• South African Grand Prix

Hulme victory gives McLaren impetus

ESPNF1 Staff
March 4, 1972
Denny Hulme takes the chequered flag © Sutton Images

Denny Hulme won the second round of the season in South Africa to move to the top of the drivers' championship, capitalising on the retirement of leader Jackie Stewart at just over the halfway point of the race.

Hulme's win and Revson's third place emphasised McLaren's as a force Formula One racing that season, their first with Yardley sponsorship.

Stewart, fresh from his win in Argentina, appeared set for another victory when he took pole and established an early lead, despite Hulme beating him into the first corner. Hulme chased Stewart hard, remaining within touching distance of the Tyrrell, with Emerson Fittipaldi close behind.

"After ten laps something seemed to happen at the back of the car and it seemed to lose some of its bite," Stewart said. Baulked by backmarkers as well, Fittipaldi "began to gobble me up" as Hulme struggled with overheating problems.

Fittipaldi, however, had even more issues with backmarkers and when Stewart next looked behind him he saw a white car and assumed it was Hulme. It was, in fact, Mike Hailwood who had smashed the lap record and was within a second of Stewart when his Surtees suffered a bolt sheer and part of his suspension collapsed.

Fittipaldi then resumed his attack and passed Stewart when the Tyrrell's gearbox seized and limped into the pits. But Fittipaldi's Lotus developed handling problems and he started to slow, allowing Hulme back into contention and into the lead.

Fittipaldi held on for second place and Peter Revson's McLaren took third. But he benefitted from the retirement of Chris Amon's Matra, running a strong third until it developed a serious vibration and retired.

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