The Nürburgring returned to the calendar after a one year hiatus for safety improvements. The Grand Prix had been at Hockenheimring in 1970.
Brabham: The team brought a transmission technician with them, in response to the problems incurred at Silverstone. Tim Schenken's car had a very strange nose, with the old 1969-style opening and a Tyrrell-style full width deflector in place of the front wings.
BRM: Vic Elford was added to the team for this race, in an agreement made before the death of Pedro Rodríguez. Jo Siffert's car had a slightly upgraded engine, and all three cars had reinforced rear wing supports, after the trouble with Siffert's car at Silverstone.
Ferrari: Mario Andretti returned to the team, and the cars were not using the aerodynamic deflectors at the end of the front wings, seen at Silverstone.
Lotus: Reine Wisell was in a brand-new 72D chassis, and the cars now had ventilated disc brakes.
March: The team ran two Alfa Romeo engined cars, due to a shortage of Cosworth engines. Ronnie Peterson's Cosworth car had an airbox, cowls over the radiators and gas-filled shock absorbers.
McLaren: The cars were the same except for some detail changes to Denny Hulme's car. A third entry for Jackie Oliver was scratched, due to a shortage of Cosworth engines.
Jo Bonnier's private M7 McLaren appeared for the first time since South Africa. It had been completely rebuilt with a new monocoque and suspension. This was also the first car ever to appear with the supposedly mandatory red light at the rear of the car.
Surtees: Aside from high airboxes for both cars, they were unchanged from Silverstone. Dieter Questor had contracted to run the TS7 'hire car', but had not been able to raise the money necessary, so he did not drive.
Tyrrell: The cars were unchanged from Silverstone, and the team had the usual 001 as a spare.
The full entry list for the 1971 German Grand Prix is outlined below: