The 1962 South African Grand Prix, officially known as the IX South African Grand Prix, held on the 29th of December at the Prince George Circuit in East London, was the final round of the 1962 FIA Formula One World Championship. The race served as the Championship decider, with either Graham Hill or Jim Clark set to leave South Africa with a maiden Formula One crown.
It had been advantage Clark after qualifying, with the Scot claiming pole in what was the biggest sporting event ever to be held in South Africa. At the start it was the green and gold Team Lotus that led into the first corner, with Clark immediately setting fastest lap on the third tour as Hill ran in second. The Scot put together a dominant display to pull ever further ahead of his rival, and with a quarter of the race to go the title was in his hands. Or so it seemed, for the Climax in the back of Clark's car was beginning to smoke, and with just twenty laps to go the Scot was in the pits, ultimately out of the race due to an oil leak.
Hill inherited the lead and twenty laps later was officially confirmed as World Champion having pulled clearly ahead of Bruce McLaren and Tony Maggs. The two Cooper-Climax racers would complete the podium behind the Englishman, with McLaren also completing the top three in the Championship, falling three behind Clark. After nine races in seven months the 1962 season was over, with BRM also completing a double by winning the Intercontinental Cup for Manufacturers.
Three months after the last World Championship race in the United States, the field gathered in East London, although the mood ahead of an enticing Championship decider was rather mooted. There had been three non-Championship races since the last World Championship race, with the honours in all three going to the Team Lotus drivers Trevor Taylor (2) or Jim Clark (1). Yet, there had been tragedy in two of those races, with two accidents claiming the lives of drivers racing for the Rob Walker Racing Team, and ending the careers of two promising young talents.
The first came at the I Mexican Grand Prix with Ricardo Rodríguez, the now ex-Ferrari driver racing for the privateer Rob Walker team in his home début. The Mexican, however, would never make it to the start after a heavy crash in practice left him with fatal injuries. His death was a shock for many, but within a couple of months Rob Walker and the F1 world would be mourning once again, this time at the II Natal Grand Prix. Rhodesian racer Gary Hocking was running their sole remaining Lotus 24 in practice, before a mistake meant he ran wide into a ditch which threw his car into the air before landing heavily and killing the Motorbike racer instantly.
With a black mark once again hanging over the world of motorsport, the best way to alleviate the hurt was to go racing once again. The British constructors were out in force as usual, Team Lotus and BRM leading the charge bringing three of the latest examples of their challengers from 1962. Both outfits would bring a brand new car along with their usual compliment, with Clark and Hill set to try out the updated machinery as they went for the title.
BRM had also added a fourth car for Bruce Johnston, a local racer although a late engine delivery meant he failed to appear in practice at all. Elsewhere, Cooper-Climax were to be in action with their familiar pairing of Bruce McLaren and Tony Maggs both in T60s once again. Jack Brabham arrived with his blue and gold Brabham BT3 too, the Australian not bringing any updates for his own machinery. Lola-Climax were also back for action, their familiar Mk4s being piloted by equally recognisable racers John Surtees and Roy Salvadori.
Headlining the privateer entries were the UDT Laystall Racing Team, although they only had a car for Innes Ireland available, while Carel Godin de Beaufort brought his Porsche over from Europe. The rest of the field featured a mix of experimental machinery and local blood, with Rhodesian racer John Love among the favourites for local honours in older cars. Emeryson were also back with Tony Settember at the wheel to complete the best attended South African Grand Prix.
Ahead of the season finale, and despite the unusual dropped score rule, the Championship would be a delightfully simple affair in South Africa, as Clark and Hill came to their final battle. Hill brought a nine point lead, and only had to finish ahead of Clark, or see the Scot fail to win the race. For Clark it was also a simple situation, as victory would earn him the total on wins, for he would end with four victories to the Englishman's three. McLaren looked set for third, with Dan Gurney (absent from South Africa with Porsche refusing to attend) and John Surtees completing the top five.
