South African GP 1977

MARCH 5, 1977

South African GP, 1977

There was a six week gap between the Brazilian and South African GPs but little had changed in the F1 field in that period. Ian Scheckter had broken his ankle in a Formula Atlantic race in South Africa and so Hans Stuck took his place at March. Fittipaldi was back down to one car again but there were two new teams both using old March 761s: BS Fabrications entered a Chesterfield-sponsored car for Brett Lunger while F&S Properties had bought a car for Boy Hayje and this was being run by RAM Racing.

Qualifying resulted in James Hunt taking his third consecutive pole position in his McLaren while Carlos Pace put the new Brabham-Alfa Romeo BT45B second on the grid. Then came Niki Lauda's Ferrari, Patrick Depailler's Tyrrell, Jody Scheckter in the Wolf and Mario Andretti in the Lotus. Seventh on the grid was Ronnie Peterson (Tyrrell) with Carlos Reutemann (Ferrari) eighth, Emerson Fittipaldi (Fittipaldi) ninth and Gunner Nilsson (Lotus) 10th.

At the start Pace had too much wheelspin and so Hunt went off into the lead with Lauda, Scheckter and Depailler behind him. Pace slotted in ahead of Mass and Andretti. In the early laps Hunt and Lauda ran nose-to-tail but at the start of the seventh lap the Austrian took the lead and gradually began to get away. Hunt dropped back and came under pressure from Scheckter. On the 18th lap Scheckter took the position.

At the back of the field Renzo Zorzi's Shadow stopped at the side of the track at the end of lap 21 with a split fuel pipe. There was a small fire and two marshals ran across the track, thinking that no-one was coming, despite the fact that they were on the wrong side of a blind brow. Stuck and Pryce arrived, almost side-by-side. Pryce hit the second marshal, who was carrying a fire extinguisher. The man (who was killed instantly) was thrown into the air but the extinguisher hit Pryce on the head, killing him instantly. The Shadow continued down the straight, moving gradually to the right and Laffite, who was unsure what was going on, moved alongside as the two cars approached Crowthorne. The Shadow glanced off the barriers and went straight into the Ligier. Fortunately Laffite was unhurt.

The race went on but the only change at the front came on lap 67 when Hunt slipped back to fourth place behind Depailler. Lauda won but for most of the race had been watching as gauges as part of Pryce's rollbar had become lodged in Lauda's water radiator and the temperatures were rising slowly as the race went on.

11 Niki Lauda Ferrari  78 1h42m21.600s  
20 Jody Scheckter Wolf-Cosworth  78 1h42m26.800s  
Patrick Depailler Tyrrell-Cosworth  78 1h42m27.300s  
James Hunt McLaren-Cosworth  78 1h42m31.100s  
Jochen Mass McLaren-Cosworth  78 1h42m41.500s  13 
John Watson Brabham-Alfa Romeo  78 1h42m41.800s  11 
19 Vittorio Brambilla Surtees-Cosworth  78 1h42m45.200s  14 
12 Carlos Reutemann Ferrari  78 1h42m48.300s  
22 Clay Regazzoni Ensign-Cosworth  78 1h43m07.800s  16 
10 28 Emerson Fittipaldi Copersucar-Cosworth  78 1h43m33.300s  
11 18 Hans Binder Surtees-Cosworth  77  19 
12 Gunnar Nilsson Lotus-Cosworth  77  10 
13 Carlos Pace Brabham-Alfa Romeo  76  
14 30 Brett Lunger March-Cosworth  76  23 
15 14 Larry Perkins Stanley BRM-BRM  73  22 
Alex-Dias Ribeiro March-Cosworth  66 Engine 17 
10 Hans-Joachim Stuck Brabham-Alfa Romeo  55 Engine 18 
Mario Andretti Lotus-Cosworth  43 Accident/front Suspension 
33 Boy (Johan Gerard) Hayje March-Cosworth  33 Gearbox 21 
16 Tom Pryce Shadow-Cosworth  22 Fatal Accident 15 
26 Jacques Laffite Ligier-Matra  22 Accident 12 
17 Renzo Zorzi Shadow-Cosworth  21 Engine 20 
Ronnie Peterson Tyrrell-Cosworth  Fuel Pressure