Notes on the cars and teams at Kyalami

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Two things really stood out in the pit lane in South Africa, one was the impressive row of Brabham-BMW cars and the other was the smooth and beautifully made monocoques of the new Ferraris. In sharp contrast was the presentation of the new March cars which really scintillated, in black and green, and the down-at-heel appearances of the Autodelta Alfa Romeo. Team Lotus was there in force, with four cars, and the sad little Fittipaldi team had but one car. The pit lane, like South Africa was a scene of contrasts.

Brabham: With Nelson Piquet taking the 1981 World Drivers Championship and staying with the Brabham team, Bernard Ecclestone’s cars took over the numbers 1 and 2. With the Williams team winning the Manufacturers Championship in 1981 I would have preferred to have seen them retain their position at the head of the Formula 1 list, but the ways of FISA and FOCA are not for me to question so for 1982 the two Brabham cars run as number 1 and number 2. It was indeed impressive roam three BT50 Brabhams lined up, all powered by turbocharged 4 cylinder BMW engines and not a BT49 or a Cosworth DFV in sight. One thing about Mr. E is that when he makes a decision to do something he does it in style. The basic design of the BT50 is as we saw briefly last year but all the detail design has been improved, and will no doubt continue to be improved as the conception covers racing miles. Piquet had the very latest car (BT50/3), Patrese had BT50/2 and the original prototype test-car (BT50/1) was the T-car. The 1½-litre 4-cylinder BMW engine has its exhaust system and turbocharger on the left, inside the side-pod and the fuel injection arrangements are on the right, a rectangular collector box feeding the inlet ports. The air intake for the very large compressor is in the side of the left-hand side pod, covered by a gauze filter and before going to the engine the compressed air is passed through a vast intercooler mounted on the left of the cockpit. All three cars were using Hewland gearboxes, even though the original BT50 design was laid down for the slim transverse Weismann gearbox. Suspension was orthodox Gordon Murray, following the principles of the BT49, one advantage the team have got over others using turbo-charged engines is that the engine manufacturer (BMW) has only to worry about the power unit, for the chassis and aerodynamics are all the responsibility of the Brabham team and Gordon Murray’s ability in this department has long been proven. Major sponsorship still comes from the Italian Parmalat food company and the cars are still painted dark blue and white, but a new Brabham badge has been designed incorporating a strange insect-cum-reptile that looks like a cross between a sea-horse, a scorpion and a snake! (No comment).

Tyrrell: Devoid of any inspiration the “wood-yard” team were carrying on with their 1981 design, the 011, with modifications here and there to save a bit of weight and a neater and tidier layout to the rear suspension, which seemed to improve the handling. Michele Alboreto had moved up to the position of team-leader and took number 3, while Tommy “Slim” Borgudd had joined the team as number two driver with racing number 4. The Italian had a new car (011/4) and the Swede had one of last year’s cars (011/1) both of which were painted all-white and the spare car (011/2) was still painted blue. All three had the sponsor’s name in very large letters on each side pod — Tyrrell.

Williams: With the Brabham team moving up to the head of the list the Didcot based team took numbers 5 and 6 in the list. They had three cars on hand, all from last year, but with revised side pod edges conforming to the new allowable regulations. The edges of the pods are now allowed to run close to the ground and have rubbing strips along the bottom, but everything must be rigid. They used to be called “skins” and they used to slide up and down on rollers and last year we had all the hoo-hah over the whole car moving up and down instead of the skirt alone. We are now back to 1980 as far as effectiveness is concerned but sliding skirts are not allowed. Like everyone else the Williams team had thrown away all their hydraulic suspension controls so were back to carrying ballast to come up to the minimum weight limit, which this year has been reduced from 585 kgs. to 580 kgs. A new trick appeared on the Williams cars, and one or two others as well, in the form of a water tank and brake operated pump that squirted water through plastic pipes into the brake disc for cooling purposes. This meant that at the end of the race if the car had to be weighed this tank counted as a fluid container and could be filled up before weighing, as with the oil and engine coolant tanks. One engineer described the system as “disposable ballast” to gain a 5 kgs. advantage.

With Alan Jones retired fromthe game, Reutemann moved up to being team leader and Keijo (Keke) Rosberg joined him as the number two driver. The Argentinian used FW07C/16 and the Finnish driver used FW07C/15, with FW07C/14 as the T-car. On the engineering front Frank Dernie has now taken over from Patrick Head at the circuits, while Head concentrates on work back at base and on new designs. At the end of last season Leyland Vehicles ended their sponsorship association with the Williams team and their place on the side pods and the financial difference has been taken by one of the regular Saudi Arabian sponsors, Techniques d’Avant Garde (TAG), while Sandia Airlines still hold the prime position on the rear aerofoil.