The Intercontinental Cup for Manufacturers, in contrast, did have a more complicated decider ahead, although with Team Lotus and BRM so dominant in 1962 few doubted that one of the pair would fail to score a final victory. Three points separated the two, and a win for either would seal the crown on dropped scores although the situation got more complicated as the points got lower. Cooper, meanwhile, were destined for third with Lola now guaranteed fourth with Porsche and Ferrari absent.
The full entry list for the 1962 South African Grand Prix is outlined below:
- * Hocking was still included on the entry list as it was submitted before his death.
Practice and qualifying would run as one as ever, with the first session opening on Wednesday afternoon, Boxing day across the world. The intense heat of South Africa on Boxing day brought many sarcastic comments about the weather at Brands Hatch in the UK, the traditional host of racing action after Christmas. Additional sessions were held on Thursday, the end of the session affected by a shower, before a very early session on Friday morning to allow the marshals to go to work before the race on Saturday.
The two title contenders were out the moment the track opened on Thursday, both getting used to the circuit in their usual steeds before attempting to run the brand new cars later in the day. Jim Clark was, however, running a modified engine, the first Climax to feature fuel injection as they sought to find an advantage over the more powerful BRM V8. The Scot was left to report of power wavering down the back straight before getting into the new chassis, while Hill's first run in his new P57 ended after only three laps with the Englishman cutting out a seizing engine as he coasted into the pits.
Clark was operating as a development driver for much of the opening day, the injection engine producing a confusing situation for the Team Lotus mechanics. Having bled the system numerous times the mechanics decided to lengthen the fuel pipes, run them past the cockpit and back to the engine before sending Clark back out to see if he could spot air bubbles in the system. Clark did so with reluctance, stating that the operation was "a little dodgy", as rival Hill set the fastest time of the first day at 1:33.4.
The Thursday session opened with a camera car on the circuit, the drivers instructed to follow the car around for the first few minutes of the session. Hill abandoned his early running after just one lap, memories of his huge accident at the German Grand Prix undoubtedly on his mind. The session was very busy once the camera car disappeared, with Trevor Taylor and Carel Godin de Beaufort spinning several times on the slippery circuit. The times, however, were steadily coming down, and just before the end of the day (and the rain), Clark forced the fuel injected Lotus round to set the first time of the meeting under 1:30.0.
The early run on Friday, starting at 6:00 in the morning, was held in perfect conditions, with every driver taking part except Roy Salvadori, who was happy with his work over the previous two days. Taylor took over the fuel injection car after his engine seized, while Hill returned to his old car as he hunted down Clark. An oil leak on the new BRM was quickly cured with the Englishman working his way down to a 1:29.6. That, however, was only good enough for second, for Clark had managed to stroke the fuel injected car round at a record 1:28.9. He had also set a 1:29.3 in his usual car, and so when Team Lotus opted to drop the fuel injection car for their usual runners, the Scot retained pole.
The full qualifying results for the 1962 South African Grand Prix are outlined below:
|14||21||Doug Serrurier||LDS-Alfa Romeo||1:36.8||+7.5s|
|15||22||Mike Harris||Cooper-Alfa Romeo||1:39.1||+9.8s|
|16||15||Carel Godin de Beaufort||Porsche||1:39.2||+9.9s|
|NC*||5||Bruce Johnstone||BRM||No Time|
|WD||16||Syd van der Vyver||Lotus-Climax||Withdrawn|
- * Johnstone did not complete a lap in practice, but would be allowed to start from the back of the grid.
|Carel Godin de Beaufort||______________|
Around 90,000 people had arrived in time for the start of the race, with many on the circuit as the drivers completed a parade lap in the back of a fleet of MGs. The race start was scheduled for 3:00 in the afternoon, and once the crowds were cleared away from the edge of the circuit, the Championship was ready for its final battle. With no mechanical issues reported, the grid formed without issue, Bruce Johnstone set to start from the back despite failing to set a time in practice, as Graham Hill and Jim Clark went toe-to-toe for the title.
