The 1982 South African Grand Prix was a highly contentious race and it very nearly didn’t take place, the entire field of drivers commandeered a bus and left the circuit in the days leading up to the race, protesting the plans by FISA (The Fédération Internationale du Sport Automobile) to change the terms of the driver’s super licenses so that they would be forced to stay with a team for a minimum of 3 years, they would be banned from criticising FISA and they’d have to disclose all of their personal financial details.

The strike was led by Niki Lauda and Didier Pironi, the two men scored a resounding victory over the FISA management and the race went ahead as planned – much to the relief of the fans around the world. It was also to be Lauda’s first race back after his retirement and he was to line up on the grid in the new McLaren MP4/1 – the first Formula 1 car to make use of a carbon fibre composite monocoque – a design now used in all forms of high-speed open-wheel racing.

All in all, it’s a fascinating little piece of F1 history and is well worth watching – even for a casual fan.

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Ben Branch has had his work featured on CNN, Popular Mechanics, the official Smithsonian Magazine, Road & Track Magazine, the official Pinterest blog, the official eBay Motors blog, BuzzFeed, and many more.

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