The 1963 South African Grand Prix was the tenth and final round of the 1963 FIA Formula One World Championship, staged at the Prince George Circuit in East London, South Africa. Officially known as the X South African Grand Prix, the race would be remembered for the performance of Jim Clark, who arrived in South Africa with the chance of setting a new record for race wins in a single season having already been declared as World Champion.
The Scot claimed pole in his search for the record, although he would be beaten off the line by Jack Brabham after the Australian put together a perfect start. Yet, by the end of the lap, both Clark and John Surtees had forced their way past the Brabham-Climax, with the two now scrapping for the lead. Trevor Taylor also made a strong start in the second Team Lotus machine to run in fourth, battling with Brabham and Dan Gurney in the early stages.
Clark was quick to drop Surtees, and soon the scarlet car would be harassed by the two Brabhams once they had dealt with Taylor. Both Gurney and Brabham made their way past, although the latter would develop an engine problem and fall to the back of the field. Surtees ran in third for a time before succumbing to an engine failure, promoting Graham Hill into third.
Yet, at the very front of the field, Clark proved untouchable once again as he led every lap to set a new record of seven wins in a season. Gurney claimed second and denied Clark a record fifth Grand Chelem by setting the fastest lap, while Hill enjoyed a quiet race to third. Bruce McLaren, Lorenzo Bandini and Jo Bonnier completed the scorers with only one major change in the Championship standings.
Two months had passed since the Mexican Grand Prix, although the interest in the season finale was rather restricted. High shipping costs meant that only two cars from each major manufacturer were invited to take part, along with a leading European privateer. The rest of the field would be made up from local drivers from South Africa and the nearby territories.
Headlining the entry list were Team Lotus, with Jim Clark's usual challenger issued with #1 for the first time since he had won the Championship. Trevor Taylor was given a brand new car for the race, one which had been built for an exhibition at Earls Court during the break. Both cars had raced at the VI Rand Grand Prix, although they were modified for the World Championship race with the fuel pumps relocated to the front of the radiator to prevent the fuel being vaporised in the heat.
Ferrari had been busy in the break, John Surtees having taken victory in the Rand race in the new "monocoque" Ferrari 156. Lorenzo Bandini was also equipped with a new car for the season finale with an older car in reserve, although the new cars were running with slightly different bodywork. Both also featured updates since the Mexican round, with a redesigned front suspension and other chassis updates.
BRM arrived with their ever-reliable P57s, the British outfit deciding not to ship their new design over to South Africa. Brabham-Climax also attended with two cars, although like BRM they would not bring a full compliment of mechanics. Elsewhere, Cooper-Climax arrived with three T66s as usual, one being run for Jo Bonnier and the RRC Walker Racing Team.
Mike Hailwood was also scheduled to make an appearance in South Africa, although it was confirmed early on that his Lola-Climax would not be arriving. His place was filled by Carel Godin de Beaufort, whom had initially refused an entry on the basis of low starting money, only to arrive in the paddock with his usual Porsche 718 ready to race. Elsewhere there were many familiar faces for the South African fans, although John Love and Sam Tingle would do battle for the honour of Rhodesia.
Clark had been declared as World Champion at the Italian Grand Prix, and his sixth victory of the season in Mexico meant he had also scored maximum points. This meant that the only interest in the Championship would be for the runner up spot, currently held by Richie Ginther. The Californian arrived in East London with a four point lead over team mate Graham Hill, before a two point gap further back to John Surtees as all three went to battle to be second.
Like Clark, Mexico confirmed that Team Lotus would end the season with maximum points, while BRM arrived in South Africa as runner-up in the Intercontinental Cup for Manufacturers standings. That left a fight for third at the season finale, with Ferrari, Brabham and Cooper all potentially able to complete the top three in the Championship.