It was a picture perfect start for Clark, the Lotus 25 pulling away without any hint of wheelspin, just pure acceleration. Hill, in contrast, left the grid in a cloud of smoke from over-spinning rear wheels, the BRM racer hoping to use the outright power of his BRM engine to take the Lotus through brute force. The attempt failed leaving Clark to sweep into the first corner in the lead ahead of the Englishman as everyone bar Ernie Pieterse left in grid order.
Clark led the field by a second as they steamed past the pits for the first time, Pieterse's car being worked on after refusing to start on the grid a few yards away, with Clark ahead by one second from Hill. Next came a three way scrap for third, John Surtees the meat in a Cooper-Climax sandwich being led by Tony Maggs, with Richie Ginther trailing a small way back in sixth. Innes Ireland and Jack Brabham were next to fly past in an intense battle for seventh, before a herd of cars being led by Neville Lederle.
Trevor Taylor cleared the rest of the Lederle train on lap two to run in ninth as the race started its third lap, with Clark pulling another second clear from Hill. The next time through Clark pulled another second clear by claiming the fastest lap, with the Scot and the Englishman already well ahead of the battle for third. Back with Taylor and he was attacking Brabham as the fourth lap came to a close, with both he and the Australian putting Ireland under huge pressure for seventh, although the Englishman refused to be moved.
The intense battle for seventh became a battle for sixth a few laps later, with Ginther limping round the back of the circuit with an unhealthy sounding engine. Moments earlier, Brabham had forced his way past Ireland, opening the door for Taylor to follow his way through on the next lap, although they still ran together for the next few laps. The scrap for third was also heating up, with Maggs still leading as Bruce McLaren took Surtees for fourth to run behind his team mate.
Indeed for the next few laps the battle for third would attract all of the attention, with Surtees re-passing McLaren before finally finding his way past Maggs a lap later. As Surtees surged so too did his team mate Roy Salvadori, who was slowly creeping through the home contingent to enter the top ten, John Love and Pieterse falling victim to the second Lola. The fight for sixth, meanwhile, was to be ended when Taylor dropped out of the race, suffering yet another transmission failure.
As the race reached a quarter distance McLaren put together a strong series of laps to elbow his way to third, taking Maggs and Surtees on successive laps. Ginther, meanwhile, had to disappear for a couple of laps with a misfire on his BRM threw him into two spins in as many laps, while the customer car in the hands of Johnstone was found to have had the ignition terminals put on the wrong way round. After the delay cost the American five places the BRM was being slung around the circuit, and he was already rising through the field with a now perfectly healthy BRM engine.
As Ginther rejoined Surtees came in, the Lola suffering from a broken valve and so was out of the running promoting Maggs into fourth. Back with Ginther and he was in the heart of the local group, taking Mike Harris before he was forced out with a recurring issue for his Cooper-Alfa Romeo. A relatively quiet period followed Ginther's charge, with Clark leading Hill by almost half a minute as the race reached half distance.
The race now looked decidedly in Clark's favour as Hill continued to fall back by a second a lap, as Salvadori retired the second Lola from seventh place. Yet, all was not well in the leading Lotus, and on lap 61 a blue trail of smoke followed the green and gold car as it flashed past the pits. Within three laps Clark was out, an oil leak eventually being diagnosed because of a two inch long bolt had worked its way lose at the bottom of the crank shaft, the locking washer having never been fitted. With the Scot climbing out of the car the Championship was over, with Hill also inheriting the race lead with just twenty laps to go.
The next few laps passed without incident, with the order settled long before the flag barring mechanical failures. But, it would ultimately be the day of BRM and Hill, with the Englishman sweeping home to victory after a little over two hours of racing. Just under thirty seconds back came McLaren and Maggs, who crossed the line almost as one with McLaren ahead, with Brabham now a lonely fourth a minute behind the race winner. The final points went to Ireland, his first of the season, and local racer Lederle, as Hill completed his victory lap as the new World Champion.
