6/9/09

The Tyrrell P34 Formula 1

I remember it was more than 30 years ago i wanted to be a Formula 1 racer because of this car... of course she never worked but she was so cool.
Jody Scheckter, Patrick Depailler, Ronnie Peterson those guys were rad to drive this amazing car



The Tyrrell P34 (Project 34), otherwise known as the 'six-wheeler,' was a Formula One race car designed by Derek Gardner, Tyrrell's chief designer, as a response to new regulations due to come into force in 1976. The car used specially manufactured 10-inch diameter wheels and tyres at the front with two ordinary sized wheels at the back. The idea of the smaller front tyres was to increase air penetration and have a smaller 'frontal area' which would reduce drag.



However, smaller diameter tyres would have resulted in a loss of contact area between the rubber and the tarmac surface of the track and hence poorer mechanical grip for cornering. To remedy this, the P34 was given four 10-inch front wheels. Thanks to a complex suspension design, all four front wheels could be steered.



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 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 tire manufacturer's failure to properly develop the small front tires. The added weight of the front suspension system is also cited as a reason for ending the project. 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 tire company agreed to manufacture bespoke 10-inch tires 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 car has also been seen a number of times at the Goodwood Festival of Speed.