The full entry list for the 1963 South African Grand Prix is outlined below:
Practice opened on a warm boxing day afternoon, with a cool breeze from the Indian Ocean meaning conditions were almost perfect for the Grand Prix cars. This was followed by an early morning session on Friday, with the pits opening at 6:00 am in cooler conditions before a final session on Friday afternoon. The last session was the hottest, with a strong wind off the coast making the circuit more challenging than before.
When practice opened on Thursday afternoon there was an immediate roar from the pits, with Trevor Taylor leading many of the front runners onto the circuit. What quickly became clear was that the two Team Lotus racers were looking to break the circuit records, with Jim Clark almost instantly getting within a second of his lap record from 1962. Yet, his running would be hampered by a gearbox issue, which prevented him from getting below his record during the opening session.
Elsewhere, John Surtees and Graham Hill put together strong laps to set times just shy of Clark, while most of the local privateers managed to set a time under the qualifying standard of 1:37.0. There were some problems among them, however, with Trevor Blokdyk spraying oil onto the circuit for a time, while Ernie Pieterse had his tyres taken off every time he wanted to change the pressures. Overnight most of the teams were busy with basic maintenance, with the whole field ready for the early start on Friday.
Or so it seemed, for Jo Bonnier, John Love, Sam Tingle and Blokdyk failed to appear at all with last minute problems arising. For everyone else, however, the cool morning temperatures were even better for setting quick times, with Clark orbiting closer and closer to his qualifying record from 1962. After about 20 laps all in the 1:29.0 range, the Scot finally matched his record with a 1:28.9, only for third gear to break again and leave him in the pits. The two Brabham-Climaxes were also impressive, Jack Brabham and Dan Gurney proving to be the Scot's closest challengers only a couple of tenths back.
In contrast to the morning session, the afternoon session on Friday was held in intense heat, meaning the engines would struggle to match their optimal performance. This meant that most drivers failed to improve, including the pace setting Clark, although Graham Hill managed to muscle his BRM round marginally faster than in the morning. Indeed, the only major improvement came from Richie Ginther, the Californian finding nearly a second to just fall shy of team mate Hill's time to join a tight group featuring Lorenzo Bandini and Taylor too.
The full qualifying results for the 1963 South African Grand Prix are outlined below:
|16||18||Peter de Klerk||Alfa Romeo||1:35.7||+6.8s|
|17||20||Sam Tingle||LDS-Alfa Romeo||1:35.8||+6.9s|
|18||16||Doug Serrurier||LDS-Alfa Romeo||1:36.4||+7.5s|
|20||14||Carel Godin de Beaufort||Porsche||1:36.6||+7.7s|
- * Driver was withdrawn after qualifying due to the damage sustained in his accident.
|______________||17||Peter de Klerk|
|Carel Godin de Beaufort||
A hot but gusty day greeted the field on Saturday for the final race of the season, with the Grand Prix cars ready to go for a 3:00 pm start. Before the race there were two motorcycle and two touring car races in support of the Grand Prix as part of a "national speed feast". With thirty seconds to go before the start, all of the drivers pulled clear of the dummy grid and lined up for the start.
A stunning start from second place on the grid saw Jack Brabham streak into the lead of the race, with Dan Gurney managing to out-drag polesitter Jim Clark into the Rifle Bend. John Surtees went with them, trying to take the Scot early in the lap before the green-gold Lotus pounced on the fast starting Brabham-Climaxes. By the time the field wound its way through the complex at the back of the circuit Clark had taken the American, before claiming back the lead from Brabham in the run to Beacon Bend at the end of the opening lap.
The top four ran together to start the second lap, ahead of a short gap to Trevor Taylor who led an enticing battle for fifth. He and Graham Hill had effectively swapped grid positions with an electric start for Taylor seeing him leap ahead of Lorenzo Bandini while Hill fell to ninth. Almost all of the regular Championship runners were to be found in this group, although they also had John Love among them, the Rhodesian harassing Tony Maggs and Jo Bonnier in the early stages.
