#132 1965 South African Grand Prix

2022-05-15 00:00

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#1965, Fulvio Conti, Translated by Rosita Raso, Nicoletta Zuppardo,

#132 1965 South African Grand Prix

By moving the date of the South African Grand Prix forward by one week, the race becomes the first Championship Event for 1965 instead of the last eve


On Sunday, 27 December 1964, World Champion John Surtees and Lorenzo Bandini have been in Johannesburg for a few hours, where they will take part in the South African Grand Prix, to be held on the East London circuit on 1 January 1965. On Monday, 29 December 1964, the two Scuderia Ferrari drivers will run the first tests with two cars equipped with 8 and 12-cylinder engines. In previous editions of the World Championship the South African Grand Prix was included in the competitive calendar as the final round. This year the Formula One season ended in October with the Mexican Grand Prix and the organisers preferred to include the African race at the beginning of 1965 in order to give it a world championship status, as the 1964 regulation races for the title had already been held. 1965 will be the last year of the 1500 cc Formula 1 cars and it is easy to foresee that both Ferrari and the British manufacturers will not make too many changes to the cars that were the protagonists of the last World Championship. Ferrari will still bet on the tried and tested car equipped with an 8-cylinder engine that secured John Surtees the world title, and on the car equipped with a 12-cylinder engine that had reached a good tuning in the last months of 1964. Competitive motor racing knows no breaks in continuity: just two months ago the 1964 season ended with Surtees and Ferrari winning the two Formula 1 world titles (drivers and constructors), and on New Year's Day the first episode of the 1965 World Championship will take place, with the South African Grand Prix. Almost an appendix to the thrilling events of the 1964 championship, 1965 starts with the race in East London, which will award the first points for next year's title.


Needless to say, the brief interruption between the Mexican and South African Grands Prix certainly did not allow the teams to prepare new mechanical means, but if anything to complete the tuning of those that appeared at the end of last season: the Lotus and the B.R.M., the well-known 8-cylinder cars with modified chassis, Ferrari the promising 12-cylinder 512 (which will be entrusted only to Bandini, while Surtees will still drive the 158). The only variations in the official teams are those concerning Jackie Stewart, who takes Ginther's place in the B.R.M. team, and Jochen Rindt. For the rest, we will see the usual line-ups. In the meantime, the organisers of the 24 Hours of Le Mans announce the regulations for the race to be held on 19 and 20 June 1965: cars with a minimum cylinder capacity of 1000 cc are admitted; the formula used to calculate the imposed distances and which is used to establish the performance index ranking is modified, increasing the minimum distance for large displacements and decreasing that for smaller cars (for a 1000 cc car, the imposed distance decreases by about two percent, and is increased by three percent for a 3000 cc); cars which lag behind the required average by thirty percent (instead of the previous twenty percent) will be eliminated after six hours of racing. At the end of the eighteen hours, cars with a delay of fifteen per cent (instead of twenty per cent) will be eliminated; for the energy efficiency index classification, the weight of the vehicle with a full tank of fuel will be taken into account; a fire extinguisher, easily accessible, must be fitted to all cars; in place of the interchangeability of the front and rear wheels, which has not been respected up to now, the spare wheel must be able to be mounted either at the front or at the rear; the minimum required lap speed during official practice is increased and becomes 155 km/h for cars from 1000 cc to 1500 cc; 165 km/h for cars from 1500 cc to 2000 cc; 175 km/h for cars from 2000 cc to 3000 cc and 180 km/h for cars over 3000 cc; the distribution of prizes is modified.


In effect, the prizes for the distance and fuel efficiency index classification are increased, while those for the performance index classification are reduced. 1965 thus marked a new aspect of the 24 Hours of Le Mans, showing the organisers' desire to emphasise performance as a function of fuel consumption rather than displacement. This had been their intention for several years. In 1964, two cars of the same weight, equipped with engines of different displacements, completed the test running less fast and consuming less, and the smaller car came out on top in the performance index. It is certain, therefore, that a ranking that takes speed, weight and consumption into account is much closer to practical reality than one that only takes speed and engine capacity into account. By moving the date of the South African Grand Prix forward by one week, the race becomes the first Championship Event for 1965 instead of the last event of 1964. This means that there is no South African Grand Prix for 1964. The race is held as in previous years over 85 laps of the East London circuit which is just outside the town and lies along the side of the sea. The entry is the best to date, with sixteen invited starters and nine entrants fighting for the last four places. These nine are selected from fourteen entries which have to better 1'37"0 at an informal practice the day before official practice begins, but times at this session mean nothing in terms of grid positions. Ferrari have two cars for Surtees and Bandini.