The full results for the 1962 South African Grand Prix are outlined below:
|5||11||Innes Ireland||Lotus-Climax||81||+1 lap||4||2|
|6||20||Neville Lederle||Lotus-Climax||78||+4 laps||10||1|
|7||4||Richie Ginther||BRM||78||+4 laps||7|
|8||18||John Love||Cooper-Climax||78||+4 laps||12|
|9||5||Bruce Johnstone||BRM||76||+6 laps||17|
|10||14||Ernie Pieterse||Lotus-Climax||71||+11 laps||13|
|11*||15||Carel Godin de Beaufort||Porsche||70||Fuel pump||16|
|Ret||1||Jim Clark||Lotus-Climax||62||Oil leak||1|
|Ret||21||Doug Serrurier||LDS-Alfa Romeo||62||Radiator||14|
|Ret||22||Mike Harris||Cooper-Alfa Romeo||31||Steering||15|
|WD||16||Syd van der Vyver||Lotus-Climax|
- * Godin de Beaufort still classified as a finisher despite failing to complete the final lap.
- Graham Hill won the World Championship for the first time.
- Hill's fourth victory of his career and the season.
- Fifth win for BRM.
With victory came the spoils, as Graham Hill claimed a maiden Championship crown with his fourth win of the season, claiming a corrected tally of 42 points. The vanquished Jim Clark ended the year on 30 points, twelve behind without any dropped scores with his retirements all due to mechanical failures in the advanced Lotus 25. Bruce McLaren retained third at the final weekend, while John Surtees claimed an impressive fourth for Lola-Climax in the Championship. Defending World Champion Phil Hill ended the year in sixth, with only a third the points tally of his namesake.
Graham Hill's victory also handed BRM their maiden Intercontinental Cup for Manufacturers title, beating Lotus-Climax by six points in the end. Cooper-Climax had finished third a further seven back, while Lola-Climax completed a stunning run to end the year ahead of Porsche and Ferrari. It had been a miserable year for the Scuderia, the scarlet outfit finishing the year in sixth, with Brabham-Climax and UDT Laystall Racing Team rounding out the scorers.
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 'GRAND PRIX RESULTS: SOUTH AFRICAN GP, 1962', grandprix.com, (Inside F1 Inc., 2016), http://www.grandprix.com/gpe/rr111.html, (Accessed 31/05/2016)
- ↑ 2.00 2.01 2.02 2.03 2.04 2.05 2.06 2.07 2.08 2.09 2.10 2.11 2.12 2.13 2.14 2.15 2.16 2.17 2.18 2.19 2.20 2.21 2.22 2.23 2.24 2.25 2.26 2.27 2.28 2.29 2.30 2.31 2.32 2.33 2.34 2.35 2.36 2.37 2.38 2.39 2.40 2.41 2.42 2.43 2.44 2.45 2.46 2.47 2.48 2.49 2.50 2.51 2.52 2.53 2.54 2.55 2.56 2.57 2.58 2.59 2.60 2.61 2.62 2.63 2.64 'The 9th South African Grand Prix', motorsportmagazine.com, (Motor Sport Magazine, 01/02/1963), http://www.motorsportmagazine.com/archive/article/february-1963/28/9th-south-african-grand-prix, (Accessed 31/05/2016)
- ↑ 'South Africa 1962: Entrants', statsf1.com, (Stats F1, 2016), http://www.statsf1.com/en/1962/afrique-du-sud/engages.aspx, (Accessed 31/05/2016)
- ↑ 'South Africa 1962: Qualifications', statsf1.com, (Stats F1, 2016), http://www.statsf1.com/en/1962/afrique-du-sud/qualification.aspx, (Accessed 31/05/2016)
- ↑ 'South Africa 1962: Result', statsf1.com, (Stats F1, 2016), http://www.statsf1.com/en/1962/afrique-du-sud/classement.aspx, (Accessed 01/06/2016)
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