South African GP 1983
OCTOBER 15, 1983
South African GP, 1983
The World Championship battle between Alain Prost (Renault), Nelson Piquet (Brabham-BMW) and Rene Arnoux (Ferrari) had been finely balanced all season but Prost still ahead as they gathered for the showdown in Kyalami. Williams finally decided it was time to debut the new Honda-engined FW09 and both Keke Rosberg and Jacques Laffite had the new cars. Otherwise the field was unchanged.
Patrick Tambay was on pole position in his Ferrari but Arnoux was in trouble because his car broke down out on the track and when the marshals pushed it, they pushed it over his foot and so he was hobbling badly only fourth on the grid behind the two Brabham-BMWs with Piquet ahead of Riccardo Patrese. Alain Prost was only fifth while Keke Rosberg was an impressive sixth in the new Williams-Honda ahead of Nigel Mansell (Lotus-Renault), Manfred Winkelhock (ATS-BMW), Andrea de Cesaris (Alfa Romeo) and Jacques Laffite in the second Williams-Honda.
At the start Piquet and Patrese both blasted ahead and Tambay and the Brazilian began to build a lead at a remarkable rate. Tambay was soon overtaken by de Cesaris but he then was passed by Prost but the Frenchman could do no better than third and he soon came under pressure from Niki Lauda, charging hard in the McLaren-TAG. On lap 18 Lauda went up to third. Piquet stopped without losing the lead on lap 28 and briefly Prost rose back up the order to third while others pitted but on lap 35 he came in to retire with a turbo failure. Arnoux had gone out early with an engine failure so all Renault could do was hope that Piquet was fail to finish. Piquet began to nurse his car and so Patrese caught him and overtook on lap 60. On lap 69 Lauda also went ahead but two laps later the engine failed and so Piquet was back in second. On lap 75 de Cesaris went up to second but Piquet's car was still going and third place was good enough. He had snatched the World Championship from Prost. The remaining points went to Derek Warwick (Toleman-Hart), Rosberg and the dispirited Eddie Cheever (Renault).
A few days later Prost and Renault split in acrimonious circumstances.