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For the only time in its history, Formula 1 had a posthumous World Champion in 1970. Overwhelming series leader Jochen Rindt died after crashing his Lotus 72 at Parabolica during practice for the Italian Grand Prix. To complete another tragic year, Piers Courage – Rindt’s great friend – died in the Dutch GP and Bruce McLaren was killed testing a Can-Am car at Goodwood.
Rindt scored four successive victories once Lotus had perfected its new 72 model, adding to his earlier last-lap win at Monaco in a Lotus 49C. Although Rindt retired from his home race on the magnificent new Osterreichring, he was still 20 points ahead going to Monza.
Jacky Ickx scored Ferrari’s first win since mid 1968 in Austria and developed into Lotus’s closest challenger as the year progressed by adding two more victories. Ferrari newcomer Clay Regazzoni won at Monza but Rindt’s points score could not be passed when his young replacement at Lotus, Emerson Fittipaldi, won the United States GP in only his fourth start.
March Engineering entered F1 amid much hype and publicity. In addition to works entries, Ken Tyrrell bought a March 701 for Jackie Stewart which he drove to victory in Spain. Meanwhile, in total secrecy, Tyrrell became a constructor in his own right. Stewart qualified the Tyrrell 001 on pole position for its GP debut in Canada.
Ford had been unbeaten in 1969 but faced a sterner challenge this year with Ferrari’s return to form and Pedro Rodriguez’s Yardley-sponsored BRM winning at Spa-Francorchamps.
Three-time World Champion Jack Brabham began the year by winning in South Africa and ended it by retiring from the sport, with designer Ron Tauranac assuming sole ownership of the team. Dunlop tyres also withdrew from F1 at the end of the year.