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1984 South African Grand Prix

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Date  7 April 1984
Course length  4.104 km (2.55 mi)
1984 South African Grand Prix
Official name  XVIII National Panasonic Grand Prix of South Africa
Location  Kyalami Gauteng, South Africa
Course  Permanent racing facility
Distance  75 laps, 308.8 km (191.248 mi)

The 1984 South African Grand Prix was a Formula One motor race held at Kyalami on 7 April 1984. It was the second round of the 1984 Formula One season.



Nelson Piquet confirmed what most already knew, that the combination of himself and the Gordon Murray designed Brabham-BMW was the fastest when he took pole position. On the long front straight, the Brabhams were easily the fastest clocking 325 km/h (202 mph), compared to the 2nd placed Williams-Honda of Keke Rosberg who topped out at just 310 km/h (193 mph) and the McLarens at 305 km/h (190 mph). The top 5 drivers on the grid were covered by less than half a second.

Ferrari were in trouble during qualifying. Both Michele Alboreto and RenĂ© Arnoux were forced to run a lot of wing on their cars due to a lack of grip and aerodynamics that saw the 126C4's want to lift at high speed. The amount of wing they were forced to run just to keep the scarlet cars on the road limited them to just 300 km/h (186 mph) on the straights.


In the race morning warm up session, Piercarlo Ghinzani suffered minor burns in a big accident when he crashed his full of fuel Osella in the fast left hand Jukskei Sweep. The car erupted in flames and was virtually destroyed. Although Ghinzani was ok other than some burns on his hands, wisely he withdrew from the race.

Ghinzani's crash actually helped McLaren. Just before the crash, Niki Lauda suffered ignition failure in his McLaren's TAG-Porsche engine. The extra time it took for the Osella to be removed and the track cleaned saw to it that McLaren were able to fix Lauda's problem. This was a lucky break for team mate Alain Prost who's car suffered fuel pump failure on the warm up lap. With Lauda able to drive his own car, that gave Prost the spare for the race which he started from pit lane. Had there not been extra time to fix his car, Lauda would have raced the spare MP4/2 and Prost would have been a spectator.

Rosberg won the start while Piquet almost stalled on the grid and was passed by about 6 cars, though such was the speed of the Brabham that by the time they got to Crowthorne Corner he was back in second place. It mattered little though as both Piquet and team mate Teo Fabi would suffer turbo failure in what would become a recurring nightmare for Brabham in the first half of the season.

From there, Lauda controlled the race and went on to win easily with Prost in a great drive after starting from pit lane being the only other driver to finish on the lead lap, though he was almost a lap behind his team mate at the chequered flag. What other teams had feared after Brazil was starting to come true, that the McLarens could lap faster than anyone else on the allowed fuel limit and still finish the race. Derek Warwick gained his first Formula One podium by finishing 3rd in his Renault RE50 while rounding out the points were Riccardo Patrese (Alfa Romeo), Andrea de Cesaris (Ligier-Renault), and gaining his first ever World Championship point, Ayrton Senna who finished 6th (3 laps behind Lauda) in his Toleman-Hart.

Lap Leaders

  • Keke Rosberg 1 (1), Nelson Piquet 19 (2-20), Niki Lauda 55 (21-75)
  • Championship standings after the race

  • Note: Only the top five positions are included for both sets of standings. Points accurate at final declaration of results. Tyrrell and its drivers were subsequently disqualified from 1984 results and their points reallocated.
  • References

    1984 South African Grand Prix Wikipedia