In 1972 new regulations were rushed through for Formula One cars mandating deformable structures be fitted to the sides of the vehicles in an attempt to reduce the risk of cars bursting into flames in the event of a side impact. Two sets of regulations were written one for more or less immediate effect in 1972 and a seperate more robust set of deformable structures regulations for 1973.
Towards the end of the 1972 season John Surtees 1973 challenger was the first to appear at the 1972 Italian Grand Prix built to the latest safety regulations. John qualified 19th and retired from what turned out to be his final Grand Prix race after 113 starts over 13 seasons which included six wins and one World Drivers Championship. Tim Schenken qualified 31st in the final race of the 1972 season at Watkins Glen but also retired.
During the off season John Surtees was caught on the hop with the wrong tyre contract after Firestone which had been used by the 1972 Champions Emerson Fittipaldi and Lotus were to quit the sport at the end of 1973 and would not be developing their tyres any further through the 1973 season while their supply contracts to the likes of BRM, Surtees and Williams ran out.
So with little hope of achieving any worth results Surtees ploughed on through the 1973 season. Nominal team leader Mike Hailwood managed a season best qualification of 6th in the 1973 US Grand Prix, using the #04 chassis seen carrying the #23 race number here at Wings and Wheels at Dunsfold Aerodrome, and a best season race finish non points 7th in the 1973 Italian Grand Prix.
Team mate Carlos Pace meanwhile scored a season high 5th in the 1973 Italian Grand Prix and finished 4th in the German Grand Prix and 3rd in the following Austrian Grand Prix as well as taking fastest lap on the way to both points scoring finishes. Carlos finished 11th in the Drivers Championship and Surtees 9th in the 1973 Constructors championship. For 1974 Surtees built two new TS16 cars to be driven by Carlos Pace and Jochen Mass. When sponsorship for the season failed to materialise Carlos found his way into a drive at Brabham.
Mike Hailwood drove a third works car for McLaren in 1974 until an accident at the Nurburgring prematurely ended his career. Jochen Mass would end up taking over the drive at the end of 1974.
The low point for the Surtees team in 1973 came at the British Grand Prix where they had three cars of Hailwood, Pace and Mass all wiped out in the first lap collision at Woodcote Corner that eliminated a six additional vehicles see this linked clip, note that thanks to the new deformable structures no fire’s were started in the accident.