1975 South African Grand Prix
- Saturday, March 1, 1975
- Lucky Strike South African Grand Prix
- F1 World Championship
The six-week break between the Brazilian Grand Prix at the end of January and the South African Grand Prix on March 1st provided welcome relief for most Grand Prix teams, giving them time to reflect on their own individual situation after the first two events of the season and enabling several of them either to complete new machinery or try to take some corrective action if they decided their performance had been deficient in any way. Thus there were several new cars to be seen from a number of different teams in addition to a handful of locally-owned machines handled by South African competitors having their annual taste of international competition.
Kyalami has a predominantly friendly atmosphere aided by the unobtrusively autocratic control of Alex Blignaut, himself a former South African Grand Prix competitor and racing car entrant. In years gone by, before the upsurge of motor racing interest in South America which led to the re-establishment of an Argentine Grand Prix and the inauguration of the Brazilian Grand Prix, Kyalami was the starting point of the Formula One season and many of the teams went there for up to a couple of weeks prior to the race for testing purposes. Now South Africa’s major race is the third Grand Prix of the calendar, but it still retains its congenial atmosphere nevertheless. After their disappointing performances in South America, Ken Tyrrell’s team were extremely anxious that things should take an upswing for Kyalami, being as it is home ground for his number one driver Jody Scheckter who hails from East London, Derek Gardner had prepared some detail modifications on a brand new chassis (007/6) including fresh suspension geometry all round, a taller and slimmer airbox and repositioned water radiators in the style of the Parnelli (or as Tyrrell himself remarked “the Lotus 76—heaven forbid!”). Having reverted from inboard to outboard front brakes for South America, Gardner continued this apparent reversal of his development by replacing the torsion bars at the rear of the two Tyrrells with a conventional coil spring/damper arrangement. Depailler used 007/4, repaired after its accident at Interlagos and fitted with the coil springs, while Scheckter’s 007/2 had been fitted with both torsion bars and coil springs for comparative tests and use as the team spare. Completing the Tyrrell line-up in South Africa was 007/1, one sold to Lexington Racing for Ian Scheckter to drive and still in original trim with inboard front brakes and torsion bar rear suspension.
McLaren Racing brought along three M23 cars under the care of Gordon Coppuck, Emerson Fittipaldi using M23/9 and Jochen Mass allocated M23/8, the World Champion’s car having had its wheelbase lengthened even more. Brabham designer Gordon Murray was optimistic that his cars would produce a victory for the second successive year on his home soil, coming as he does from Durban, and the immaculate white Martini-Brabham BT44Bs were in exactly the same trim as they were raced in Brazil by Carlos Pace and Carlos Reutemann. March Engineering arrived with their first F2-based 751 for the plucky Vittorio Brambilla, his old 741 having been passed on to the Italian girl Lella Lombardi who drove an F5000 Lola last year and tried unsuccessfully to qualify for the British Grand Prix in a borrowed Brabham.