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1985 South African Grand Prix

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

1985 South African Grand Prix
Race 15 of 16 in the 1985 Formula One World Championship
Kyalami 1961 - 1988 Layout.png
Race details
Date 19 October 1985
Location Kyalami
Transvaal Province, South Africa
Course Permanent racing facility
Course length 4.104 km (2.55 mi)
Distance 75 laps, 308.8 km (191.248 mi)
Weather Dry
Pole position
Driver Williams-Honda
Time 1:02.366
Fastest lap
Driver Finland Keke Rosberg Williams-Honda
Time 1:08.149 on lap 74
First Williams-Honda
Second Williams-Honda
Third McLaren-TAG
Lap leaders

The 1985 South African Grand Prix was a Formula One motor race held on 19 October 1985 at the Kyalami Circuit in South Africa. It was the fifteenth and penultimate round of the 1985 FIA Formula One World Championship, the last World Championship Grand Prix to be held on a Saturday and the last World Championship Grand Prix where laurel wreaths were given to the drivers at the podium.

The race was marked with some teams boycotting the event due to apartheid – the segregation of blacks and whites – and was the last South African Formula One race until apartheid ended in 1992. The race was won by Nigel Mansell in a Williams-Honda, who also took pole position.


The event was boycotted by two teams, Ligier and Renault, owing to mounting international pressures against tolerating the country's system of apartheid. A state of emergency had been declared by the South African government in July due to growing civil unrest nationwide, and French teams Ligier and Renault's boycotts were in lockstep with the French government's boycott and sanctioning of South Africa,[1] apparently doing so under pressure.[2] Most of the Formula One drivers, including Alain Prost, Niki Lauda and Nigel Mansell were personally very much against racing in South Africa, but the drivers held the mentality that because they were contracted to drive at every Grand Prix, they would race at Kyalami.[3]

Some governments tried to keep their drivers from entering the race. Brazil's sanctions on South Africa nearly prevented Nelson Piquet or Ayrton Senna from racing.[4]

Finland and Sweden held similar reservations regarding Finn Keke Rosberg and Swede Stefan Johansson competing.[4] Sweden's National Automobile Federation had announced Johansson could not race in South Africa before the event,[4] but he did race.

Ayrton Senna initially said he would race if Lotus raced. However, he later said he would boycott the race.[5]

Multiple sponsors also ordered teams to remove their branding from cars they backed, most notably Marlboro and Beatrice Foods.

The latter held an equity interest in the single car Haas Lola team. While Alan Jones qualified 18th for that team, his car was not on the starting grid. Officially Jones cited illness as to why he did not race, but it was widely rumored at the time that Beatrice ordered the team to boycott.[3] In 2017, Jones described a meeting with Bernie Ecclestone the night before the race, who suggested that Jones feign illness the next morning and not show up. Ecclestone described how Beatrice were under pressure in the US from activists such as Jesse Jackson not to race, under threats including strike action by African Americans working in their businesses. Only Jones and team management Teddy Mayer and Carl Haas were aware of this plan. Jones said "And so, on the Saturday morning I was gone. I just didn’t turn up. They had the car out ready to go, when they were told, "AJ’s been struck down by a virus and we are not racing"."[6][7]

It was the final South African Grand Prix until apartheid ended, with FISA president Jean-Marie Balestre announcing days after the race that the Grand Prix would not return to the nation for 1986 because of apartheid.[2] Even without the political pressures, this might well have been the final Formula One race held at Kyalami in its then form: FISA had long since deemed that circuits where lap times were under 60 seconds were considered too small for Grand Prix racing and with car speeds increasing all the time, it was reasonable to conclude that lap times from 1986 would be under 60 seconds. Kyalami's pole position time had actually fallen by over 10 seconds since the 1981 race, and Mansell's 1985 pole time of 1:02.366 was over two seconds faster than Nelson Piquet's 1984 pole time of 1:04.871.

The South African Grand Prix would only return in 1992, after apartheid ended, in a new configuration of the Kyalami circuit. Mansell would also win the 1992 race driving a Williams, albeit with a naturally-aspirated Renault engine.[8]



Pole position went to Nigel Mansell, averaging 236.898 km/h (147.201 mph).

