During the 1969 season, as it became obvious that Jackie Stewart and the Cosworth DFV-powered Matra MS80 was going to win the world championship, officials at Matra notified Ken Tyrrell that use of their chassis in 1970 and beyond would require usage of the Matra engine. Tyrrell and Stewart both felt that engine was not promising, and looked into alternatives. Publicly, the team contacted the new March company to provide chassis for 1970. But privately, Tyrrell instructed engineer Derek Gardner to start designing a car of their own. When the shortcomings of the March 701 became clear, Tyrrell authorized Gardner to start construction. The project wasn't even revealed to Tyrrell's primary sponsor Elf Aquitaine until a few days before the unveiling, and the gamble had cost Tyrrell over £20,000 out of pocket (although Elf later compensated Tyrrell, and then some).
The car was unveiled to a stunned racing world just before the International Gold Cup race at Oulton Park in August. At that race, Stewart qualified fifth, but elected to start at the back of the grid to reduce the risk of accident. Stewart set the fastest lap, while climbing up to a seventh place finish in the first heat. A cracked piston caused a DNS for the second heat, but the potential was obvious.
Starting with the Italian Grand Prix, Tyrrell entered Stewart at each race twice, one entry with the 001 and with the March, as the rules did not allow for an entry to be switched between different manufacturers. At Monza, 001 suffered a series of minor faults and was parked for the weekend, while Stewart raced the March to a second place finish, his first points in five races. In Canada, Stewart managed a last-minute pole position in 001, and opted to use it in the race, even though his time in the March was only a few tenths slower (his March would never be used again, except for comparison). At the start Stewart took off like being shot out of a cannon, and after 10 laps had a 12 second lead on second qualifier Jacky Ickx (in a Ferrari, which were the dominant cars of the time). His lead climbed close to 20 seconds before lap 33, when Stewart crawled into the pits with a broken front stub axle, while Ickx went on to victory. But the racing world had seen that this was not just a publicity stunt.
At Watkins Glen, Ickx took the pole, with Stewart second. But at the start, Stewart took off just like in Canada. His lead was seven seconds on lap seven, and continued to increase until he backed off slightly, leading by 25 seconds on lap 30. After both Ferraris had made pit stops for various repairs, Stewart found himself a full minute ahead of second place Pedro Rodríguez, close enough to lapping him that he could maintain Rodríguez' pace. But on lap 70, Stewart's engine started to smoke. An oil leak had developed, and it was just a matter of time before the engine broke, which happened on lap 83. Another easy victory lost, but the writing was on the wall for the rest of the field.
It was at this point that several members of the team were sent back to England, to begin construction on an updated chassis 002 (for François Cevert) and 003 (to be Stewart's regular car). Those two chassis would form the backbone of Stewart and Tyrrell dominating the 1971 Formula One Season. Stewart continued to use 001 at Mexico (ran second early, retired after hitting a dog on the track) and in 1971 at South Africa (finished second to Mario Andretti in a Ferrari, 001's only finish), but after that, the car became an infrequently-used spare and test car. There was one last entry at the 1971 United States Grand Prix, when Tyrrell entered it as a third car for Peter Revson. But the clutch broke at the start, a problem probably related to Revson being several inches taller than Stewart, and that 001 was custom built for a driver of Stewart's height.
Complete Formula One ResultsEdit