prost. Alesi was giving some hope for Ferrari after a dismal winter period, he had put his car into the fifth fastest time. At the mid-point of the session, Senna led Prost, Hill, Schumacher, Alesi, Lehto, Andretti and Patrese.
Alboreto was having some difficulty with the new Lola, he was one of many to have a spin in the session. At the exit of Topsport Esses, Comas lost control of his Larrousse and speared into the barriers. He attempted to get going, however his car was beached and he, like Wendlinger, was out of the session. Also struggling was Capelli in the Jordan, he got the car out of shape and spun around at the Budget corner. He, unlike Comas was able to return to the track.
Prost had meanwhile had made his response to Senna's provisional pole time, setting a 1:16.645 and as mentioned by Mark Cole, "showing just how superior the Williams-Renault is with its active suspension." As De Cesaris spun his Tyrrell deep into the gravel trap, Senna had returned to the track in an attempt to respond to Prost's provisional pole time. However despite a number of runs, Senna was struggling to be able to match the Williams car for the pole time.
Berger had been having a torrid session, after being unable to set a competitive time, his Ferrari had broken down out on track and he would be forced to return to the pits on foot. Like teammate Capelli, new driver, Barrichello, would have a spin. In the final moments of the session, Barrichello would spin his car at the Continental corner.
At the conclusion of the session, Prost led Senna, Schumacher, Hill, Alesi, Andretti, Lehto, Brundle, Patrese, Alliot, Blundell, Fittipaldi, Herbert, Berger, Barrichello, Zanardi, Wendlinger, Katayama, De Cesaris, Warwick, Capelli, Barbazza, Comas, Suzuki, Alboreto and Badoer.
Senna had reclaimed the provisonal pole time, demonstrating that the Williams-Renault could be challenge. John Watson commenting "we want to see a fight for this 1993 championship, we don't want to see a whitewash like what we saw last year". Prost had returned to track, however his best time was still only a tenth slower than his main rival. Senna looked to continue improving his time, however he ran wide at 13, the final corner of the circuit and ruined the lap.
Senna was not the only one having difficulties on track. Alboreto was struggling to get to grips with his new Lola car. He spun it at turn 7, and as he attempted to recover, he embarrassingly immediately spun it again. Whilst this was occuring, a return to track from Prost had saw him calmly retake the provisional pole time with a 1:16.604.
A third of the way through the session, Prost led Senna, Schumacher, Hill, Lehto, Alesi, Andretti, Patrese, Brundle and Blundell. John Watson commenting "we are seeing a really exciting and competitive Saturday afternoon and this is what it is really going to be like in the race. Alain Prost has got the more competitive car, but I tell you, Ayrton Senna is driving the wheels off his McLaren".
Having lost the pole time, Senna returned to the track where he began to attack the track in a very aggressive manner. Allard Kalff commenting "the car is sliding around a lot. We've asked McLaren whether they have switched off their traction control, and we didn't really get a yes or no comment" to which John Watson replied "I suspect Ayrton Senna is using a very small amount of it". Thereafter Senna immediately smashed Prost's pole time with a 1:15.784. Senna now only three tenths off Mansell's 1992 pole time. An excited John Watson exclaimed "I wish the director would go straight into the Williams pit, I want to see the look on Alain Prost's face, I want to see the look on Frank Williams's face. This is what grand prix racing is all about".
Prost, however remained calm and collected, he returned to the track and without hesitation went even faster, setting a new provisional pole time of 1:15.696. Senna look nonplussed in the pits, viewing the proceedings from a monitor whilst sitting in the cockpit of his car. "Senna looking on with half closed eyes. I don't think even he thought Prost was going to better his time, but Prost did" was the comment made by Mark Cole. Pit reporters had gathered outside the McLaren garage awaiting Senna to return to the track to respond to Prost's time. However upon Senna's return to track, his car immediately ground to a halt with a mechanical problem. This immediately meant that Senna would have to concede the fight for pole to Prost.
