Dominant Jackie Stewart takes his second title
Jackie Stewart earned his second title with a dominant performance for Tyrrell. But once again, the year was tinged with sadness as racing recorded the deaths of two of the fastest and most popular stars on the circuit.
Jack Brabham was missing from the grids, having retired at the end of the previous year after 126 starts and three championships. He settled into life as a team owner, and Graham Hill signed up to drive.
The works March team had endured a poor first season, and the star drivers left. Siffert joined Porsche sports car colleague Rodriguez at BRM, while Amon went to the promising Matra-Simca outfit. The third STP March driver, Mario Andretti, joined Ickx and Regazzoni to become Ferrari's third driver. Early in the year the Italian team lost Ignazio Giunti in a terrible sports car crash in Argentina.
To lead its challenge March signed up Ronnie Peterson, who had done a solid job in a private car the year before. The Swede soon emerged as a leading contender, although he would never actually win a race.
Ferrari drew first blood in South Africa when Andretti scored his maiden triumph, although Hulme had looked set to win for McLaren. Stewart finished second and followed it up with wins in Barcelona and Monte Carlo. Peterson scored a fine second in the latter event.
Stewart struggled at a wet Zandvoort, finishing a disappointing 11th while Ickx won for Ferrari. The French Grand Prix moved to the modern Paul Ricard facility, where Stewart and Cevert scored a fine one-two. Not long afterward BRM star Rodriguez, who had finished second in Holland, was killed in a minor sports car race at the Norisring.
Stewart won again at Silverstone, followed home by Peterson and then, at the Nurburgring, he and Cevert picked up their second one-two; it was a repeat of the Scot's 1969 form. BRM bounced back in fine style with a sensational win for Siffert in Austria and an even more spectacular one for Peter Gethin at Monza.
In Austria few noticed the low-key debut of Niki Lauda in a rented March, while at Monza Amon looked set to finally score his first win in the Matra-Simca - until he accidentally ripped off his visor in the closing laps. He finished sixth.
Stewart's engine had broken in Italy, but he bounced back with a win in Canada, Peterson again coming second. In the finale at Watkins Glen it was the turn of Cevert to score his maiden win, after Stewart slipped back to fifth with tyre troubles. The title had long since been in his pocket, although Peterson was the big find of the year, finishing second in the championship thanks to his consistent results. Cevert, another brilliant youngster, took third.
Lotus had a disappointing year, the marque failing to win a race for the first time since 1960. A lot of effort was wasted with an Indy-derived gas turbine car, which never lived up to expectations. In October tragedy struck again: Siffert was killed when his BRM crashed and caught fire in a non-championship race at Brands Hatch. It was a sad end to the season.