The former is driving a V8, while the Italian drives a flat-twelve. It is nice to see the two cars back in the proper colour, and the entry is in Dragoni’s name, Enzo Ferrari still not having his own competition licence. In the B.R.M. team Graham Hill has a new teammate, Jackie Stewart, the young Scot, being entered for his first Grande Epreuve. Three cars have come down from Bourne, a new car for Stewart basically the same as the car used by Hill at Mexico, Hill’s car being unaltered since the Mexican race. As a spare, there is one of the old cars, in case of accident. Chapman has two cars for Clark and Spence. Clark’s car is being called a 33B, now that the exhaust pipes come through between the top and bottom wishbones, and both cars are as used at Mexico. Two Brabhams for constructor-driver Jack Brabham and his No 1 driver, Gurney, are now the same. Gurney has a brand new car which is almost the same as Brabham’s. A difference of opinion has developed between the two drivers over which tyres they are to use. Gurney wants Goodyear, whilst Brabham wants the faster Dunlops, so when the cars go out to the first practice they are, in fact, on different tyres. John Cooper’s No 2 driver, like B.R.M.’s is new to F1 racing. Jochen Rindt is racing in only his second Grand Prix, the first being at Zeltweg in Rob Walker’s spare car. McLaren is still Cooper’s No 1 driver, and both cars are very little altered. By using rear wheel castings on the front Coopers has widened the front track by 3in which helps with stability. The Rob Walker racing team will now be making two entries everywhere, with Bonnier driving the Brabham-Climax and Siffert driving a Brabham-B.R.M., both cars in the Walker dark blue. 


Bob Anderson has his Brabham-Climax still on carburetters, although he is changing it to fuel injection on his return to England. Parnell has one car for Tony Maggs, this being the Lotus-B.R.M. which the team have used since Zeltweg. Newcomers to Formula One racing, the Willment team have two cars for Frank Gardner and Paul Hawkins. The first car with a definite entry is a Brabham-B.R.M. This car consists of the ex-Walker chassis and a good B.R.M. engine they got from Siffert. The other car which has to compete for one of the four places is the F2 Brabham with twin cam Lotus-Ford engine, which the Willment team raced last year. Last of the guaranteed entries is for John Love, this year’s South African champion driver, who is driving his same 4-cylinder Cooper-Climax. To continue down the list of contenders for the South African Grand Prix, three drivers fail to turn up; these are Read in an RE Alfa, Clapham in a Cooper-Maserati, and Blignaught in a Cooper-Climax. David Prophet has his F2 Brabham-Ford. O Nucci has two cars entered for P de Klerk and D Serrurier, the former driving the Alfa Special he ran last year, whilst Serrurier is to drive an LDS Climax, the engine being one of the old 4-cylinders. E Pieterse has a Lotus-Climax 4-cylinder. Also driving Lotus-Climax 4-cylinders are N Lederley and C Puzey. Sam Tingle has his LDS Alfa. B Nieman is driving Ted Lanfear’s Lotus-Ford, this not being one of the Lotus twin-cam engines and Blokdyke is to drive a Cooper-Ford, Pretorious a Lotus-Climax and Charlton a Lotus-Ford. At the special pre-practice elimination trial Charlton, Pretorious and Puzey fail to go faster than the 1'37"0 necessary. First practice on Wednesday afternoon is under hot sun, with a fairly strong wind.


First out is Stewart going off for the first time in a B.R.M. Next away is Surtees in the V8 Ferrari, Gurney in his new Brabham on Goodyear tyres and Clark, who is fastest in last year’s practice, with a time of 1'28"9, a speed of 58.696 km/h. B.R.M. have Goodyear tyres on their spare car, and Hill goes out in this while his car is being worked on. He does a number of laps and then brings the car in to have the Goodyear tyres changed to Dunlop yellow-spot. While this is being done, he again goes out in the new car and as he passes the pits the engine blows up. Back at the garage it is found that a camshaft has sheared and when the sump drops, it is found to contain a con-rod. As this is an engine specifically flown out for the car it does not do very well. When the spare car is finally fitted with Dunlop tyres, Hill does another series of laps when he proves to himself and B.R.M.’s that the R6 yellow-spot is 1 second a lap faster over a 90sec lap and with the introduction of the R7 tread there may again be another improvement. This is the first time any team has tested the two tyres on the same car, on the same day, under identical conditions. Spence is beginning to get his times down when he starts to have difficulty with the hairpin and three times in a very few laps he spins. Jack Brabham is out late as he decides to have the Goodyear tyres off and put on Dunlop, which hold up his start. Also, late due to having tyres changed is Bonnier’s Brabharn-Climax. Both Surtees and Clark are under 1'30"0 within the first hour. Surtees with 1'28"6 and Clark with 1'28"3. The organisers have forecast through the press that there can be a 100-mile per hour lap which means a time of 1'27"6.


