John Surtees moved into Formula 1 in 1970, with cars constructed by Team Surtees Racing and Development (TSR&D), and run in F1 by Team Surtees. TSR&D was originally called Lola Racing, and although always a Surtees-owned company, had been a joint venture with Eric Broadley's Lola to run cars in Formula 2. In 1969, James Garner's motor racing team, AIR, sought Surtees help to build cars for the SCCA's Formula A, and Surtees put Garner together with freelance designer Len Terry, who had a car on the drawing board originally intended for Roger Nathan. Terry took on the construction of these cars at his base in Surrey, where the BRM P126s had been built a year earlier, and the first two were shipped out for testing at Riverside, which went particularly badly. Garner returned the cars and Surtees then took over the project, the cars becoming TS5s and then Surtees TS5s, and racing with significant success in the US series and in the UK. After the first five cars were built by Terry, production was continued at TSR&D's base at Slough, and then at a new factory at Edenbridge in Kent.
At the end of 1969, Surtees' F1 career was at a crossroads, as the reorganisation that he had forced through at BRM had not resulted in significant immediate success. Unconvinced by Louis Stanley's plans to change the team further in 1970, Surtees left BRM and started work on a new F1 of his own for 1970. His first step was to buy the McLaren M7C from Bruce McLaren, and this was developed during the spring. The F1 Surtees TS7 project started as a development of the TS5, with a new front end and new rear end of John Surtees' design, but after the F5000 development car was damaged, a new monocoque was fabricated for the TS7 which was a significant evolution of Terry's ideas.
The well-engineered Surtees TS7 was immediately competitive, and in only its fourth race John Surtees won the Oulton Park Gold Cup, although against a particularly small field. Two new models were introduced for 1971, the Formula 5000 Surtees TS8 and the F1 Surtees TS9. Surtees joined forces with Rob Walker to run one TS9 in Brooke Bond Oxo livery and Rolf Stommelen joined the team to drive a second car supported by Eifelland. John Surtees repeated his victory in the 1971 Gold Cup that year before retiring from racing. Team Surtees expanded to three cars for 1972, with Mike Hailwood and Tim Schenken in the blue Rob Walker Surtees TS9Bs cars joined by by Andrea de Adamich in a red Ceramica Pagnossin car, but the only success of note was Hailwood's second place at the Italian GP. However, Surtees had a very good season in other categories, with Hailwood taking the Formula 2 title in the Surtees TS10, and Gijs van Lennep winning the British F5000 title in the Surtees TS11. The Surtees TS14 was introduced for F1 in 1973, the blue Brooke Bond Oxo Rob Walker cars being driven by Hailwood and Carlos Pace, but results remained uninspiring, punctuated only by Pace's third place in Austria.
Hailwood moved to McLaren for 1974, and was replaced by Jochen Mass, with major new sponsor Bang & Olufsen also arriving. However, John Surtees fell out with the key sponsor over a F2 program for his son, and the money was withdrawn, the whole sorry mess ending up in the courts. Mass and Pace both walked out and the team ended the season rarely qualifying for a race. The F2 operation was wound up, ending Surtees' involvement in production racing cars. Matchbox sponsorship was arranged for F1 in 1975, and new driver John Watson helped a one-car Team Surtees recover some of its reputation. The completely new Surtees TS19 for 1976 proved effective, and Team Surtees expanded back to a two-car operation, with BS Fabrications also running a third customer car, but even with Alan Jones as a driver and Durex as a high-profile sponsor, not once that year did a Surtees qualify in the top ten. Vittorio Brambilla led the team for 1977, but the TS19s were overdue for replacement, and when the TS20 belatedly appeared in 1978, it was really too late. A move down to the British F1 series in 1979 only delayed the inevitable. The vry last official Surtees works entry was at Silverstone in October 1979 and resulted in a victory for Gordon Smiley in the ground-effect Surtees TS20+, the team's first for over eight years.