1962 South African Grand Prix race report: Graham the champion

Heartbreak for Lotus as a failure on Jim Clark's car whilst leading hands the win and the championship to BRM's Graham Hill

Graham Hill, BRM P57.

Hill took the championship with a fourth win of the season

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The 1962 Formula One World Championship season closed with the 9th South African Grand Prix at East London. Although this is the 9th South African Grand Prix, it is the first Championship event in South Africa and the most important International event yet staged in this pleasant country. East London is situated in the south-eastern corner of the vast continent of Africa. The sea front faces south-east, while a little way down the coast lies the circuit on gently sloping ground which runs right down to the Indian Ocean.

The track is over open roads especially closed for the race. It is 3.919 kilometres long and is not over-wide but has adequate room for passing of Formula One cars. The start/finish line is opposite the control tower, on the main straight. This straight is flat and not very long, and is followed by Potters Pass Bend, a level right-hander on to a long downhill with an almost flat-out corner called Rifle Bend. The drivers then brake for a wide-ish hairpin called Cocobana Corner. Here the road flattens out on to Beach Straight, Butts Bend, and on to the esses.

The esses consist of a fairly fast right, two slow lefts, followed by a fast accelerating right on to the back straight. The two slow lefts are taken as one long carve although on the map they look like two corners. The back straight rises to the Beacon Bend hairpin and so on to the main straight The pits lie back from the track and have their own approach road which starts just after the hairpin.

The entry was the best international entry obtained for a South African race, this being due to the open state of the Drivers’ Championship. Lotus had three cars for Clark and Taylor; a new car “monocoque” No. 5 arrived just in time for the race direct from England and was the car Clark eventually drove. As a training car, “Monocoque” No. 4 was fitted with a Lucas fuel-injection V8 Climax. The Lucas pump had been fitted beside the gearbox and out in the open, with an aluminium shield to keep the engine and gearbox heat away. The Lucas injector pump was fed by two Bendix fuel-pumps but since running the weekend before at Durban a third Bendix had been added to try to stop misfiring at maximum speed and power. The third car, which Taylor was to drive, was “monocoque” No. 2, which first appeared at Rouen this year and was in original trim.

BRM also had three cars for Graham Hill and Ginther. The first car for Hill arrived in East London on the same ship as the Lotus. This car was a lighter version of the present 1962 design; only slight alterations had been made. The front track was slightly wider, necessitating larger wishbones, while the front discs were noticeably thicker. Front wheels were now the bolt-on type instead of knock-on. The body was of a thinner gauge, light alloy sheeting, and a little weight had been pared off the gearbox.

Tony Rudd, BRM Team Manager, said the weight-saving should have been about 40lb but in actual fact it only came to 5lb according to the Club’s weighbridge. The spare car for Hill was the one he has raced all year, the only difference being the three large vents cut in the bonnet top behind the radiator to let out the hot air. BRMs found they boiled badly at the Johannesburg race due to the altitude and the fact that the water boiled 10 degrees lower than normal. The third car, for Ginther, also had large air vents but was the car he raced in the US Grand Prix.

A fourth BRM was entered by B Johnstone, but, due to engine trouble at the Durban race the weekend before, he was unable to practise as the spare engines for the team could not be released until after the last practice in case they were needed. The car was the Jack Lewis car as used earlier this year, a 1961 chassis with a works V6 engine. With no practice times, Johnstone was forced to start on the back of the grid.

Tony Maggs in his Cooper Climax

Tony Maggs qualified his Cooper in 6th

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Bowmaker/Lola had two cars for Surtees and Salvadori, the former was in his usual car now fitted with a 6-speed Colotti gearbox, while the second car was raced as before with a 5-speed box. The Cooper Team had two cars for McLaren and Maggs. McLaren’s Climax V8 engine had been fitted with Lucas fuel injection and to improve the cooling a new, larger, radiator had been fitted.

The plan view of this radiator resembled a flatbottomed vee, the sides being the water radiators and the front flat portion the oil radiator. To cover this larger radiator the nose had been opened out, making a very ugly car. Unfortunately, the car kept over-heating and for the race the old nose and radiator were fitted. Maggs’ car was as raced by him earlier this year.