The order now read, Prost ahead of Senna, Schumacher, Hill, Lehto, Alesi, Patrese, Blundell, Andretti, Wendlinger, Brundle. The debutant Sauber team were looking competitive on their debut, both their drivers, Lehto and Wendlinger were sitting within the top ten.
Lehto who was impressing in fifth would however end his day by spinning into the gravel at turn 13. In comparison, Lola's return to racing was proving disastrous. Badoer, who was slowest of the runners had his problems compounded when his front wing cover had worked loose, causing him to spin dramatically. Andretti was also having problems, he was struggling to adapt to the McLaren, he would embarrassingly suffer a low speed spin at the Nashua corner where he would promptly stall the car.
In the final moments of the session, Hill spun his Williams off at the Continental corner after misplacing an attempt to overtake Suzuki's Larrousse. Both Warwick in the Footwork and Schumacher in the Benetton would stop their cars out on track. Schumacher breaking down next to Senna's stricken car. There was interesting shots of the two rivals, Senna and Schumacher discussing matters and walking back to the pits together.
"I think what Michael really couldn't come to terms is that while grand prix cars are much lighter, much more downforce and the braking is unbelievably better than in IndyCar, but what he didn't know how to cope with was Ayrton Senna. He was three seconds slower than Senna after the Saturday session."
"Riccardo unfortunately when he moved from Williams to Benetton, in my opinion there was no way we were going to see Riccardo Patrese running at the front like in '91 and '92. Its a great shame, Riccardo is a great competitor, this is his 241st grand prix. But in reality his performance curve has peaked out and is beginning his long slope into decline". John Watson.
The Lotus drivers were complaining of a lack of grip.
After Badoer's spin into the gravel, he received a push start from the marshalls, a move that violated the regulations. Badoer therefore had his times from the weekend cancelled, a punishment had little effect on the results as he was already the slowest of the cars. The new Lola car was notoriously slow and unreliable, Badoer being quoted as saying "this is not a race, it is a test".
The full qualifying results for the 1993 South African Grand Prix are outlined below:
|2||8||Ayrton Senna||McLaren-Ford Cosworth||1:17.152||1:15.784||+0.088s|
|3||5||Michael Schumacher||Benetton-Ford Cosworth||1:17.507||1:17.261||+1.565s|
|7||6||Riccardo Patrese||Benetton-Ford Cosworth||1:19.341||1:18.676||+2.980s|
|9||7||Mario Andretti||McLaren-Ford Cosworth||1:18.903||1:18.786||+3.090s|
|13||23||Christian Fittipaldi||Minardi-Ford Cosworth||1:19.825||1:19.285||+3.589s|
|16||11||Alex Zanardi||Lotus-Ford Cosworth||1:20.150||1:19.396||+3.700s|
|17||12||Johnny Herbert||Lotus-Ford Cosworth||1:20.009||1:19.498||+3.802s|
|23||4||Andrea de Cesaris||Tyrrell-Yamaha||1:20.721||1:20.660||+4.964s|
|24||24||Fabrizio Barbazza||Minardi-Ford Cosworth||1:20.994||1:21.195||+5.298s|
- 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.
- * Gounon and Lammers' entries were withdrawn as March-Ilmor lacked the funds to compete.
|Andrea de Cesaris||24|
Three cars would notably stall their cars whilst leaving the pit-lane during the session. There was a notable on track altercation by the former IndyCar drivers when Barbazza's Minardi refused to give way to the McLaren of Andretti. Andretti could be seen angrily waving his fist at Barbazza when he was finally able to overtake him.
The two Ferrari drivers of Berger and Alesi were setting the initial pace, however given their current lack of performance, this pace didn't look to be reflective of the race. John Watson commenting "They are probably running with half or at least two thirds fuel allowance onboard". However ten minutes into the session, Senna took the fastest time with both Schumacher's Benetton and Lehto's Sauber also slotting in ahead of the Ferrari's. Alesi could be seen fighting his ill handling Ferrari, however he would improve his time to move back into second position. The order read Senna ahead of Alesi, Schumacher, Hill, Lehto, Berger, Warwick, Comas, Alliot and Barrichello.
