Ken Tyrell remains one of the greatest team managers of all time. He was a former driver, and his experience as a lumber merchant earned him the name 'Chopper'.
With Cooper, Eagle and Honda all withdrawing from the fray, and Brabham building Ford-powered cars for the first time, the championship became virtually a straight fight between Ford and Ferrari, BRM's fortunes being at a fairly low ebb and Matra's own V12 project still being in need of much development. Driver changes too were a new element in the struggle, with new found advertising revenue tempting several stars to new seats. Rindt left Brabham to join Hill at Lotus and was replaced by Ickx, while Surtees made a brief flirtation with the troubled BRM team. Stewart started the season in style at Kyalami for the South African Grand Prix. He led from start to finish to beat his former team-mate, and reigning champion, Hill, into second place.
The Brabham team suffered problems at Kyalami with their large, high-mounted aerofoils and in the next race, at Barcelona's Montjuich Park, the problem came to an ugly head when Hill and Rindt were lucky to survive major accidents directly attributable to the devices. The newly installed Armco barriers - for whose use Jackie Stewart had become a vociferous and much criticised campaigner - earned their keep on that day by keeping the errant Lotuses out of the packed crowds. Stewart himself took a lucky win in the race after early leader Amon again fell victim to his appalling fortune, his Ferrari engine digesting its bearings after 34 laps.
The new, wingless, look was enforced by new regulations coming into force - during practice - at Monaco but it didn't stop Graham Hill from taking his fifth victory at the demanding circuit. Piers Courage enhanced his reputation with a stirring second place in Frank Williams' privately entered Brabham and Siffert brought the Walker Lotus home third. Hill's winning average was 80.18 mph and Stewart confirmed that his sights were on the title by taking fastest lap at 82.67 mph before retiring. The next three races, in Holland, France - at Clermont Ferrand - and Great Britain, saw three clear cut victories for Stewart. After Rindt dropped out, Stewart beat Siffert to the flag in Holland; he led his team-mate Beltoise home to a classic one-two victory in France, averaging 97.71 mph and at Silverstone he drove Beltoise's car, after wrecking his own in a practice accident.
It did not deter him from a running battle with Rindt which was resolved when the new low-mounted wing on Rindt's Lotus came adrift, vindicating the new rules by the absence of spectacular consequences. Rindt eventually finished fourth behind Ickx and McLaren. Four-wheel-drive cars from Lotus and McLaren had very disappointing outings. Ickx scored a classic win for Brabham at the Nurburgring
after hounding Stewart for many laps. His fastest lap on the road to a 108.43 mph victory was 110.13 mph.
Mario Andretti drove one of the works Lotuses, but lasted only as long as the first lap. Stewart clinched the title in an epic slip-streaming battle at Monza in which 0.2 seconds covered the first four finishers. The order was Stewart, Rindt, Beltoise and McLaren. Stewart averaged146.96mph and Beltoise put the lap record over 150mph, to 150.96 mph. Ickx won again in Canada, after a coming together with Stewart in the early stages had eliminated the Scot. Black Jack backed up his young team-mate with a popular second place ahead of Rindt.
Here in the USA Rindt showed that Stewart may not have been the only heir to Clark's crown by scoring the victory that he had threatened for so long. He finished 46.99 seconds ahead of Piers Courage followed two laps later by Surtees, giving the BRM its best result of the season. Graham Hill had a terrible accident in the closing stages of the race, breaking both legs when he was flung from his cart-wheeling Lotus. It was only sheer determination that brought Hill back to the grids for the opening round of 1970. The one race that he missed, Mexico 1969, was a triumph for Hulme over Ickx's Brabham, but the championship was already Stewart's by a clear 26 points from Ickx.
1969 saw a clean sweep by Ford-powered cars, the DFV being used by everyone except BRM, Ferrari and the Matra prototype. Stewart took the Championship for the Ken Tyrrellrun Matra-Ford team. Lotus, Brabham (with the BT26A) and McLaren (with the M7A) all won rounds; in spite of the new wing' and safety regulations' - which demanded fire extinguisher systems and leak proof fuel tanks, and increased the minimum weight limit to allow for them - lap speeds were generally quicker. Interesting from a technical standpoint was the appearance of four-wheel-drive cars from Matra, McLaren, Lotus and Cosworth.
Again, the system was not the sought for panacea. The McLaren M9 made only one race appearance and the Matra MS84 was overshadowed by the conventional car. The Robin Herd designed Cos worth was a strange looking device which never reached fruition. The possible advantages of four-wheel drive could now be reproduced by much simpler, and cheaper, aerodynamic means - without the penalties of extra weight, power losses and unpredictable handling. Even Chapman's four-wheel-drive venture was short lived. The Lotus 63 owed much of its design to the 1968, turbine-powered, Indianapolis car and was a stop gap, pending the introduction of a similarly powered Grand Prix car. The Matra MS84 and the Brabham BT26 were the last tubular-framed cars to appear in Grand Prix racing.