Jack Brabham was entered in the Brabham, the blue and gold car remaining unaltered. Innes Ireland had the pale green UDT-Laystall Lotus-Climax with the 5-speed Colotti box. Also out from Europe was G de Beaufort driving a 4-cylinder Porsche. The car was the ex-Filipinetti vehicle which the Dutch driver had hired for Mexico and finally purchased. On to this car had been put the disc brakes and the 6-speed gearbox from his own old car. Unfortunately for the race there was no time to respray the car and therefore it ran in Italian red instead of Dutch orange.

Of the local drivers who were entered, Li Pieterse was to drive a Lotus 21 with 4-cylinder Mk II Climax engine. This was last year’s works car and was the car Clark drove to gain the lap record in 1961. J Love was entered in the 1961 works Cooper with a Mk II 4-cylinder Climax engine. NA Lederle had a Lotus 21 with Mk. II 4-cylinder Climax engine and 6-speed Colotti gearbox.

The last two cars to race were both powered by linered-up Alfa Romeo Giuliena engines, the first was in LD Serrurier’s LDS Alfa. This car is built in South Africa and is based on a 1960 Cooper design. The other car was a 1960 Cooper now called a Cooper-Alfa and was to be driven by M Harris. In the entry list was G Hocking in RRC Walker’s dark blue V8 Lotus-Climax, but unfortunately he killed himself in this car at the Durban race the weekend before. Eye-witnesses said he was going too fast in a very tricky corner. T Settember was down to drive an Emeryson but he failed to turn up. S Van der Vyver was entered to drive his Lotus-Climax V8 but he had badly damaged it at the Durban race the week before and had been unable to get it repaired in time. SA Tingle was to have driven Hocking’s own car but decided to run in one of the supporting races rather than in the main race.


Godin de Beaufort in his privateer Porsche 718

Godin de Beaufort managed 16th on the grid in his privateer Porsche

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First practice was on Wednesday, Boxing Day. The sun was brilliant and the wind strong and warm, which led to many comments about Boxing Day Brands Hatch. First out were the two BRMs, Hill in his old car and Ginther in his. Hill, completing his first lap was followed by Clark in the fuel-injection car. Salvadori, Serrurier and Surtees went out in quick succession. Some drivers were learning the circuit for the first time and others, like Jimmy Clark, were just remembering. Clark was soon in with the injection car, complaining of fluffing on the straight, which proved that the extra Bendix pump fitted in the hope of curing this was not necessary.

Ginther set the first fast lap at 1min 36.4sec, while Hill came in and changed over to his new light-weight car. After doing only two or three laps he came in again on a dead engine complaining that it had stiffened so he had cut it instead of letting it seize up on him. Almost immediately he was out again in the old car and soon had a time of 1min 33.4sec, which was the best for the first day.

“Clark was asked to look for air bubbles at maximum speed down the straight, which, in his own words, was ‘a little dodgy’”

All was not well in the Lotus pit, however. Clark had been out in the new car and after a few laps coasted in with a dead engine. Something had started to seize up. He wasn’t sure whether it was the engine or gearbox. On the fuel-injection car the Lucas injection pump was being bled every few laps to try to stop the misfiring. Eventually the mechanics cut the fuel pipes, lengthened them so that they were across the car, and Clark was asked to look for air bubbles at maximum speed down the straight, which, in his own words, was “a little dodgy.”

Maggs was circulating slowly in his Cooper, not getting below 1min 39.7sec, which was 1sec slower than Serrurier with the Alfa-engined car. Harris managed to get down to 1min 40.2sec before his bearings went and the car was wheeled away. A number of cars failed to turn up for the first session for various reasons, McLaren’s and Taylor’s cars not being ready for practice and the rest of the drivers hadn’t yet arrived in East London.

The next day’s practice was at the same time in the afternoon and the weather was overcast, and at the end of practice it rained. All drivers except Harris were present. The Alfa engine was the process of being rebuilt. Practice seemed to be starting 20 minutes early but as the cars went out, Surtees leading, it was found that they were required to follow a camera car.

After one lap, Hill pulled in quickly while the rest went on with the filming. No doubt Graham was remembering his incident with a camera at the Nurburgring. This filming with the producers, directors and cameramen rather spoilt the atmosphere at both practice and race day. After all, racing is a serious business without turning it into a film studio, but the Club had sold the rights and the film company was getting its money’s worth.