Senna would further improve his best time, whilst Hill's Williams had climbed into second position. Hill would then further improve his time to take the fastest time from Senna. The Williams team leader, Prost, had meanwhile entered the circuit and his initial time had put him sixth fastest.
Wendlinger, whom had already had troubles after stalling in the pit-lane, then ran wide and took his Sauber on a trip through the gravel traps. Capelli was having some extreme difficulties in adjusting to his new Jordan. Whilst his debutant teammate, Barrichello, was sitting eighth fastest, Capelli would add yet another spin to his tally in the warm-up.
Barbazza was further providing trouble, this time Berger's Ferrari was having trouble passing him. The Ferrari driver outbraked himself into Total to which the Minardi driver took an opportunity to repass Berger. At the front, Schumacher had improved his time to second, whilst Senna was back in the fastest time. The two Williams cars of Hill and Prost were thereafter not much further behind.
Katayama would have a big spin at the Nashua corner to which John Watson would comment "the Nashua corner appears to really catch out a lot of people. Its the final of those three left hand corners, just after that very quick Total curve. Its a third gear corner and for some reason the track there appears slippery. It gets worse because as people spin, they go off the track and drag gravel and earth back onto it".
In the last eight minutes, Prost would further better his time to take the fastest time of the session. Senna, meanwhile had stopped attempting to set fastest times and instead could be stopping his car at various sections of the circuit to practice his race starts ahead of the race. The final order read Prost ahead of Senna, Schumacher, Hill, Andretti, Alesi, Comas, Lehto, Wendlinger and Patrese.
Commenting on the race, John Watson would note "the question will be whether you can get away with one pit-stop or whether it would be advantageous to do two. On the plus side you will have fresher tyres and will be able to go quicker, the downside is you have to overtake cars and here overtaking is difficult. And you have to be very decisive about that. Now people like Alesi, Senna and Schumacher are ruthless when it comes to overtaking but Alain Prost and maybe, Damon Hill are less decisive and therefore may wait. And that waiting may cost them time and therefore ultimately places."
All the practice starts performed by Senna during practice appeared to be worth it, the McLaren driver got an excellent getaway to take the lead of the race. Prost had a comparitavely slow getaway, allowing teammate Hill to rush through into second position. However at the exit of the Total curve, Hill lost control and spun his Willams around.
However this was nothing compared to the troubles of Andretti, Comas and De Cesaris to which all of whom had stalled on the grid. In regards to Andretti's problems, Jonathan Palmer would report "apparently the problem was that Andretti lost his fly-by-wire throttle, he lost hydraulic pressure, the engine revs got low and that lost him the throttle, he has now got it and is underway". Whilst both Andretti and Comas would continue, De Cesaris retired on the grid with transmission failure. Only a lap later, teammate Katayama would retire from the race with an identical problem.
Senna immediately began opening up a lead in the race to which James Hunt would note "Senna taking full advantage of having Prost behind Schumacher's Benetton and Prost seems to be losing ground. "I would think Senna is already paying attention to looking after his tyres, nobody is quite sure whether they are going to have to stop or not for tyres. There is not enough knowledge of these tyres in hot conditions. Senna was certainly hoping to get through the race and with Prost having a bad start back in third place, give Senna the opportunity to take it a bit easy."" Senna therefore led ahead of Schumacher, Prost, Lehto, Wendlinger, Alesi, Blundell, Brundle and Patrese, Alliot and Hill.
Capelli's disastrous debut with Jordan came to an end when he lost control of his car and speared into the barriers at turn 12. Murray Walker noting "well he had terrible luck with Ferrari and it looks as though his luck is not continuing now that he has moved to the Jordan team".
