The Tyrrell team, having lost the collaboration contract with the French Matra at the end of 1969, finds itself one of the main customers of the March for the 1970 championship, but the March 701 built by the English manufacturer is a makeshift solution and the team will be, despite himself, pushed to design his own car, to participate in the 1971 world championship with the new Tyrrell 003.
The project sees the first steps taken through a first phase of study that gives life to the first car of the Scottish manufacturer, the Tyrrell 001. The car, designed by Stewart and Gradner, must absolutely satisfy four characteristics specified by Ken Tyrrel himself:
- The first concerns the goal of minimizing unsprung masses;
- The second involves a reduction of the front section of the single-seater;
- The third is the concentration of the accessories in the central part of the car;
- The fourth and not least, the car must have a high safety index.
The car's design recalls that of its progenitor Matra MS80, which in the hands of the Tyrrell-Stewart duo conquered the world champion during the previous season.
The shape of the frame, with the central flare, is also shaped taking up the Coca-Cola shape already seen on the French manufacturer's car. The distinctive feature of the 001 concerns the front wing, with the hammerhead nose that hides the radiator inlet.
The latter was still in the front position and not split at the sides as on the innovative Lotus 72, while as regards the suspension, a double triangle overlapped both at the front and at the rear by means of coil springs is used.
The car has the famous eight-cylinder DFV built by Cosworth with approximately 490 horsepower, which is combined with a traditional five-speed transmission supplied by the Hewland FG400.
The Tyrrell 003 is in fact an evolution of the Tyrrell 001, sharing its construction philosophy. Various innovative solutions are adopted on chassis 002 and 003, such as the aerodynamic front spoiler and various additional air intakes for engine cooling. In addition, the wheelbase of the car is lengthened by ten centimeters, while the chassis is further tapered, making the car extremely lean.
At the 1971 South African Grand Prix, the first race of the season, Cévert made his debut aboard the Tyrrell 002, while Stewart still drives the 001, given that in the workshop they are still completing the second example of the new car, which will be called 003 and which will not have any difference with the 002 if not the pedal set adapted to the smallest Scottish rider.
Stewart's car is finished for its world championship debut at the second race of the season, the 1971 Spanish Grand Prix, in which the Scotsman wins by beating Jacky Ickx's Ferrari 312 B.
Two weeks before the Montaco Grand Prix, the Scotsman also competes in an out-of-season race at the Silverstone circuit, the BRDC International Trophy, where he wins the first heat and retires immediately after the start of the second due to an off the road, with the car repaired just in time for the race to be held in the principality.
The car is subjected to several modifications during the season, adopting different aerodynamic configurations: born with a flat front wing, it is later equipped according to the circuits with a convex nose inspired by the cars of the world sports championship prototypes, and by different rear wing and wheelbase configurations.
The car proved to be very competitive and reliable right from the start, to the point of being able to win the championship in 1971, the only success of Ken Tyrrell's team in the constructors' championship, even with double the points compared to the English team B.R.M., ranked second.
With the Scottish rider, the Tyrrell 003 conquers six victories in the Grand Prix of Spain, Monaco, France, Great Britain, Germany and Canada, excluding the podium achieved in the opening race in South Africa, as obtained with the 001 chassis. Cevert instead wins the final Grand Prix in Canada, while in Germany and France he wins two second places, and in Italy a third final place.
With a total of 52 points Jackie Stewart wins the drivers 'world championship, while thanks to the contribution of Fraincos Cevert, Tyrrell wins her only constructors' world title, with a total of 73 world championship points.
In 1972 the championship for Cévert with the 002 was disappointing, and the victory of only two races with Stewart in France and Argentina, and the second place in Great Britain with the 003, did not allow Tyrrell to defend the two titles, being beaten from Lotus for only ten points in the constructors' championship.
The Tyrrell 005 will also be used on two occasions during the season, in Canada and the United States, winning both races and scoring a pole position.
Subsequently a third example will be made, the Tyrrell 004; this will be the team's reserve car and will be used by Jackie Stewart in the 1972 Monaco Grand Prix and by Patrick Depailler in the same season in France and the United States. Later Tyrrell 004 will be sold to the private team of Blignaut Team and will participate in the 1973 and 1974 South African Grand Prix with local driver Eddie Keizan. In 1973 it will then be replaced by Tyrrell 006 and finally given to Jakie Sterwart as a tribute, at the end of his glorious career.
The Tyrrell 003 concludes its short history by winning eight victories, two podiums, five pole positions and four fastest laps, triumphing in the drivers and constructors' championship in the 1971 season.