When practice proper started. McLaren led the way, with Clark, Hill, Taylor and Lederle going out in line ahead. The rest followed very quickly to get as much done in time opening laps as possible, before the rain came. Ginther was scrubbing tyres to start with, while Hill was lapping fast in the “T” car, and it wasn’t long before the old record time of 1min 33sec was broken. The track was more slippery than the day before and after a few laps Taylor spun violently coming out of the esses, and next lap he spun at the hairpin, while de Beaufort also spun at the same time in sympathy, The Lolas were getting in a lot of laps when Surtees came in with the gear-selector in his 6-speed gearbox broken, so that he could only get three gears.

Ginther was sitting in his car in the pits when an electrical fault suddenly sent sparks and smoke pouring from behind his seat. Ginther leapt out and an extinguisher soon had it under control. Innes Ireland was having trouble with his clutch and also jumping out of 3rd gear. Due to the brilliance of the sun, Innes had had his screen blackened over so it was impossible to see through the Perspex.

Innes Ireland (Lotus 24 Climax) leads Jack Brabham (Brabham BT3 Climax) and Trevor Taylor (Lotus 25 Climax).

Ireland heads Brabham and Taylor

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McLaren’s Cooper was overheating and also losing a considerable quantity of water. This was found to be flaking from a cracked water pump. Maggs’ car was going very well and while McLaren’s mechanics sorted out his heating troubles he did a few laps in Maggs’ car. The Lotuses were having slight brake snatch but, even so, Clark, in the fuel-injection car, got under 1min 30sec—the first person to do so. Brabham was lapping fairly fast and seemed to be having a trouble-free ride. Lederle was the fastest of the local entries with a time of 1min 36sec, with Love 0.4sec behind. Practice ended with rain and the cars were taken to the various garages to have their minor or major troubles sorted out.

The last practice was at 6am on Friday morning so that the marshals could go to work in the usual way. The morning was sunny, cool and with very little wind, so times were expected to be faster than on the two previous days. Salvadori, who had done all the practice he wanted, was the only driver absent. A few minutes after practice started everyone was out, all going very fast from the start, which showed how the cross-wind on the straight had slowed them in the first sessions. Hill did a few laps in the car, when the oil pressure dropped, and when the mechanics drained the engine aluminium particles were found in the oil. Taylor pushed his Lotus in with a partially seized engine, so he took out the fuel-injection car in which Clark had already done the fastest time of all in 1min 28.9sec, and before practice ended he had set the third fastest time of 1min 30.9sec.

With his new car in the paddock having the oil pressure sorted out, Hill went out in his old car and recorded a time of 1min 30.2sec. McLaren was still having heating trouble and it was decided before the race to put back the old radiator and nose.

Surtees was having his first proper practice without mechanical trouble and reduced his time to 1min 31.5sec. Harris was again in trouble with his Alfa engine, a roughness having started to affect it again. Pieterse had the top break off the rear damper, so releasing the spring, which flew up on to the top wishbone. Hill was now out again in the new car but, as the engine was still not right, he only did one flying lap at a time. Even so, after several of these short outings, he eventually, got down to 1min 29.6sec—only 0.3sec behind Clark’s time in his race car.

As practice drew to a close, Surtees came in with no brakes, the balance pipe on the right-hand rear brake having split and let out the brake fluid. After practice had finished some swapping of engines took place at the BRM garage. Hill’s engine from the car was put into the new car. Ginther’s engine was given to Johnstone and his car had been fitted with an engine which had been flown out. The radiator on Ginther’s car was larger than that on Hill’s and therefore was running cooler, so the American gave his team-mate his radiator so as to give him a better chance on race day.

Lotus decided not to use the injection car as it was not running satisfactorily, which meant neither Clark nor Taylor could count the fast times they had made in this car. Harris went away to rebuild his Alfa engine again, this time having to grind and reface both crankshaft and flywheel. Surtees’ Lotus had the spare engine fitted as his own was running rough.


Graham Hill (BRM P57) and Jim Clark (Lotus 25 Climax) line up on the front row of the grid for their championship decider.

Graham Hill and Jim Clark line up on the front row of the grid for their championship decider

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Race day was sunny. A strong wind blew across the straight which would keep times down. The crowd, which grew to 90,000, had been turning up all night. By midnight all the best parking places round the circuit were gone and it was reputed that 30,000 people camped the night at the circuit. As the cars were bought out in front of the pits the drivers did a lap on the back of MGs and the crowd swarmed on to the circuit, leaving just enough room for the cars to go through. At one point on the lap of honour they drove through a crowd of Africans who patted them on the back, and not too softly either if the drivers are to be believed.

