After a dreadful 1981, the “RAM” (Ralph and Macdonald) team running March’s factory F1 effort had lost their main sponsor and had been unable to find another over the off-season so they would arrive at Kyalami with one-off Rizla sponsorship and hope that the experienced Jochen Mass could do well enough in his one-race deal to attract someone else. Filling the second seat was F3 graduate and former McLaren tester Raul Boesel, who also brought some money to the team. If the team could find a sponsor, the ingredients were there to have a better season in ’82 with winter testing showing the 821 chassis to be reliable.
Bavarian Jochen Mass was a veteran of eight Formula One seasons before pitching up at March. He made his debut in 1973 with a couple of appearances for Surtees followed by a full season with the team in 1974. Despite not managing any points (or many finishes), he was picked up by McLaren for the final two races as champion Fittipaldi’s teammate, He went on to partner the Brazilian full time in 1975, during which he won the Spanish Grand Prix, a race overshadowed by Rolf Stommelen’s terrible accident, then had the thankless task of partnering James Hunt in 1976 and 77. After being dropped by McLaren he went to ATS in 1978, then two years at Arrows but sat 1981 out, unable to find employment.
Well-heeled Brazilian Raul Boesel had begun life as a showjumper, winning state championships before heading to university to study engineering. However, he gave up his degree in 1979 to enter the inaugural Brazilian Stock Car Championship, before taking the route to Britain that many young Brazilians inspired by Emerson Fittipaldi did. Formula Ford 1600 and Formula Three followed, and in 1981 he finished third in the F3 championships and got himself a test with McLaren and a full time drive with March, courtesy of his personal sponsors.