Saturday 14 March 2015

Tyrrell P34 – 6 Wheels at Work

Tyrrell Racing was founded by Englishman Ken Tyrrell, who started in racing during the 1950’s.

 As he moved up the ranks with his racing management up to 1969, when he was in charge of racing for the French company Matra, and gave them their sot after World Championship with Jackie Stewart as his driver.

 For 1970, Tyrrell moved into creating their own Grand Prix cars, working with designer Derek Gardner.

Gardner’s designs were solid and in 1971, his Tyrrell 003 brought Sir Jackie Stewart his 2nd Championship win, and the Constructors Championship to Tyrrell.

The Gardner-designed Tyrrell 006 brought sir Jackie his 3rd (and final) Drivers’ Championship.

By the end of 1975, Tyrrell Racing was looking for an edge on the competition, so Gardner took a very unorthodox approach with the 6-wheeled Tyrrell P34.

My collection of P34 diecast toys

© Paul Chenard 2015 (poster available).

The P34 had 4 custom-designed 10-inch-diameter steerable front tires. It was hoped that the smaller tires tucked behind the front fairing would provide less drag than the regular-sized front tires, and the same time provide a larger contact patch, increasing front grip.

Blueprints of the P34 chassis, suspension, and wheel
© and courtesy of Gene Varnier

In it’s unveiling, it created quite a stir in the Formula 1 world, and in it’s first outing at the 1976 Spanish Grand Prix, it showed to be quite competitive.

By it’s 4th race, Tyrrell driver Jody Scheckter took the win of the Swedish Grand Prix, with teammate Patrick Depailler following closely in 2nd place.

Scheckter on his way to winning the Swedish Grand Prix
Pen&ink and markers on 11"x 8.5" blue archival stock.
© Paul Chenard 2015 (original art available).

Though the season continued with both drivers garnering 2nd place finishes, and fastest laps, they never repeated their win, and Tyrrell racing finished 3rd in the Constructors title.

By 1977, Tyrrell developed the P34B, but by then Goodyear had stopped development of the small-diameter tires, and the P34 never found its previous competitive edge.

For 1978, Tyrrell Racing brought out the more conventional 008, which won one race, the Monaco Grand Prix in the hands of Depailler.

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