Yet there was little change on track after the opening lap, with Clark gaining time hand over fist on Surtees, whom managed to weave past the two Brabhams with the new "Aero" spec-Ferrari 156 early on in lap two. There were changes among the local field, however, with Brausch Niemann stopping early on with an issue, while Sam Tingle retired with a drive shaft failure. Next out was Ernie Pieterse, who had a sheared nut tear a hole through the casing of his cam cover causing race ending damage.
Surtees was having a hard time as the cars swept around to start lap five, the two Brabhams easing their way alongside the scarlet Ferrari along the start/finish straight. As Surtees came under pressure, team mate Bandini lost it while trying to attack Taylor, the Italian spinning as the field came through the complex and hence allowing Bruce McLaren, Richie GInther and Hill through. The lead Ferrari was the centre of the attention once again by the end of the lap, with Surtees seeing both Brabham and Gurney outdrag him along the start/finish straight on lap six much to the Englishman's dismay.
Taylor had gained a small advantage over his chasers when Bandini had turned himself around, although the Englishman was to be let down by his gearbox a lap later. Coming through the Esses section of the complex the Lotus decided to refuse Taylor's attempts to find a gear, with the green-gold car pirouetting until the Englishman had found a gear. He rejoined the race down in tenth, just behind Maggs who was being plagued with his own gearbox issues at his home race.
Back with the leaders, and Clark was beyond the horizon as Brabham and Gurney tried to close him down. Yet the campaign to get past Surtees appeared to have put too much stress on the Australian's engine, with the screaming Climax suddenly dropping by 700r.p.m. in a heartbeat, allowing Gurney to sweep past. The restricted power also allowed Surtees to catch up again, with the Englishman drafting by five laps after the New Yorker.
Taylor was fighting back after his issue which appeared to have vanished, taking Maggs and opening the door for Bandini to challenge the ill Cooper. The Englishman soon tagged onto the back of the group he had been leading, with Hill just about to pounce on Brabham. In the space of a lap Hill, McLaren and Ginther had all found their way past, before Taylor followed through a short time later. The quartet quickly dropped the Australian in short order, although Taylor's progress was checked for some time.
At the halfway point, Clark had a half minute lead over Gurney with Surtees slipping away from the New Yorker at a fair rate. That was not to last, however, as Surtees came in on lap 43 after his engine imploded on the run out of the final corner, promoting Hill onto the podium. The Englishman was now on his own, Ginther dropping out with a driveshaft failure after muscling his way past McLaren, who was being harassed by Taylor.
Taylor would also have to stop once his gearbox issue reappeared, although it ultimately proved to be a lose bolt on the selector and so after a quick tighten the second Lotus was back in action, three places down. David Prophet, meanwhile, was one of a number of drivers using a Formula Junior spec car, and on lap 49 and several laps down, the Brit was forced to pull off the circuit with a serious lack of oil pressure. Back with Taylor and the Englishman was making progress once again, Love the first victim of his second charge of the afternoon.
With that, the race was largely done, although there was one last twist to the order before the end. Coming through the Esses on lap 70, Brabham lost the back end of his car and spun onto the grass, only to have a stone split his fuel tank. That left the Australian, who by that stage was several laps down, out of the running, as Clark pulled a full minute clear of the second Brabham-Climax of Gurney at the front of the field.
Apart from a brief battle between Doug Serrurier and Trevor Blokdyk for the final three laps, the order remained unchanged, and after 85 laps of racing, Clark swept home to claim a record seventh win of the season. Gurney came second and, by taking fastest lap for the first time in his career, denied Clark a fifth Grand Chelem, while Hill came home in a comfortable third, but a lap down. The final points of the season went to McLaren, Bandini and Bonnier, with Maggs just falling shy of home points for the first time.