McLaren: McLaren International had a trump card in their hand in the form of Niki Lauda returning to the scene. Last year’s very tidy MP4 design by John Barnard had been brought into line with this year’s construction rules as regards space and stiffness around the footwell in the monocoque. A brand new can was given to John Watson, as team-leader, (MP4/5) and these speared designs are referred to as MP4B. Lauda had the last of the 1981 cars (MP4/4) and MP4/2 was the T-car. The successful and proven carbon-fibre monocoque is still used and the cars carried the name of the USA suppliers which is Hercules. Marlboro and Unipart still take the bulk of the advertising space. While one speaks of “last year’s car” there is probably very little left of the 1981 can apart from the monocoque as all usable bits are changed during a winter rebuild and modification.

ATS: Gunther Schmidt’s English-based team had an entirely new look about it, blossoming out into a two-car team with drivers Eliseo Salazar from Chile and Manfred Winkelhock from Germany, both drivers bringing much-needed sponsorship money with them. From Germany came Liqui-Moly and from Chile came Copec, which is a petroleum distribution company in Salazar’s home country. The team is now managed by Peter Collins, who was with Lotus last year, and the cars are smartly turned out in yellow and white, looking a bit like the Renaults at a quick glance. The cars carry on from last year with detail improvements and changes to match new regulations and are referred titan D6 models. Salazar had a brand new car, while Winkelhock had a revised 1981 car. They were both running on Avon tyres.

Lotus: The drivers for this season arc unchanged, with Elio de Angelis still number 11 and Nigel Mansell number 12. They each had two cars at their disposal, one a B-version of last year’s Type 87 and the other a straight Type 87. The B-version only involved detail changes, such as wider side-pods, altered weight distribution occasioned by a longer spacer between engine and gearbox, also giving a longer wheelbase, and radiators mounted horizontally with top exits instead of vertically with side exits. The spare cars were as raced last year. Elio de Angelis had 87B/3 and 87/4 and Mansell had 87B/5 and 87/2. With John Player cigarettes as the sole sponsor the cars were black and gold, the neat looking colour scheme unspoilt by silver patches for ESSEX as they were last year. Peter Warr has returned to Lotus as team-manager.

Ensign: Morris Nunn’s small team were still using MN15 after a complete going-through during the winter and the colour scheme is changed to red and white. The Colombian driver Roberto Guerrero has joined the team with some money from Colombian Coffee.

Renault: No startling changes in the Renault team and anyone who studied their progress last year could see that none were needed. The RE30 design was proving itself to be a strong challenger under all conditions, from fast circuits to slow ones, and by a long process of juggling with all the variables they had overcome inherent problems with their turbo-charger layout. The 1981 cars underwent a total revision during the winter with weight-saving as high priority, while improved aerodynamics were also well to the lure. Engine power from the twin-turbocharged V6 has never been lacking and during the winter much development work was done to improve reliability at a continuous output of 550 b.h.p. From a distance you might think the Renaults were unchanged, but they were virtually all-new built up around the bones of the 1981 cars. The 1982 version is now referred to as the RE30B, the RE standing for the Renault-Elf as the French petroleum company is still 100%, behind the Renault Formula 1 programme. The drivers are still Rene Arnoux and Alain Prost and the only change on the Renault scene is that French journalist Eric Bhat has taken over the team’s PR work from Marie-Claude Beaumont, who has moved up into higher circles within the Regie-Renault. Last year the cars were designated RE33, RE34, RE35 etc and Motor Sport will be following this style for 1982. Rene Arnoux has RE35B and Alain Prost had a brand new car RE368, while the spare car was unchanged from 1981 and was RE34.

March: The March cars designed by Adrian Reynard are still run by John McDonald’s RAM Racing team and the two new cars in South Africa were logical developments of the 1981 cars that made such good progress during the season. In conformity with March numbering these new cars were 821 models, being numbers 7 and 8 in the rejuvenated Formula I series. Attention has been paid to all the usual things like weight of components, stiffness of chassis, and aerodynamics and McDonald has joined the ranks of Pirelli on the tyre front. Two new drivers have been engaged, one being the young and promising F3 driver Raul Boesel from Brazil and his tram-mate is “old-hand” Jochen Mass from Germany.

Fittipaldi: Emerson Fittipaldi’s small team still look a bit shaky financially and only entered one car for Brazilian driver Franceso “Chico” Serra, this car being one of the 1981 cars brought up-to-date to the latest regulations.

Alfa Romeo: The Autodelta seemed to be in a bit of a quandary for their new turbo-charged V8 engine is under development, a new chassis has been constructed for it and neither project was yet raceworthy so they had to use last year’s cars. With new projects nearing fruition there was little point in wasting time on last year’s obsolete cars and the pair of 179 models that Bruno Giacomelli and new boy Andrea de Cesaris were using looked if they hadn’t even been cleaned since last season. Hidden away in the garage behind the pits was a new carbon-fibre monocoque car but the covers were never taken off it. With Mario Andretti gone from the team and Carlo Chiti no longer in attendance the whole team gave the impression of a ship without a rudder.