Senna may have held the lead advantage, however Prost had began to recover from his poor start. He had dropped a bit behind Schumacher at the start, Prost whom was described as the "smoothest driver on the track, always has been" by Murray Walker had begun to pick up the pace after allowing Senna and Schumacher to chase ahead at the start. James Hunt commenting that "I think Prost, like Senna, has been nursing his tyres a little bit there. There is no doubt he can go a lot faster than this, he's just put up the fastest lap of the race, a 1:21.1, and I think he has just brought the tyres in gently to make them last without a stop. Now he'll slowly start to turn up the heat".
After their earlier tussle in warm-up, the two former IndyCar drivers would have another altercation in the race. Andretti who was attempting to make up lost ground after his start-line stall would slam into the rear of Barbazza's Minardi at the Continental corner. Whilst Barbazza was knocked into a spin, he would continue unhindered. However Andretti had lost his front left wheel, he would attempt to limp back the pits, however he would be forced to park his car at the pit entrance.
Sauber were having an excellent race in their debut grand prix. Both Lehto and Wendlinger were running fourth and fifth until a gearbox problem would force Lehto into the pits. Lehto would eventually rejoin the circuit, albeit two laps down and now well out of points contention. After a dreadful qualifying, Berger had climbed his way through the field to ninth position. Behind him, a five car train of Alliot, Hill, Zanardi, Barrichello and Herbert would follow in his wake.
Similarly at the front of the field, the leading three cars of Senna, Schumacher and Prost were all inches from eachother. James Hunt commenting "Senna will not be rattled by this situation, he knows full well that without a mistake by him, there is no real chance for Schumacher to get past". Prost would attempt an attack at Schumacher at the kink before the Total corner, however Schumacher coolly fended off the Williams. Murray Walker noting "Prost challenges Schumacher for second position and of course, Schumacher will have nothing of it. And all this is helping Ayrton Senna, because while Schumacher and Prost are fighting eachother and occupying the whole of the course, Ayrton Senna with a clear track in front of him is able to take the best possible racing line, without worrying about Schumacher who is just under a second in terms of time behind him".
After failing to get past Schumacher, Prost dropped back a bit behind the leading duo. Schumacher would thereafter attempt an attack on Senna, however the McLaren driver was able to fend off the attack. This, however had allowed Prost to close once again, and on his second attack into the Total corner, Prost made his way past Schumacher. James Hunt commenting "That was Renault power that did that for Alain Prost. He came very cleanly out of the hairpin and he just powered his way past. Now Senna would have seen that in his mirrors, he I'm sure would be aware that Prost outdragged Schumacher. And of course, Schumacher has the best Ford engine, the best valved, the official works engine. McLaren has only a customer engine which is reputed to be some 20 horsepower down. That will worry Senna, he will not want Prost on his tail through the hairpin".
Wendlinger's Sauber would be deemed to have made a jump start and therefore was called into the pits for a ten second stop-and-go penalty. He would therefore drop out of the points, putting Alesi's Ferrari into fourth with the two Ligier cars of Brundle and Blundell in fifth and sixth.
James Hunt commenting "Now its interesting, the leaders are lapping some two seconds a lap slower than they were about half a dozen laps ago. Now, what I am trying to work out and having some difficulty is whether that's because Senna is taking it easy, driving defensively and therefore not interested in a lap time or in fact whether the tyres have deteriorated".
A few laps after passing Schumacher, Prost would once again attempt to out drag his opponent into Total. Senna, however would calmly position his car at the kink, preventing Prost an opportunity to overtake. Prost would attempt the same maneuver the following lap, however once again Senna would prevent his attack. Although Prost was the fastest car on the circuit, he was having immense difficulty in finding a way past Senna. James Hunt commenting "I'm beginnign to get the impression that this two seconds a lap off their full speed is because Senna is positioning himself tactically on the track, not interested in a fast lap time. And of course this is allowing Michael Schumacher to stay with the group, and Prost only has to position himself wrongly on the track and Schumacher is going to gobble up the hole if he can."