The full results for the 1963 South African Grand Prix are outlined below:
|2||9||Dan Gurney||Brabham-Climax||85||+ 1:06.8||3||6|
|3||5||Graham Hill||BRM||84||+ 1 lap||6||4|
|4||10||Bruce McLaren||Cooper-Climax||84||+ 1 lap||9||3|
|5||4||Lorenzo Bandini||Ferrari||84||+ 1 lap||5||2|
|6||12||Jo Bonnier||Cooper-Climax||83||+ 2 laps||11||1|
|7||11||Tony Maggs||Cooper-Climax||82||+ 3 laps||10|
|8||2||Trevor Taylor||Lotus-Climax||81||+ 4 laps||8|
|9||19||John Love||Cooper-Climax||80||+ 5 laps||13|
|10||14||Carel Godin de Beaufort||Porsche||79||+ 6 laps||20|
|11||16||Doug Serrurier||LDS-Alfa Romeo||78||+ 7 laps||18|
|12||23||Trevor Blokdyk||Cooper-Maserati||77||+ 8 laps||19|
|14||21||Brausch Niemann||Lotus-Ford||66||+ 19 laps||15|
|Ret||18||Peter de Klerk||Alfa Romeo||53||Gearbox||16|
|Ret||22||David Prophet||Brabham-Climax||49||Oil Pressure||14|
|Ret||20||Sam Tingle||LDS-Alfa Romeo||2||Halfshaft||17|
- * Brabham was still classified despite retiring before the end of the race.
- Debut for Sam Tingle.
- Graham Hill's fiftieth Grand Prix start.
- Maiden fastest lap for Dan Gurney.
- Jim Clark set a new record for wins in a season with seven.
- Also the Scot's tenth in total.
- Fifteenth win for a Team Lotus built car.
- Also the constructor's twenty fifth podium finish.
- Gurney earned his tenth podium finish.
- First time in Grand Prix history that all races in a single season had been won by drivers from a single nation (Great Britain).
- Fifteenth race in a row won by a British driver.
Jim Clark had earned maximum points already in 1963, but the additional nine meant his "unofficial" tally stood at 73 for the season. Only Graham Hill and John Surtees had managed to deny the Scot victory in 1963, and it was the former with his single win in Monaco that ended the season as Clark's closest challenger with 29 points. Surtees found himself in fourth, seven down on Richie Ginther whom had equalled the tally of his team mate Hill, but on the "unofficial" scoreboard was five clear of the Englishman. Dan Gurney rounded out the top five, slipping ahead of Bruce McLaren with his podium to complete the season.
Like Clark, Team Lotus were now officially crowned as the Intercontinental Cup for Manufacturers Champions despite having won the Championship in Italy. The "unofficial" score came to 74 courtesy of a single point from Trevor Taylor which was added to Clark's 73, although like the World Championship they were officially registered as scoring 54. BRM ended their title defence as runners-up, while Brabham-Climax jumped into third at the final race by overtaking Ferrari, thanks to Gurney's podium. Cooper-Climax ended the year a point off the Scuderia in fifth.
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, 1963', grandprix.com, (Inside F1 Inc., 2016), http://www.grandprix.com/gpe/rr121.html, (Accessed 13/06/2016)
- ↑ 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 2.65 2.66 M.J.T., '10th South African Grand Prix: Clark Wins Seventh World Championship Race', motorsportmagazine.com, (Motor Sport Magazine, 01/02/1964), http://www.motorsportmagazine.com/archive/article/february-1964/32/10th-south-african-grand-prix, (Accessed 14/06/2016)
- ↑ 'South Africa 1963: Entrants', statsf1.com, (Stats F1, 2016), http://www.statsf1.com/en/1963/afrique-du-sud/engages.aspx, (Accessed 14/06/2016)
- ↑ 'South Africa 1963: Qualifications', statsf1.com, (Stats F1, 2016), http://www.statsf1.com/en/1963/afrique-du-sud/qualification.aspx, (Accessed 14/06/2016)
- ↑ 'South Africa 1963: Result', statsf1.com, (Stats F1, 2016), http://www.statsf1.com/en/1963/afrique-du-sud/classement.aspx, (Accessed 14/06/2016)
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