Talbot-Matra: Guy Ligier’s Talbot team were looking as smart as ever and the V12 Matra engines were sounding sharp enough, but like the Cosworth engines were suffering power loss at Kyalami’s altitude. It is still essentially a team for Jacques Laffite and Jean-Pierre Jabouille and looking a bit out of place in the midst of this family affair was the new number two driver Eddie Cheever. Poor Jabouille was still having to walk on crutches, but was cheerful enough as he went about the business of running the team. Like the Alfa Romeo team they haves new turbo-charged engine in the offing coming from George Martin, the Matra designer, so could do little more than mark time with the JS17 cars from last year.

Ferrari: Over the winter much was expected of the new monocoque chassis being designed by ingenerie ‘arvey Postlethwaite at Maranello and we were not disappointed, nor were regular drivers Gilles Villeneuve and Didier Pironi. Designated the F1-126C2 the new Ferrari was a joy to look at, the sleek monocoque was a work of art and the smooth bodywork that covered it showed that the Ferrari engineers were paying attention to air-flow. The monocoque is made from aluminium honeycomb material, bonded together, with carbon-fibre bulkheads and to see a Ferrari without a pop-rivet or weld in sight was quite something. While Postlethwaite had been doing the monocoque other Ferrari engineers had come up with a revised gearbox that was neater and smaller than on the 1981 cars and the engine men had continued development on the twin-turbo V6 engine. In the garage, but not used, was one of last year’s cars (049B) fitted with the 1982 bodywork and during testing it was given a run with all the aerodynamics trimmed out, to see how fast it would go, and it clocked something in the order of 207-209 m.p.h. down the hill after the pits. The turbocharged Renaults and the turbocharged Brabham-BMWs were clocking 203-205 m.p.h. in race trim. The first C2 Ferrari was 126C2/055, which Villeneuve drove and which had been used for testing, and 126C/056 was brand new for Pironi. Apart from the new cars the only major change within the team, and an important one, was the switch from Michelin tyres to Goodyear tyres. Last year Ferrari felt that Michelin were paying too much attention to the Renault team and he was not getting the technical progress he wanted. This was the story about Goodyear before he switched to Michelin: the American firm was doing its development with the Cosworth powered teams. How long before we hear the same bleating again, that Goodyear are paying too much attention to the Williams team and not enough to Ferrari? One hopes that eventually Pirelli will be confident enough of their Formula 1 tyres to come to terms with Ferrari and then perhaps he will be happy. Or will he? For a first appearance the 1982 cars look more than promising.

Arrows: In pre-race testing the Arrows team suffered a major setback when their new car, the A4, broke and pitched Marc Surer into the barriers, inflicting severe ankle damage to the unfortunate Swiss driver. Jack Oliver called in Patrick Tambay to take his place, but after the driver’s strike Tambay opted out of the offer and Brian Henton took his place. The second car was driven by Italian Formula 3 driver Mauro Baldi, in order to keep the team’s Italian sponsors happy. Both drivers had 1982 models, which is a logical development from the 1981 cars with no really startling or innovative features.

Osella: The Italian team of Enzo Osella had arrived early with three cars, one of them brand new, which was earmarked for Jean-Pierre Jarier. They were the C-design which had appeared at Monza at the end of last season and the prototype car was being driven by new-boy Riccardo Paletti. In pre-race testing he had a monumental accident which more or less cut the car in two, but he escaped unhurt and took over the second of the C-series cars. For this season the design has higher sides to the monocoque to aid stiffness and a different layout to the rear suspension to provide better exists for the under-car air. They have switched from Michelin to Pirelli tyres.

Theodore: Teddy Yip’s private team had not intended to take part in the South African event as their new car was not ready and there was no point in modifying last year’s car. However, if you commit yourself to the World Championship series you commit yourself to doing all the races, and if you don’t turn up you get “leant on” by FOCA, so they turned up with what was ostensibly TY/03 from last season. Looking a little out of place was Derck Daly in the driving seat, his progress being backwards instead of forwards, Tyrrell, March, Theodore. Irish progression!

Toleman-Hart: Although one car was new, it was to the same design as the 1981 cars, apart from detail work and Derek Warwick in his new role as tram-leader had this car. The second one was a 1981 car revised slightly in an experimental fashion, and was driven by little Teo Fabi from Italy, who looked as though he was not sure where he ought to be, but someone had told him to report to Alex Hawkridge, which is about what the sponsors Candy had done. Brian Hart’s latest fixed-head (testa-fissa) 4-cylinder engine was now standing 30 lb. of boost and whereas the Toleman used to be a match for a mediocre Cosworth it would now seem to be more than a match for an averagely good Cosworth V8. — D.S.J.