Whilst Prost's Williams attacked for the lead, the second Williams car of Hill was having a lot more trouble. After running down in ninth position, Hill's day would come to an end when the over-ambitious Zanardi would take him out after a failed overtake into Westbank. The two cars collided, and the Williams and Lotus found themselves in the gravel trap to which both drivers would retire from the race.
On the twentieth lap, the leaders would encounter the first backmarkers. The trio of Senna, Prost and Schumacher would have little trouble lapping the straggling Lola of Alboreto, whom was well distanced at the back of the field. The new Lola chassis was proving disastrous, and with Alboreto in last, his young debutant teammate, Badoer, was in second last and would subsequently retire with gearbox troubles.
On the twenty first lap, Barbazza's Minardi was involved in yet another collision, this time, a failed overtake on Suzuki's Footwork saw the two cars collide at Continental. Barbazza was sent into the gravel trap and immediately retired whilst Suzuki limped back to the pits to retire his car.
At the same time at the front of the field, Prost attempted his third overtake on Senna at the Total corner, this time he finally managed it and took the race lead from Senna's McLaren. It appeared Senna had worn down his tyres, only a few corners later, Schumacher had made his way past the McLaren.
After losing the first two places in one lap, Senna called to enter the pits for new tyres. Reacting to the McLaren pit crew coming out, Benetton also called in Schumacher for a tyre stop. With both Schumacher and Senna stopping for tyres, Prost would continue to lap the circuit at the front of the field. The McLaren pit crew appeared much more efficient in their pit-stop than the Benetton crew. After a quicker stop than Schumacher, Senna rejoined the track ahead of the Benetton driver despite being behind him on the in-lap.
The two cars of Senna and Schumacher rejoined the track directly ahead of Lehto, the Sauber driver remained two laps down on the leaders after his earlier gearbox troubles. Reacting to his rivals pit-stops, Prost elected to pit one lap after Senna and Schumacher. Murray Walker commenting "This is what could change the course of the race if the Williams team make a mess of Alain Prost's pit-stop". Although Prost was somewhat slow in leaving his pit-box, the Williams driver remained well clear of Senna and Schumacher, who were stuck once again trying to lap Alboreto's Lola. Schumacher was all over the heels of Senna, he had set a new fastest lap of the race on his opening lap with new tyres, however he was finding no way past the McLaren driver as Prost began to sprint away into the lead of the race.
Some twenty seconds behind the lead battle, Alesi's Ferrari had been fending off the two Ligier cars of Blundell and Brundle for fourth position. Brundle, however would have to pit due to a gearbox problem and would lose the final points position to Patrese's Benetton.
As the trio approached to lap Warwick's Footwork, Blundell headed for the pits for new tyres, leaving Patrese to fight Alesi's Ferrari on track. Blundell was sixth and not far behind him was Wendlinger and Barrichello. Commenting on Barrichello, Murray Walker would note "Now thats a turn up for the book, because Rubens Barrichello is the youngest driver in the race, he is Brazilian and he is driving the new brand new Jordan with its brand new V10 Hart engine. He's the ex-British F3 champion and if anyone needs a break in grand prix racing its the South African backed Jordan team". Behind Barrichello was Fittipaldi and Herbert. Alliot had been lingering at the back of the top ten would then spin his Larrousse into the gravel trap and retirement.
An unhindered Prost would yet again set a new fastest lap with a 1:19.916. Murray Walker commenting "what I find fascinating about all this, is that Alain Prost is well known for doing no more than he has to do. He's come back into grand prix racing after a year, he won't want to show the Williams-Renault hand to the McLaren-Ford too much". Senna seemed helpless to respond to the Williams pace and continued to have Schumacher's Benetton hounding his tail.
