1985 South African Grand Prix
- Saturday, October 19, 1985
- Southern Hotels Grand Prix of South Africa
- F1 World Championship
The fact that the Renault and Ligier teams both made the gesture of missing the 1985 edition of the South African Grand Prix was hardly noticed as 21 cars turned up to contest the penultimate round of the 1985 World Championship series, one of the few major international sporting events left for the South African public to enjoy in the current political climate which has left the country largely ostracised within the international community. We freely admit that Motor Sport is not a political magazine, but we nonetheless note, with a certain degree of wry amusement, that Renault certainly have displayed no such misgivings in recent years and would suggest that the fact that the Regie’s hopeless uncompetitiveness gave it a convenient crutch on which to lean whilst adopting this cynical posturing. It would, perhaps, have carried more credibility if Renault had boycotted the race at a time when they were running competitively, not merely when bidden to jump by the politicians in Paris. It is also ironic that FISA’s President expressed the view that politics and sport should not be permitted to overlap to the latter’s detriment, yet it was the French Government’s intervention which effectively cut across that particular philosophy.
Having addressed ourselves to that aside, it should be recorded that the 1985 South African Grand Prix was an absolutely classic race, fought out beneath sunlit skies and, happily, transmitted to British enthusiasts by the good old Beeb which refused to be cowed into a position of subservience by its European contemporaries who stoically boycotted coverage of the event in quite significant numbers. In that respect, we have to say bad luck to many thousands of European viewers who were deprived of the sight of Nigel Mansell’s Williams-Honda FW10B running for most of the race distance at the head of the field, eventually seeing off his rivals to win his second Grand Prix victory in as many weeks. Truly, it was a memorable occasion.
Regulars in the Formula business regard Kyalami as one of the most challenging and entertaining circuits of all. Situated 5,700 ft above sea level in the rolling veldt near Johannesburg, the track blends a dauntingly fast main straight with a sequence of breathtakingly quick corners which tax cars’ handling and drivers’ nerve to an impressive degree. This year, the battle for pole position was fought out with some ferocity by the two Williams-Honda FW10Bs and Nelson Piquet’s Brabham-BMW, the Brazilian anxious to make it a hat-trick of pole positions at the South African circuit.