South African GP 1969

South African GP, 1969

The South African Grand Prix kicked off the season as usual but rather than being in January as it had been the race was moved back to March. This meant that the field was far more representative of the year ahead that it had been. There were new driver combinations (as usual) but also new cars.

After the traumatic 1968 season (during which four F1 drivers died in different forms of racing) there was a fairly large switch around of drivers. Team Lotus retained World Champion Graham Hill but his teammate Jack Oliver was dropped and Brabham's Jochen Rindt was hired in his place. Brabham hired Ferrari's new star Jacky Ickx. Brabham switched from Repco to Cosworth power. Ken Tyrrell's Matra International ran with DFVs again and Jackie Stewart was joined by Jean-Pierre Beltoise. McLaren kept Bruce McLaren and Denny Hulme. The disappearance of Honda, Eagle, Cooper and Matra Sports meant that a quiet revolution had taken place. The Cosworth DFV dominated the field. Ferrari ran only one car for Chris Amon while BRM continued with the V12 and hired Oliver and Honda's John Surtees.

The entry for the South African race was bolstered by the usual selection of locals, notably John Love in a Lotus 49, while Team Lotus decided to run a third car for Mario Andretti and Rob Walker continued to run his Lotus 49 for Jo Siffert. BRM also ran three cars with Pedro Rodriguez in the third.

There was a baffling array of new front and rear wings and there were a number of failures in practice. Jack Brabham was delighted with his new Cosworth engines and set the fastest time in qualifying with Rindt's Lotus and Hulme's McLaren sharing the front row. On the second row came Stewart's Matra and Amon's Ferrari while Andretti, Hill and McLaren were side by side on row three. The fastest local driver was Basil Van Rooyen in a McLaren who qualified ninth ahead of Love's Lotus.

At the start of the race Brabham took the lead with Stewart right with him. Then came Rindt, Hill, Hulme and McLaren. At the end of the first lap Stewart moved ahead. He would stay there for the rest of the afternoon. Brabham remained in second place until a rear wing collapsed on lap 7 and Jack was forced to pit. This moved Rindt to second but he was soon overtaken by Hill. The Austrian also dropped behind Hulme but he lost out to Siffert and Andretti, although the American went out after 31 laps with a transmission failure. Hulme then repassed Siffert to take third and the top five positions then stayed the same for the second half of the race with Stewart winning by 18 seconds from Hill with Hulme third.

Jackie Stewart Matra-Cosworth MS10 80 1h50m39.100s  
Graham Hill Lotus-Cosworth 49B 80 1h50m57.900s  
Denny Hulme McLaren-Cosworth M7A 80 1h51m10.900s  
Jo Siffert Lotus-Cosworth 49B 80 1h51m28.300s  12 
Bruce McLaren McLaren-Cosworth M7A 79  
Jean-Pierre Beltoise Matra-Cosworth MS10 78  11 
11 Jackie Oliver BRM P133 77  14 
17 Sam Tingle Brabham-Repco BT24 73  17 
nc 19 Peter de Klerk Brabham-Repco BT20 67  16 
Jochen Rindt Lotus-Cosworth 49B 44 Fuel System 
10 John Surtees BRM P138 40 Engine 18 
12 Pedro Rodriguez BRM P126 38 Water Leak 15 
Chris Amon Ferrari 312 34 Engine 
14 Jack Brabham Brabham-Cosworth BT26A 32 Rear Wing 
Mario Andretti Lotus-Cosworth 49B 31 Gearbox 
16 John Love Lotus-Cosworth 49 31 Ignition 10 
15 Jacky Ickx Brabham-Cosworth BT26A 20 Ignition 13 
18 Basil van Rooyen McLaren-Cosworth M7A 12 Brakes