The flat-twelve Ferrari which arrives only on the morning of practice has the six pipes per side going into one, which create an exhaust note that is most painful to the ears, but as it is changed back to six into two by the next day, it obviously does not improve the performance. Clark’s times are getting faster, and it is not long before he is under 1'28"0 at which stage it is noted that his tell-tale is around 12.000 revs, each time but this does not indicate a new engine-only a faulty rev-counter. Brabham comes to a halt just beyond the pits when he has transistor trouble, but he is out again in a very short time. Siffert and Maggs are both in whilst their gear ratios are changed, and the latter is practising on green-spot tyres for this session, to be changed to yellow-spots for the second practice. The Cooper team are having some troubles; Rindt’s gear ratios are not right, and McLaren has broken his rear shock-absorbers, although he has satisfied himself that the wider track on the front helps with the car’s handling. Also in trouble is Anderson, who has a series of small things go wrong with the car, including the starter motor packing up. Clark has a final go with his Lotus and sets a time of 1'27"6 which is just over the 100-mile an hour the organisers were hoping for. The tailenders are thrashing around, some slower than others, and are baulking to a certain extent the faster cars. However, the Clerk of the Course has words with some of the offenders and things improve. Hawkins and Prophet are fastest on the first day and if they hold this, it may only let in two South African drivers. Second practice is at 6am the next morning when it is hoped that with the wind having dropped and the cooler air, improved times can result. B.R.M. change Hill’s broken engine and also the lightweight gearbox is changed to the older, heavier box, as Graham has found the intermediate ratios from this box suit the corners better, which is the reason he was faster in the training car in practice instead of the race car.


Maggs has the steering box changed on the Lotus-B.R.M. and he also is on yellow-spot tyres. First out are McLaren, Siffert, Brabbam, Hawkins and Bonnier, all lined up at the exit to the pit road some minutes before the track is opened for practice. Only Love and Pieterse do not turn up at all, but Hawkins is not given a time as he comes into the pits after one lap. The cold air gauze in a carburetter has sucked in and gets under a valve, which ends his morning’s practice. Clark gets in 1'30"0 in four laps and in nine laps is down to 1'28"5. The flat-twelve Ferrari has 550 front tyres, while the V8 is on the usual 600’s. Rindt’s Cooper is changed to yellow-spot tyres and also his car’s front track is widened as McLaren’s. Siffert is in after only a few laps and replaces the high-pressure fuel pump. Hill comes in with oil all over his gearbox but this, fortunately, only comes from the catch tank overflowing. Stewart comes into the pits after a short time with misfiring and then the car refuses to start. The mechanics think this is something serious and lift a cam cover to see if another camshaft has gone but it hasn’t, and when eventually they do discover what is wrong, it turns out to be nothing more serious than a badly seated water cap which at speed sprays the engine with water and four of the plug leads are shorting. Clark goes out for a short practice in which every flying lap is a 1'27"0 point something, the quickest being 1'27"2, a speed of 161.8.15 km/h. During these laps he is very nearly clobbered by a local driver who loses it at the hairpin and comes back onto the track still out of control. Jack Brabham is going very well and he records a time of 1'28"3 before he changes to Goodyear tyres for a few laps, which does not prove anything as the tyres are unscrubbed and he does very few laps before practice ends. Team-mate Gurney is persevering with his tyres although it is becoming obvious his times are suffering from this, also before practice ends, his engine goes sick, and it is decided to change this before the afternoon practice. Bandini suddenly slows past the pits, then reverses back to his pit.