Pos No Driver Constructor Q1 Q2 Gap
1 5 United Kingdom Nigel Mansell Williams-Honda 1:03.188 1:02.366
2 7 Brazil Nelson Piquet Brabham-BMW 1:03.844 1:02.490 +0.124
3 6 Finland Keke Rosberg Williams-Honda 1:03.073 1:02.504 +0.138
4 12 Brazil Ayrton Senna Lotus-Renault 1:04.517 1:02.825 +0.459
5 8 Switzerland Marc Surer Brabham-BMW 1:05.411 1:04.088 +1.722
6 11 Italy Elio de Angelis Lotus-Renault 1:04.611 1:04.129 +1.763
7 19 Italy Teo Fabi Toleman-Hart 1:06.083 1:04.215 +1.849
8 1 Austria Niki Lauda McLaren-TAG 1:05.357 1:04.283 +1.917
9 2 France Alain Prost McLaren-TAG 1:05.757 1:04.376 +2.010
10 18 Belgium Thierry Boutsen Arrows-BMW 1:05.079 1:04.518 +2.152
11 17 Austria Gerhard Berger Arrows-BMW 1:06.546 1:04.780 +2.414
12 22 Italy Riccardo Patrese Alfa Romeo 1:06.386 1:04.948 +2.582
13 20 Italy Piercarlo Ghinzani Toleman-Hart 1:07.800 1:05.114 +2.748
14 23 United States Eddie Cheever Alfa Romeo 1:07.159 1:05.260 +2.894
15 27 Italy Michele Alboreto Ferrari 1:05.268 1:05.757 +2.902
16 28 Sweden Stefan Johansson Ferrari 1:05.406 1:05.388 +3.022
17 3 United Kingdom Martin Brundle Tyrrell-Renault 1:06.709 1:05.649 +3.283
18 33 Australia Alan Jones Lola-Hart 1:07.144 1:05.731 +3.365
19 4 France Philippe Streiff Tyrrell-Renault 1:07.935 1:06.205 +3.839
20 29 Italy Pierluigi Martini Minardi-Motori Moderni 1:10.025 1:08.658 +6.292
21 24 Netherlands Huub Rothengatter Osella-Alfa Romeo 1:09.904 1:09.873 +7.507


Pos No Driver Constructor Laps Time/Retired Grid Points
1 5 United Kingdom Nigel Mansell Williams-Honda 75 1:28:22.866 1 9
2 6 Finland Keke Rosberg Williams-Honda 75 + 7.572 3 6
3 2 France Alain Prost McLaren-TAG 74 + 1 Lap 9 4
4 28 Sweden Stefan Johansson Ferrari 74 + 1 Lap 16 3
5 17 Austria Gerhard Berger Arrows-BMW 74 + 1 Lap 11 2
6 18 Belgium Thierry Boutsen Arrows-BMW 74 + 1 Lap 10 1
7 3 United Kingdom Martin Brundle Tyrrell-Renault 73 + 2 Laps 17  
Ret 11 Italy Elio de Angelis Lotus-Renault 52 Engine 6  
Ret 29 Italy Pierluigi Martini Minardi-Motori Moderni 45 Radiator 20  
Ret 1 Austria Niki Lauda McLaren-TAG 37 Turbo 8  
Ret 4 France Philippe Streiff Tyrrell-Renault 16 Accident 19  
Ret 12 Brazil Ayrton Senna Lotus-Renault 8 Engine 4  
Ret 27 Italy Michele Alboreto Ferrari 8 Turbo 15  
Ret 7 Brazil Nelson Piquet Brabham-BMW 6 Engine 2  
Ret 20 Italy Piercarlo Ghinzani Toleman-Hart 4 Engine 13  
Ret 19 Italy Teo Fabi Toleman-Hart 3 Engine 7  
Ret 8 Switzerland Marc Surer Brabham-BMW 3 Engine 5  
Ret 24 Netherlands Huub Rothengatter Osella-Alfa Romeo 1 Electrical 21  
Ret 22 Italy Riccardo Patrese Alfa Romeo 0 Collision 12  
Ret 23 United States Eddie Cheever Alfa Romeo 0 Collision 14  
DNS 33 Australia Alan Jones Lola-Hart Unwell 18  

Championship standings after the race

  • Note: Only the top five positions are included for both sets of standings. Only the best 11 results counted towards the Drivers' Championship. Numbers without parentheses are Championship points; numbers in parentheses are total points scored.


  1. ^ Walker, Rob (February 1986). "Tiger, Tiger". Road & Track. New York, United States: Hachette Filipacchi Médias. 37 (6): 122.
  2. ^ a b Paskman, Ken (24 October 1985). "Auto Racing". The Orlando Sentinel. p. B-2. Retrieved 5 November 2020 – via
  3. ^ a b "1985 South African Grand Prix flashback". 5 February 2008. Retrieved 19 December 2014.
  4. ^ a b c Martin, Gordon (17 September 1985). "The Apartheid Controversy Reaches Formula 1 Racing". San Francisco Chronicle. San Francisco, California, United States: Hearst Communications (Final Edition): 63.
  5. ^ "Injury shelves Lauda". The Gazette. 27 September 1985. p. C-12. Retrieved 5 November 2020 – via
  6. ^ Jones, Clarke. AJ: How Alan Jones Climbed to the Top of Formula One. Penguin Random House Australia.
  7. ^ "Australian F1 legend Alan Jones reveals untold story about his unusual absence from a grand prix". Retrieved 5 August 2017.
  8. ^ "Grand Prix Results: South African GP, 1992". Retrieved 19 December 2014.
  9. ^ "1985 South African Grand Prix". Archived from the original on 18 February 2014. Retrieved 23 December 2015.
  10. ^ a b "South Africa 1985 - Championship • STATS F1". Retrieved 20 March 2019.

Previous race:
1985 European Grand Prix
FIA Formula One World Championship
1985 season
Next race:
1985 Australian Grand Prix
Previous race:
1984 South African Grand Prix
South African Grand Prix Next race:
1992 South African Grand Prix
This page was last edited on 6 September 2021, at 06:23
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