South African GP 1971

MARCH 6, 1971

South African GP, 1971

The tragic 1970 season had ended with the new Tyrrell being the dominant car, although the Ferrari 312B was more reliable and so the Italian team was able to win four of the last five races that year. Over the winter months Mauro Forghieri and his engineers at Ferrari developed the car into 312B/2 form. Jackie Ickx and Clay Regazzoni were retained but the team's third driver Ignazio Giunti was killed in January during the Buenos Aires 1000 sportscar race. He was pushing his Ferrari 312P sportscar back to the pits when he was hit by the Matra of Jean-Pierre Beltoise. As a result Mario Andretti was hired to be the team's third driver. Tyrrell retained Jackie Stewart and Francois Cevert, while Team Lotus also developed its 1970 car for youngsters Emerson Fittipaldi and Reine Wisell (although design work was progressing on the Lotus 56, a gas turbine car powered by Pratt & Whitney engines). March lost both of its 1970 drivers: Chris Amon moving to Matra Sports to join Beltoise and Jo Siffert replacing Jack Oliver at BRM as team mate to Pedro Rodriguez and new boy Howden Ganley. McLaren continued with Denny Hulme and Peter Gethin but the Alfa Romeo engines used by Andrea de Adamich moved to March where the Italian became Ronnie Peterson's teammate in the curious March 711 factory cars. Rob Walker decided that he could no longer afford to continue his private team and transferred his Brooke Bond Oxo sponsorship to Surtees, which recruited second driver Rolf Stommelen (with backing from Auto Moto und Sport and Eifelland caravans) from Brabham.

Walker's decision to stop racing freed Graham Hill and he moved to Brabham (which was now being run by Ron Tauranac) where he was joined by former Williams driver Tim Schenken while Williams entered old Marches for Derek Bell and Matra refugee Henri Pescarolo.

Amon's Matra career got off to a good start when he won the non-championship Argentine GP in Buenos Aires in January but the year began with bitterness for Beltoise who lost his racing license as a result of the Giunti accident and was forced to miss the opening round of the World Championship in South Africa.

In qualifying Jackie Stewart (running on Goodyears rather than Dunlops) was fastest with Amon and Regazzoni alongside him on the front row. Andretti shared row two with Fittipaldi while Surtees, Hulme and Ickx were on row three. There was an impressive performance from local driver Dave Charlton, who qualified 12th in a Lucky Strike-sponsored Brabham.

At the start Regazzoni took the lead with Fittipaldi second ahead of Ickx, Hulme, Rodriguez, Andretti and a slow-starting Stewart. Surtees had also made a bad start and was 11th while Amon made an even worse start and was down in 14th position. In the early laps Hulme moved to second place and on lap 17 he took the lead from Regazzoni. he stayed there until the 76th lap when he suffered a suspension problem and had to pit for repairs. Regazzoni had run second for a while after Hulme overtook him but he was then passed by Surtees and Andretti and a few laps later the American overtook Surtees as well. When Hulme ran into trouble Andretti went ahead and won his first Grand Prix victory. Towards the end of the race Stewart was able to catch and pass Surtees and then Regazzoni and so finished second with the Italian third. The only other man to go the full distance was Wisell in the Lotus, while Amon and Hulme completed the points scorers after Surtees and Fittipaldi went out with mechanical troubles.

Mario Andretti Ferrari 312B 79 1h47m35.500s  
Jackie Stewart Tyrrell-Cosworth 001 79 1h47m56.400s  
Clay Regazzoni Ferrari 312B 79 1h48m06.900s  
Reine Wisell Lotus-Cosworth 72C 79 1h48m44.900s  14 
19 Chris Amon Matra Simca-Matra MS120B 78  
11 Denny Hulme McLaren-Cosworth M19A 78  
28 Brian Redman Surtees-Cosworth TS7 78  17 
Jacky Ickx Ferrari 312B 78  
14 Graham Hill Brabham-Cosworth BT33 77  19 
10 Ronnie Peterson March-Cosworth 711 77  13 
11 22 Henri Pescarolo March-Cosworth 701 77  18 
12 21 Rolf Stommelen Surtees-Cosworth TS7 77  15 
13 Andrea de Adamich March-Alfa Romeo 711 75  22 
Emerson Fittipaldi Lotus-Cosworth 72C 58 Engine 
20 John Surtees Surtees-Cosworth TS9 56 Gearbox 
10 Francois Cevert Tyrrell-Cosworth 002 45 Accident 
27 Howden Ganley BRM P153 42 Driver Ill 24 
16 Pedro Rodriguez BRM P160 33 Overheating 10 
17 Jo Siffert BRM P153 31 Overheating 16 
15 Dave Charlton Brabham-Cosworth BT33 31 Engine 12 
24 John Love March-Cosworth 701 30 Differential 21 
25 Jackie Pretorious Brabham-Cosworth BT26A 22 Engine 20 
12 Peter Gethin McLaren-Cosworth M14A Fuel Line 11 
23 Jo Bonnier McLaren-Cosworth M7C Suspension 23 
26 Alex Soler-Roig March-Cosworth 711 Engine 25