Something is not quite right with the fuel feed but the mechanics soon rectify the trouble. Anderson seems to have sorted out his problems and is going quite well. Practice finishes at 8am and is due to start again at 2:00 p.m. which only gives six hours in which to work. B.R.M. decide to change Stewart’s gearbox to the old box on the spare car as the intermediate ratios are better for East London. However, when the mechanics have the gearbox off they find that the clutch is broken and so the car is not ready for the start of the afternoon’s practice. This last session has very bad weather, not rain, but wind. The wind blows in gale force all the afternoon making driving or even watching, very difficult. Cars go out reluctantly and even then not for many laps. Both B.R.M.s improve on their previous times. Clark does a few laps towards the end of practice and is 0.1sec faster than any other car, so keeping the record right by setting the fastest lap in each practice. Gurney appears near the end of practice with his changed engine and improves his time slightly but he is still just over one second slower than Brabham which is the amount B.R.M. proved the tyres would lose. Spence does two laps only to check whether all is well, which is why he has no time in the practice table. Serrurier, Pieterse, Lederle, Nieman, Blokdyke are the slowest over the three practices and therefore are out of the race on New Year’s Day. Race day is calmer, high and overcast, but still very bright, and the road is dry. After some preliminary races for the South African Clubmen the cars are brought out on to the dummy grid. Lotus have found so little to do in the way of pre-race preparation that after only two hours the night before the cars are ready. Brabham are still on different tyres and Gurney has a new steering column, the original one having cracked and another has to be made from steel tubing. With ten minutes to go the cars do a warming-up lap, again forming up on the dummy grid, then with one minute to go they move forward and at 2:30 p.m. the flag falls.
Clark makes his usual brilliant start being a car’s length ahead in the first 100 yards. Spence, who is just behind him on the grid, follows his team leader and as they stream out of sight these two are in the lead. Back past the pits at the end of lap one Clark and Spence are clear of the next cars and already pulling out a lead. Behind come Brabham, McLaren, Surtees and Hill, then Bonnier, Bandini, Stewart, Anderson, Maggs, Rindt, Gurney (it is a long time since Dan has been this far back), Gardner, Siffert, Hawkins, de Klerk, Love, Prophet, and Tingle last. On the next lap, the two Lotuses pull out a few more yards while Surtees pushes past McLaren into fourth place and two laps later he is past Brabham into third place. Further back Maggs moves ahead of Anderson, while Gurney comes into the pits after four laps, dropping several places, he has some obscure electrical trouble which the mechanics are unable to trace. After 45 minutes the engine bursts into life, but it is short-lived as with only eleven completed laps the fault strikes again, and Gurney leaves the car out on the circuit. Also in the pits after only a very few laps is Anderson. He stops on lap 3 for a moment, does one more lap, then comes in to change the brake pipe to the rear brakes. This is replaced, the system quickly bled, but to no avail, the braking being very uneven, and although he continues until the end in last place, he spins several times and is obviously not very happy. By the sixth lap the two Lotuses are well clear of the third man, Surtees, while Brabham and Hill are hanging on to the Ferrari and not letting it get away. Bandini passes Bonnier on lap six and the Walker car slows right down on the next lap, comes into the pits, goes out for two more laps, then comes in again.
The tank strap has broken letting the tank flap loose. This is repaired and Bonnier goes out again in 18th place, where he begins to move up through the field. Another pit stop at this time is LDS Alfa of Sam Tingle. He comes in with low oil pressure which is, however, found to be a faulty gauge, and he continues. For the next 30 laps the first nine places remain very static. Further back Rindt in 13th place runs into difficulty when a wire breaks to the transistor. This is repaired only to break again and finally the car stops out on the circuit when another wire breaks yet again leaving the car without any sparks. John Love who takes over 13th place when Rindt stops, stops out on the circuit at Cocobana corner with a broken half-shaft, his race having stopped after 20 laps. Bandini, who is seventh on lap 33 dropped back one place to Stewart, then makes a pit stop with electrical trouble. By the time this is partially rectified he is back in 14th place and well out of the running. On lap 34 Bonnier makes another pit stop, this time with clutch or gearbox trouble. He continues until lap 42 when he retires finally with the gearbox trouble. The halfway stage is reached with Clark well in the lead. Spence comes next, 13sec behind, then 12sec behind him come Surtees, Brabham and Hill, each about 1sec apart. Next is McLaren who is 20sec behind Hill. These gaps are altered rather suddenly on the next lap when Spence spins on Beacon Bend as he has done three times in practice, which drops him to only 3sec ahead of Surtees. This has the effect of showing the hare to the hound and the Ferrari driver really puts on the pressure to make sure Spence doesn’t get away. On lap 44 Anderson comes into the pits after spinning on Beacon Bend and stays in for some time, then continues, although there is not much he can do to his brakes during the race.

