After two seasons of tragedy, 1972 was free of incident and Lotus came out of the shadows to score another world title, through Emerson Fittipaldi, who, at 25, was the sport's youngest ever champion. The Brazilian took the championship in style with wins at Jarama, Nivelles (in Belgium), Brands Hatch, the Osterreichring and Monza. He was second at Kyalami and Clermont Ferrand and third in Monaco, to win by a handsome margin. Emerson's nearest rival was Stewart, who won the opening round as the championship returned to the Argentine for the first time in twelve years, plus the French, Canadian and American races.
Denny Hulme won in South Africa, Jacky Ickx won at the Nurburgring
and jean-Pierre Beltoise scored a memorable triumph for BRM at an extremely wet Monaco. Stewart, in taking second place in the championship, revealed some of the pressure of modern racing when he had to miss the Belgian Grand Prix through stomach ulcer problems. Chris Amon looked all set for his first ever win at Clermont Ferrand before a puncture stole his glory. Carlos Reutemann was a new name on the grids and impressed many people with very fast performances in his Brabham, scoring pole position at his first ever Grand Prix, appropriately in his native Argentina. With a new World Champion and a promising new star, the South Americans again had something to shout about in motor racing.
1972 was a hard fought season from which Chapman emerged with his bi-annual championship, the 720 taking five victories to Tyrrell's four. The interlopers in the Lotus/Tyrrell show were Ferrari, McLaren - with the MI9A, featuring rising rate suspension - and BRM. BRM's victory was more a result of Beltoise's brilliance in the wet at Monaco than of the car's competitiveness. March had an innovative but dismally unsuccessful season. Their search for a low polar moment of inertia car led to the 721X, on which Herd mounted the gearbox between the engine and the final drive. Enforced use of Alfa Romeo mechanicals prevented a direct comparison with its competitors.
This 721X was superseded by the 721G, based on the firm's successful F2 design. Also on the scene in 1972 with varying levels of success were the Matra MS 120C, with a very wide and flat chassis and a magnificent engine note, but no luck, and the Tecno, whose flat-rz engine drew obvious comparisons with its Italian compatriot.