As 3 o’clock approached the cars were wheeled on to the grid, lining up in pairs with the two contenders for the World Drivers’ and Constructors’ Championships at the front and Bruce Johnstone, with no practice times, at the back. At 3 o’clock precisely the flag dropped and the South African Grand Prix was under way.

“Clark made a brilliant start with no wheelspin, just smooth acceleration. Next to him Graham Hill let in the clutch, spun his wheels and took off in a cloud of rubber smoke”

Clark made a brilliant start with no wheelspin, just smooth acceleration. Next to him Graham Hill let in the clutch, spun his wheels and took off in a cloud of rubber smoke. The field vanished from sight in their grid order down the straight to Cocobana Corner. That is, all the field except Pieterse whose Lotus had refused to start and was being frantically worked on in front of the pits.

At the end of the first lap Clark was already in the lead by almost 1sec from Hill, their first lap times being 1min 40sec and 1min 40.9sec, respectively. Behind the leading two came Maggs, Surtees and McLaren jockeying for position; Ginther came next on his own. Ireland and Brabham were very close together, then the rest were stringing out behind in the following order: Lederle, Love, Taylor, Serrurier, Harris, Salvadori, Johnstone and de Beaufort. The 17th starter, Pieterse, was still in the pits fitting a new battery, the one on the car being flat.

Next lap the lead opened up another second. Clark’s time was now 1min 31.1sec against Hill’s 1min 32.6sec. Taylor passed Lederle and Love on the second lap, so moving into ninth place, behind Ireland and Brabham. De Beaufort passed Johnstone into 15th place, giving a nonchalant wave as he did so. On lap three the leader did his fastest lap at 1min 31sec, while Hill’s time was 1min 32.3sec, increasing his lead by another second.

At this point the two leaders eased back slowly to 1min 33sec and 1min 34sec due to the gusty wind on the main straight. Salvadori, who made a bad start, passed Harris into 13th place on lap two and on into 12th place three laps later. Taylor was right on Brabham’s tail and both of them were pressing Ireland’s Lotus very hard but Innes wasn’t moving over for them and made them work to get past.

The group for third place was trying very hard, passing the pits in a close bunch. Maggs still led but on the fourth lap McLaren passed Surtees on to the tail of his team-mate. The dice for seventh place was getting fierce, the cars trying to corner abreast as well as storm down the straight three abreast. Eventually, after eight laps, Brabham passed Ireland and on the next lap Taylor also passed the pale green car. On this same lap the trio swept past Ginther, whose BRM sounded rough.

The leaders were still the same, Clark pulling out a second a lap, until on lap 10 he had a 10sec lead. For third place there was quite a scrap going on. McLaren had passed Surtees on the fourth lap, but on the 10th lap Surtees got ahead of McLaren and on the next lap he passed Maggs into third place. Salvadori moved up to 12th on lap five, passing Lederle to do it.

Tony Maggs leads Bruce McLaren (both Cooper T60 Climax's) and John Surtees (Lola Mk4 Climax). McLaren and Maggs finished in 2nd and 3rd positions respectively.

Tony Maggs leads Cooper team-mate Bruce McLaren and Lola’s John Surtees.

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On the seventh lap he forced Salvadori way past Love’s Cooper into 11th place. As the leaders completed their seventh lap, Pieterse finally got his Lotus going and joined in well behind the field. On lap nine Johnstone came into the pits complaining of a flat engine and the BRM works mechanics found that his own mechanics had connected two terminals of the Lucas ignition round the wrong way, which gave hopeless retardation. These were reversed and the car went perfectly to the end.

Taylor’s seventh place was short-lived, for on his 12th lap he came to a rest out on the circuit unable to engage any gears. The field began to open out slightly but Surtees was still hanging on to his third place closely pressed by McLaren. Salvadori was continuing his steady progress through the field. The two Alfa-engined cars were lying 12th and 13th when, as he completed his 16th lap, Serrurier made a pit stop to take on water as he had a leaking radiator.

On the 19th lap McLaren made a big effort and as he completed his 20th he had passed Surtees into third place. The Lola was now sandwiched between the two works Coopers. Ginther’s BRM was beginning to sound rougher than ever and due to misfiring and poor pick-up he had spun on two occasions, once in the hairpin and once in the esses. It was therefore not unexpected when he made a pit stop on his 23rd lap to have his oiled-up plugs changed. This lost him five places but with the car running that much better he moved up one place on the 27th lap and another on the 28th lap.