The race continues without much position-changing until Brabham’s engine begins to misfire and Hill moves up into fourth place on lap 53. Brabham continues for four laps, the misfiring getting worse, then he pulls into the pits on lap 55 when it is found that the rectifier to the alternator is faulty so a new battery is fitted which gives enough power to complete the race. When batteries begin to empty the first thing that suffers is the high pressure fuel pump and as the fuel pressure drops so the engine begins to misfire, which is what has been happening to the Brabham just before it stopped. About the same lap that Brabham comes into the pits Maggs stops to have his brakes adjusted and goes out again. Tingle comes in for his second pit-stop, this time for fuel. Then Prophet stops with oil all over the engine from a burst oil pipe. The mechanics change this and there is enough oil still in the car to continue. However, the oil is spattered all around Beacons Bend and as Spence is about to complete his 60th lap in second place he again spins on the same bend whereby Surtees passes him on one side and Hill on the other and this change in order lasts until the end. On lap 60 Gardner comes into the pits with the belt which drives the alternator broken so instead of replacing it he merely has a new battery inserted, which lasts him until the end. On lap 67 the flat-twelve Ferrari finally gives up and is pushed away with an electrical fault, and except for Brabham passing Hawkins just before the end, there is no more drama from a racing point of view. However, the end of the race proves quite interesting. The man with the chequered flag, who is obviously not very experienced, suddenly steps forward and flags Clark one lap from the end. The Lotus driver has just received a pit signal telling him there is one more lap to go, and he therefore waves his arm furiously at the flagman to indicate that he is wrong. A short conflab among the senior officials and no-one else is flagged.


Clark completes the lap at speed but slows at his pit for instructions when Chapman beckons him on to take the chequered flag for the second time. Fortunately, Clark is so far ahead of the next man that there is no chance of him being caught due to slowing, but if he has been caught the officials would have had to sort out a pretty mess. Surtees and Hill cross the line about 30sec, behind with Spence the only other driver not to be lapped 20sec behind them. McLaren finishes one lap down and Stewart gains one point in his first Grande Epreuve and his first drive for B.R.M. The young Scot is to be congratulated on completing an intelligent first outing and these should not be the only points he will gather this year. A disappointing race in some ways-Clark was much too fast for the opposition. Gurney never really showed off the paces of the Goodyear tyres on to which he has attaches his hopes for 1965. The crowd once again did not see a classically fought race and this year there are no mechanical failures to increase the excitement. The next race here on January 1st, 1966 will be the first of the new Formula. This will be a very interesting race from all points of view, so long as the FIA do nothing foolish and remove it from the Championship table because they feel no cars will be ready. The first cars will be ready before the end of this year, and what better date to start the season than the 1st of January? Scotsman Jim Clark returned to victory in the South African Grand Prix, the first round of the Formula One World Drivers' Championship for the year 1965. Clark, who drove the Lotus modified from last season's races, had already been fastest in practice. In the race he raced with his usual tactic: start at the front and put all his effort into it without making many calculations. The car, this time, held up very well to the efforts, and for the rivals there was nothing to do. Clark also improved the lap record on the East London circuit, which he took from 1'29"1 to 1'27"4, averaging 161.461 km/h. In second place was the current World Champion, John Surtees, in an 8-cylinder Ferrari; third was Graham Hill, at the wheel of the B.R.M., and fourth came another Lotus, that of Mike Spencer, the winner's team-mate.


The four drivers dominated the race from the start. The race ran smoothly, without incident, despite a light rain that fell during the last few kilometres. A curious episode occurred on the last lap: the race officials, due to a counting mix-up, lowered the flag one lap early, i.e., when Clark had completed 84 laps while the race was scheduled for 85 laps, or 331.134 kilometres. The Scottish driver continued at a moderate pace believing he was going for a lap of honour. Fortunately, Clark had a more than considerable lead so that he crossed the finish line, this time for real, with a 31-second advantage over the pursuing World Champion.  From the edge of the circuit more than 50.000 spectators watched the Grand Prix, many of whom had been camped for several days on the nearby beach overlooking the Indian Ocean. Every stage of the competition was followed with great enthusiasm. The winner Clark and the new World Champion Surtees were among the most applauded. The temperature was 23 °C, the humidity 70%, and a light breeze mitigated the heat: in the southern hemisphere it is now summer. Clark took advantage of the advantageous starting position that was assured to him by his best placing in practice, as mentioned he started in the lead, and maintained control of the race throughout. In his wake struggled Spencer followed by Surtees and Brabham. The leading four continued in this order until about twenty laps from the end, when Surtees caught up with Spencer, who then finished in fourth position behind Hill. But no one was ever able to disturb Clark, who showed impressive superiority and was in spectacular form. Now the world championship will pause for more than four months: the appointment is in mid-May for the Monaco Grand Prix. In total, there are eleven rounds for the 1965 title.


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