Alesi's defense of fourth position would come to an end when problems on his Ferrari's suspension system would force him into retirement. The lone remaining Ferrari of Berger was struggling in the midfield and in the process of being lapped by Prost's Williams. James Hunt commenting "the two Ferrari's have been running different active suspensions this weekend. Berger's got the newer and supposedly better system on, but it hasn't worked properly all weekend. It's been leaking and they haven't been able to get the hydraulic pressure that they need for it to work properly."
Barrichello's solid debut came to an end on the thirty first lap when he retired with gearbox trouble. Wendlinger, who was running a position ahead of Barrichello, retired only a couple of laps later with engine trouble. After 38 laps, Herbert would retire with problems with his fuel system. These three retirements would put Fittipaldi into a points finishing position.
Meanwhile at the front, Schumacher whom had been pressuring Senna for numerous laps, made a lunge into turn 7. Senna would close the door, to which Schumacher's Benetton collided with the rear of Senna's car and spun. The Benetton driver stalled his engine and was out of the race. Commenting on the accident, James Hunt would state "I think Schumacher could be justified in feeling that he had got enough inside Senna, maybe to have made Senna make room. But the problem is, you know who you are dealing with and its pretty predictable that Senna would stick to his line. Schumacher was trying to retract the move as it happened and he got his front wheel biffed by Senna's rear. They will argue it for a long time but the fact of the matter is it was a racing accident. Its really the nature of the circuit. Schumacher took the risk and it inevitably didn't pay off this time."
With Schumacher's retirement, Berger would move into sixth position in his Ferrari. Nonetheless he would be subsequently lapped by his former teammate, Senna, shortly after moving into the position. There was also commendations for Blundell who had moved up to fourth, behind only Prost, Senna and Patrese. James Hunt commenting "really marvelous race from Mark Blundell, up to fourth place, he qualified well in the Ligier. His first grand prix since 1991 when he was in the less than competitive, Brabham team."
Prost, meanwhile was looking completely unchallenged at the front of the field. He would make short work of the backmarkers of Comas, Warwick and Alboreto and had extended his lead over Senna to 24 seconds. Shortly after being lapped by Prost, Warwick could be seen losing a position to Comas's Larrouse. Comas, however was unlapping himself after earlier problems, he would then go on to unlap himself from Alboreto's Lola. Prost led Senna, Patrese, Blundell, Fittipaldi, Berger, Brundle, Alboreto, Warwick, Comas and Lehto.
Patrese would make a very late pit-stop, however he would maintain position ahead of Blundell whom had made an earlier stop in the race. However Blundell had closed to only two seconds behind Patrese, and as described by James Hunt, "pursuing Patrese for third place." The pressure from Blundell became too much for Patrese and the Benetton driver spun deep into the gravel trap at Yellow Pages. Murray Walker noting "He's been saying all the time here in South Africa that he doesn't know the car well enough. He's done a fair amount of testing, but when you have been with a team as long as Riccardo Patrese has been with Williams, and is under the psychological pressure of being 'released', it can show and it appears to be showing now."
Comas would develop an engine problem in his Lamborghini engine. Comas would desperately attempt to continue in the race, despite the fact his engine was spouting smoke and spilling oil on the track for a number of laps. On lap 51, Comas eventually retired to the pit-lane. A couple of laps later, Alboreto had also brought in his Lola to retire from the race.
Prost meanwhile was dominating the race, he had lapped all of the remaining cars with the exception of Senna. James Hunt noting "the Williams looking a lot more superior in the race than it did in qualifying". Brundle who was running in sixth, three places behind teammate Blundell, would then become the next retirement when he spun and stalled his Ligier.
The seven remaining drivers on the track, would then have further trouble to deal with when a thunderstorm hit the circuit in the final part of the race. The rain had caught out Berger's Ferrari whom was barely able to keep his car out of the barriers after running wide on the slippery surface.
