In his first full year as a constructor, Ken Tyrrell gave Jackie Stewart a car that was both quick and reliable. Stewart delivered six wins and the 1971 world title for the team – a dominant performance reminiscent of his fellow Scotsman Jim Clark. Adding to the Tyrrell success, Stewart's charismatic young team-mate Francois Cevert scored his first victory at the final race of the year on the newly extended Watkins Glen circuit.
A strong campaign had been expected from Ferrari, which enjoyed a power advantage over its Ford Cosworth rivals. Race wins did materialise, at the opening Grand Prix in South Africa where Mario Andretti inherited his first victory after Denny Hulme was delayed in the closing laps, and for Jacky Ickx in Holland. But the team failed to sustain a yearlong championship challenge.
Ronnie Peterson ended his second year in the World Championship as runner-up for the works March team. Although he did not win a Grand Prix, he finished second on four occasions and also won the European Formula 2 Trophy for the team.
BRM scored successive victories in late summer: Jo Siffert won in Austria despite a last lap puncture and Peter Gethin was successful in Italy. The latter was the closest Grand Prix of all time with the first five cars separated by just 0.61 seconds. At an average speed of over 150mph it was also the fastest GP for three decades. But tragedy dogged the team as both Siffert and Pedro Rodriguez died while competing outside the championship.
Lotus endured its first year without a win since 1959, despite the previous success of the Lotus 72 and Emerson Fittipaldi’s promise.
Major technical developments included the introduction of slick (untreaded) tyres and airboxes, which boosted power by increasing the air pressure into the engine. In addition, Lotus experimented with the Pratt & Whitney gas turbine engine. The spread of sponsorship saw the British Grand Prix supported by the Wool Marketing Board for the first time. But while slick tyres, airboxes and race sponsorship all proved successful, gas turbines did not catch on.