The Tyrrell 002 was the second car built of the first Tyrrell design of F1 cars. It incorporated several revisions from the 001 prototype, and had a longer monocoque. It was more closely related to the subsequent 003 and 004 cars of the series than the original 001. The car was earmarked for François Cevert, and he drove it for almost two entire seasons.
The 001 car had made its debut in the hands of Jackie Stewart at the 1970 Gold Cup Race at Oulton Park in August. Starting from the back of the field, Stewart carved through the pack and finished the first heat in fifth place, netting the fastest lap along the way. Based on that performance, the team started planning a second chassis, to be ready by the start of the 1971 season. The design was enhanced and improved until construction actually started, immediately after the 1970 Mexican Grand Prix.
001 was designed from the start for a driver of Stewart's stature, but all subsequent cars were built to accommodate taller drivers, including Cevert. This in turn affected the wheelbase and suspension geometry, and with the team switching from Dunlop to Goodyear tires, it was almost like the team was starting over. The first shakedown laps were made just after Christmas of 1970, then the team shipped the car to South Africa, for a long series of tire testing. In the ensuing weeks, the team racked up more than 2,000 km on both 002 and 001, with much information transmitted back to England, where the newer 003 was now under construction.
Both cars received a rebuild of most non-chassis components before the Grand Prix, where the racing world waited to see if the 001's performance in late 1970 was a flash in the pan. Cevert qualified ninth, and after a hesitant start dropped him to 11th, he had climbed up to fifth before bad luck hit. On a very hot day, he was getting insufficient fresh air into the driver's compartment, and sweat dropped into his eyes just before reaching Leeokop bend, before the straight. The crash did a fair amount of damage, but Cevert was mostly unhurt. Stewart went on to finish second, the first time that 001 had completed a race.
The next race was in Spain, at Montjuic, a track that Cevert had never seen before. After shadowing Stewart to get a feel of the place, he qualified 12th, and during the race he made careful progress, but finished just out of the points in 7th, while Stewart won in the new 003 car. At Monaco, mechanical difficulties during the only dry session meant Cevert qualified 15th. In the race, he had a problem with the engine stalling, and on lap 6, one of the stalls put the car into the barrier. At Zandvoort a very wet weekend had him starting the race in 12th. During the very wet race he collided with Galli while trying to lap him. The car was able to continue, but a few laps later the suspension broke as a result of the accident.
The breakthrough performance came in France, where Cevert followed Stewart home for a Tyrrell 1-2. The car had a new full-width nose like the one on 003 at Silverstone, but long pit stop dropped Cevert to 10th place. The team's second 1-2 in three races was achieved at the Nürburgring following another brilliant drive. A broken gearbox while running second ended his race in Austria, but he was part of the five car stampede at the finish at Monza, winding up third, 0.08 seconds behind the winner. Problems with the ignition in the wet kept him back in sixth at Mosport, but he reaped the ultimate prize at Watkins Glen. On a cool day with occasional showers, Cevert was best able to handle the changing conditions, and when Stewart suffered handling problems, Cevert went on to his first victory, which catapulted him to third in the season standings.