The 1970 F1 GP season was marred by the death of Jochen Rindt in practice for the Italian Grand Prix at Monza. His death left the sport with its first posthumous World Champion. The 28 year old Austrian was widely regarded as one of the all time great drivers.
A Black Year for Formula One
1970 was a black year for the sport with the championship being awarded posthumously for the first time. The champion who did not live to receive his acclaim was Jochen Rindt
. As well as the death of Rindt the sport was rocked by the loss of Bruce McLaren, killed at Goodwood while testing a Can-Am sports car, and Piers Courage
, who perished in his burning de Tomaso after crashing heavily at Zandvoort. Ickx returned to Ferrari, and the World Champion found himself equipped with one of the new March cars to start the season, while Matra now had their own cars for Beltoise and Henry Pescarolo.
won the season opener in South Africa, with Hill
earning the hardest point of his career for sixth place, in his comeback with the Rob Walker team. Stewart
gave heart to newcomers, March, with a flag-to-flag win in Spain, at Jarama. McLaren was second, a lap down, and Andretti
completed a great day for March with third place; Hill was fourth. Ickx's Ferrari and Oliver's BRM were totally destroyed in a fiery accident from which they were lucky to escape intact.
Monaco will be remembered as a race where Jack Brabham
made one of his rare mistakes to let Rindt, who was hounding him all the way, slip through on the last corner. Pescarolo drove well to bring the new Matra home in third place. Rodriguez brought a smile back to the glum faces from Bourne by giving BRM a rare win at Spa, by just over a second from Amon's March. Beltoise rewarded Matra with another third place at the ultra-fast Belgian circuit, which Amon had lapped at 152.07mph in his chase of Rodriguez, who averaged 149.94mph for the race. Zandvoort saw the debut of a new Lotus, the 72, and like Clark with the 49 Rindt made no mistake at all in winning the race.
It brought him little joy though, his great friend Courage was no longer alive to share it. Stewart gave March another second place from the Ferraris of Ickx and Regazzoni, making a promising debut. Rindt's sequence of mid-season triumphs, at Clermont Ferrand, Brands Hatch and Hockenheim, gave him an unassailable lead in the title race. The British race saw a near replay of the Monaco finish, with Brabham this time running out of fuel almost within sight of the line to let Rindt through. Post race protests over the height of the Lotus's wing were eventually rejected and Jochen celebrated his third successive win.
A new face joined the Lotus team that day, a young Brazilian by the name of Emerson Fittipaldi whose steady drive to eighth place gave little clue to the future that lay ahead of him. Hockenheim saw Rindt's last Grand Prix win, by 0.7 seconds from Ickx's Ferrari after a race long duel. Rindt averaged 123.90 mph and Ickx's consolation was fastest lap at 126.02 mph. Fittipaldi was fourth and a promising French newcomer, Francois Cevert, was seventh in a March. Ickx and Regazzoni gave notice of a Ferrari revival by taking the first two places in Austria, where Rindt lost the chance to win in front of his home crowd due to engine failure. After Rindt's death at Monza during practice, the race was of academic interest.
All the other Lotus entries, works and private, were withdrawn - both out of respect for Rindt and respect for the possibility that a mechanical failure had caused the accident. It was a pity that a fine victory, in his first season, by Regazzoni should have been so overshadowed. The lap speed at Monza was again over 150 mph, Regazzoni turning in one lap at 150.96 mph and the whole distance at 147.07 mph. The authorities began to look seriously at the circuit's future. Victories by Ickx in Canada and Mexico, and by Fittipaldi in America were not enough to wrest the title from Jochen and no one begrudged him his posthumous triumph.
The March drivers had not been without their successes in 1970, with Stewart scoring one win, and at least one of the cars being well placed in most races, but Ken Tyrrell had long wanted more control of his own team and, early in 1970, he had introduced Tyrrell 001. With the latest Tyrrells, Stewart and his new team-mate, Cevert, were to have a remarkable season in 1971. The year got off to a bad start even before the season started, when Ferrari's Italian rising star, Ignazio Giunti, was killed in a sports car race in Argentina. Jean-Pierre Beltoise was rather hastily held by the organisers to be culpable, and lost his licence for much of the year. Ferrari started the season proper on a happier note when their American ex-patriot-Italian, Mario Andretti, scored a sensational first Grand Prix win, by 20.9 seconds from Stewart. Regazzoni with the other Ferrari was third, ahead of Reine Wisell's Lotus.
Having taken a back seat in 1969, Chapman yet again rocked the establishment in 1970 with his type 72. By relocating the radiators at the sides of the cockpit, Chapman was able to give the car a distinctive wedge shaped profile, with low polar moment of inertia and tremendous aerodynamic efficiency. The rest of the car was equally novel; suspension and brakes were both inboard and the suspension medium was torsion bars. Few people could have foreseen the extraordinarily long competitive life that lay ahead of the 72.
The first four races of the season went to four different marques, including Lotus, but the sequence of successes in mid season by Rindt and the 72 were enough to secure the title, even though Rindt was killed in Italy with three rounds remaining. After Rindt's death, the flat-12-engined Ferrari 312B became the car to beat. Only Fittipaldi with the Lotus 72 succeeded. Three new marques appeared in 1970. Amid a blaze of publicity, March entered the arena with both works and privately entered cars. Most significant was Ken Tyrrell's example for World Champion Stewart. Other than its use of aerofoil section side fuel tanks, the March 701 was quite conventional.
Tyrrell himself was already at work on one of the best kept secrets in racing; at the Canadian Grand Prix Tyrrell 001 started from pole position. It was an auspicious debut. Slightly less successful was the Surtees TS7, another offering from a driver turned constructor. For 1971, designer Derek Gardner refined 001 and produced 002 and 003. The car's bulbous aluminum monocoque was designed to keep the fuel load central and the cars were distinguished by wide, shovel noses, designed to give maximum down-thrust. The final form of the nose also improved top speed and stability.
Others were quick to copy but the originators reaped the rewards, with Stewart taking his second championship. One of the tweaks tried on the cars during the season was an ingenious double-disc-brake system, with floating calipers, but its advantages were dubious. March's 711 caused quite a stir, with its aerodynamic, Frank Costin-designed, body. Although the design was very effective in wind tunnel testing, it suffered badly in the turbulent company of other cars.