Serrurier’s water leak was more serious than at first anticipated and the LDS Alfa came in for more water on its 25th lap. Surtees was passed by Maggs’ Cooper on the 27th lap and on the next lap the Lola pulled into the pits with a metallic noise coming from the engine. Eric Broadley diagnosed this as a broken tappet or valve so the car was wheeled away.

Ginther’s BRM was beginning to make a little progress and on the 32nd lap he moved ahead of the Alfa-Cooper just before Harris retired with the bearing trouble that had dogged him in practice. For the next six laps there was no change in position or tempo. On the 38th lap Serrurier made another pit stop for water which dropped him to last position behind Pieterse’s Lotus, which was seven laps down on the leaders. Positions remained unaltered and at the half-way stage Clark was leading Hill by 27.2sec, while Hill was 26.1sec ahead of McLaren. The lap times were round about the same. On the 41st lap Clark did 1min 32.7sec, Hill 1min 33.5sec, McLaren 1min 33.9sec, Maggs 1min 34.2sec, and Brabham 1min 33.5sec. On his 46th lap Serrurier made another, now routine, water stop but the order remained unchanged for the next 10 or 12 laps.On the 57th lap Salvadori, who was lying seventh, pulled into the pits, where it was found that he had a split fuel tank, and the car was wheeled away. Both Lolas were now in the dead-car park.

At this point it looked as though Clark would complete the remaining laps to win this last Grand Prix of the year but on the 61st lap Clark went by with blue smoke pouring from the rear of his Lotus. For two laps Clark maintained his speed but on his 64th lap he pulled into the pits as the oil pressure had been surging in the corners on this lap. Colin Chapman and Jim Endruweit looked in all the obvious places for the oil leak and it was some time before they found the small hole in the crankcase hidden behind the heat shields between the exhaust pipes and the back of the engine.

“It looked as though Clark would complete the remaining laps to win this last Grand Prix of the year but on the 61st lap Clark went by with blue smoke pouring from the rear of his Lotus”

At first they didn’t know what was missing from the hole but, when checking with the spare engine, they found it was a bolt approximately 2in long which located the jack shaft bearing that had fallen out and was letting the oil spray out on to the exhaust. Further investigation showed that on the spare engine the locking washer had left a firm impression in the alloy crankcase whereas on Clark’s engine there was no such impression. This proved at least to the Lotus mechanics that no such locking washer had ever been fitted.

With this startling retirement, the crowd were once again brought to their feet. Serrurier made a pit stop for water on his 62nd lap and two laps later retired, out on the circuit, with a dry radiator. As the last laps slipped away the BRM mechanics were keeping their fingers firmly crossed, for though Hill now automatically had the Championship they still wanted their fourth World Championship victory for 1962. As Hill crossed the line the crowds cheered and blew the horns of their cars, for this was a very popular victory.

Graham Hill (BRM P57).

Hill took advantage of Clark’s retirement to claim the championship

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Behind the BRM came the two Coopers, McLaren leading Maggs by half a second, while only 3.1sec behind them came Brabham. These four were the only ones on the same lap. One lap down came Ireland in the UDT-Laystall Lotus, while four laps down came Lederle, the first South African entry, Ginther and Love. Two laps behind them came Johnstone’s BRM and five laps down again came E Pieterse and de Beaufort, the latter having pushed his car for the last mile when the electrics to the fuel pump packed up.

In the confusion that followed on the finishing line de Beaufort crossed the line un-noticed and as it is now not allowed to push a car over the line the Porsche was actually 1.2 laps down on the winner. The scoring in the time-keeper’s box was a little confused, and at the time of going to press the Club had not officially given any placings after the first six. The last five places were worked out by ourselves from an accurate lap chart.

The race was won at 150.586kph and the fastest lap went to Jimmy Clark at a speed of 155.060kph. On his lap of honour, with what must be one of the largest garlands of flowers ever put round a racing driver’s neck, Graham had the misfortune to run over the leg of a fifteen-year-old boy who stepped in front of him to try and take a photograph. As the race finished so the rain that had been building up out over the Indian Ocean started to pour down but even this couldn’t damp the enthusiasm of these sun-tanned spectators, some of whom had driven a thousand miles straight down to the race and were returning home immediately afterwards. One spectator we found had motored from Nairobi, an 8,000-mile round trip.