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|Constructor||Tyrrell Racing Organisation|
|Suspension (front)||Double wishbone, coil springs over dampers, anti-roll bar|
|Suspension (rear)||Double wishbone, radius arms, coil springs over dampers, anti-roll bar|
|Wheelbase||2,453 mm (96.6 in)|
|Engine||Ford-Cosworth DFV, 2,993 cc (182.6 cu in), 90º V8, NA, mid-engine, longitudinally mounted|
|Transmission||Hewland FG400 Sequential manual transmission, ZF differential|
|Notable entrants||Elf Team Tyrrell|
|Debut||1976 Spanish Grand Prix|
|n.b. Unless otherwise stated, all data refer to
Formula One World Championship Grands Prix only.
The car used four specially manufactured 10-inch-diameter (254 mm) wheels and tyres at the front, with two ordinary-sized wheels at the back. The six-wheel design reduced the drag which would have been caused by two larger front wheels, increased the total contact patch of the front tyres and created a greater swept area for the brake discs.
When unveiled, the cover was peeled away from the back forward and the collective gasps from the world's press said it all. Along with the Brabham BT46B "fancar" developed in 1978, the six-wheeled Tyrrell was one of the two most radical entries ever to succeed in Formula One (F1) competition, and has specifically been called the most recognizable design in the history of world motorsports.
It first ran in the Spanish GP in 1976, and proved to be very competitive. Both Jody Scheckter and Patrick Depailler were able to produce solid results with the car, but while Depailler praised the car continually, Scheckter realised it would only be temporarily competitive. The special Goodyear tyres were not being developed enough by the end of the season.
The P34's golden moment came in the Swedish Grand Prix. Scheckter and Depailler finished first and second, and to date Scheckter is the only driver ever to win a race in a six-wheeled car. He left the team at the end of the season, insisting that the six-wheeler was "a piece of junk!"
For 1977, Scheckter was replaced by the Swede Ronnie Peterson, and the P34 was redesigned around cleaner aerodynamics. The P34B was wider and heavier than before, and, although Peterson was able to string some promising results from the P34B, as was Depailler, it was clear the car was not as good as before, mostly due to the tyre manufacturer's failure to properly develop the small front tyres. The added weight of the front suspension system is also cited as a reason for ending the project. Tyrrell even tried a "wide track" P34B to improve its handling, but this put the front wheels out from behind the nose fairings and reduced the aerodynamic gains from having four small front wheels. Thus, the P34 was abandoned for 1978, and a truly remarkable chapter in F1 history was over.
More recently the P34 has been a popular sight at historic racing events, proving competitive once more. This was made possible when the Avon tyre company agreed to manufacture bespoke 10-inch tyres for Simon Bull, the owner of chassis No. 6. In 1999 and 2000 the resurrected P34 competed at a number of British and European circuits as an entrant in the FIA Thoroughbred Grand Prix series. Driven by Martin Stretton, the car won the TGP series outright in 2000, the sister car repeating that success in 2008 in the hands of Mauro Pane; this example is today part of a private collection in Italy. Stretton also achieved numerous pole positions and class wins at the Grand Prix Historique de Monaco. The P34 has also been seen a number of times at the Goodwood Festival of Speed.
Other six-wheeled Formula One cars
While the Tyrrell P34 is the most widely known six-wheeled F1 car, it was not the only one. The March Engineering, Williams and Scuderia Ferrari teams also built experimental six-wheeled F1 chassis, however all of these had four wheels at the back rather than at the front like the P34. The Williams FW07D and FW08B, and the March 2-4-0, had tandem rear wheels, which reduced drag by using the smaller front wheels and tyres in place of the typical larger rear wheels. The Ferrari 312T6 featured the four rear wheels on a single axle. This was similar to how Auto Union increased traction with its Type-D Grand Prix cars in the 1930s. Despite extensive testing, neither the March, Williams, nor the Ferrari, were ever raced. In 1983 the FIA prohibited cars with four driven wheels from competing. Later, the Formula 1 regulations required four as the maximum number of wheels allowed.
Tyrrell P34 at Tamiya's headquarters.
Complete Formula One World Championship results
(key) (results in bold indicate pole position; results in italics indicate fastest lap)
|1976||Elf Team Tyrrell||Cosworth DFV
|1977||Elf Team Tyrrell||Cosworth DFV
|Problems playing this file? See media help.|
- , (2003). "Covini's six wheeled sportscar; Tyrrell P34 (inspiration)". Gizmag. Retrieved 2008-12-13.
- Medland, Chris. "The winning 'piece of junk'". ESPN. Retrieved 13 March 2013.
3. Aversa, P. 2013. Case Study: Innovation needs supplier support. Financial Times: 12.
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