In the last eight laps, the circuit had rapidly become washed out. The rain would cause drama in the final moments of the race. Berger would crawl to a halt due to an engine failure which would mean the battling Warwick and Lehto were now fighting over the final points place.
Most of the drivers were tiptoeing their way around in the torrential rain, the drivers not electing to pit for wet tyres due to the proximity of the race conclusion. On the final lap, Prost with nearly a minute and a half lead over Senna, opted not to overtake the battling Warwick and Lehto before the finish, forcing the two cars to complete an extra lap in the rain.
On the final lap, Warwick who was desperately trying to maintain position ahead of Lehto went flying into the gravel trap and throwing away a points finishing position. Prost therefore took a dominant victory, whilst Senna, whom could be seen collecting a Brazilian flag from the marshalls would take the second place. Fittipaldi, Lehto and Berger would collect the final points positions.
The full results for the 1993 South African Grand Prix are outlined below:
- T Indicates a driver used their test/spare car.
- * Berger and Warwick were still classified despite retiring as they had completed 90% of the race distance.
- 33rd and final South African Grand Prix to be staged.
- Martin Brundle started his 100th Grand Prix.
- Debut race for Michael Andretti, Rubens Barrichello and Luca Badoer.
- Sauber made their F1 debut as both a constructor and engine supplier.
- Alain Prost secured the 50th pole position for a car using #2 as its race number.
- 45th career victory for Prost.
- Williams secured their 62nd win as a constructor.
- Maiden podium finish for Mark Blundell.
Unsurprisingly victory at the opening race had left Alain Prost atop the Championship standings, holding a four point lead over second placed Ayrton Senna. Mark Blundell, meanwhile, was an early third ahead of Christian Fittipaldi, while JJ Lehto and Gerhard Berger completed the early score board.
In the Constructors Championship it was advantage Williams-Renault, who left South Africa with a four point lead. Their closest challengers were McLaren-Ford Cosworth, with Ligier-Renault sat in third after the opening battle. Minardi-Ford Cosworth were next ahead of debutantes Sauber, while Ferrari rounded out the scorers list.
Only point scoring drivers and constructors are shown.
Images and Videos:
- '1993 South African GP', chicanef1.com, (Chicane F1, 2014), http://www.chicanef1.com/racetit.pl?year=1993&gp=South%20African%20GP&r=1, (Accessed 24/07/2019)
- 'South African GP, 1993', grandprix.com, (Inside F1 Inc., 2015), https://www.grandprix.com/gpe/rr533.html, (Accessed 24/07/2019)
- 'South Africa 1993: Entrants', statsf1.com, (Stats F1, 2015), https://www.statsf1.com/en/1993/afrique-du-sud/engages.aspx, (Accessed 24/07/2019)
- 'Panasonic South African Grand Prix - QUALIFYING 1', formula1.com, (Formula One World Championship Ltd., 2019), https://www.formula1.com/en/results.html/1993/races/590/south-africa/qualifying-1.html, (Accessed 24/07/2019)
- 'Panasonic South African Grand Prix - QUALIFYING 2', formula1.com, (Formula One World Championship Ltd., 2019), https://www.formula1.com/en/results.html/1993/races/590/south-africa/qualifying-2.html, (Accessed 24/07/2019)
- 'South Africa 1993: Qualifications', statsf1.com, (Stats F1, 2016), https://www.statsf1.com/en/1993/afrique-du-sud/qualification.aspx, (Accessed 24/07/2019)
- 'South Africa 1993: Result', statsf1.com, (Stats F1, 2016), https://www.statsf1.com/en/1993/afrique-du-sud/classement.aspx, (Accessed 24/07/2019)
- '1. South Africa 1993', statsf1.com, (Stats F1, 2015), https://www.statsf1.com/en/1993/afrique-du-sud.aspx, (Accessed 24/07/2019)
|V T E||South African Grand Prix|
|Circuits||Prince George Circuit (1934–1963), Kyalami Circuit (1965-1993)|
|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|
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