Stand out in the F1 The 1970s had its merit. At that time the top flight was full of great pilots. They were all heroes in the eyes of the public for everything they did on and off the court.
Perhaps the clearest examples are the Niki Lauda, who survived a burning car; or James Hunt, who had a well-earned reputation for enjoying life's pleasures until a few minutes before getting in his car.
There were a lot of teams. Some with a lot of tradition, like Ferrari, BRM, Lotus o McLaren and others who tried to establish themselves as Tyrrell. There were also teams that were owned by former drivers such as Surtees y Hill or even Brabahm, although with a certain Bernie Ecclestone as owner.
It was a Formula 1 very different from the current one. The technical regulations had many more freedoms and that was noticeable in the vehicles, very different from each other. How would it be that he even raced and won a car with six wheels. The vehicle was created by Tyrrell for the 1976 season and became known as Project 34 or P34.
Derek Gardner, its designer, had decided to equip it with four front wheels with 10-inch tires to increase air penetration and thus achieve a smaller frontal area. While in the rear sector it kept the 16-inch ones.
This original solution had a problem since with these small wheels the grip of the front was poor. To improve it was used a complex suspension that achieved that the four wheels were always in contact with the track.
During the winter of '75, the P34 went out to do its first kilometers in absolute secrecy. The team of Ken tyrrell made the wise decision to compare it to him 007, the model they were using at the time.
The performance of the new car was superlative, although some improvements requested by the drivers were made later. Patrick Depailler y Jody scheckter, who could not see the degradation of the front tires.
Thus the fairing was provided with transparent parts so that both could be aware of the wear of the tires, although Tyrrell preferred to say that it was for the public to enjoy the handling of their riders ...
Tyrrell found a great ally in the tire company Goodyear that he agreed to deliver those special 10-inch tires that his new model needed.
The P34 debuted at the Spanish Grand Prix, the third date of the 1976 tournament. Obviously, he was a surprise for his appearance, but also for his performance as Depallier put him third in the standings, although he dropped out of the race due to an accident caused by a brake failure (something that would be a constant in the car). Scheckter, meanwhile, used a 007 with which he was 14th in the timed run and defected due to a loss of oil.
From the second presentation, in Belgium, the P34 became a very competitive vehicle. At Spa, Scheckter was fourth. On the Monte Carlo street map, the South African finished 2nd and his partner 3rd. And in Sweden Tyrrell achieved glory with a double with Scheckter first and Depallier second.. Between the two drivers they achieved 10 podiums and gave Tyrrell third place in the Constructors' Cup. Scheckter also finished third in the tournament.
The Achilles heel of the car was the overheating of the small rubbers and the brakes. Attempts were made to fix these deficiencies with all kinds of developments, but to no avail. These drawbacks aside, Goodyear's decision not to evolve the Tyrrell-exclusive front tires at the same rate as the rear tires, which were the same for all teams, was a determining factor in the future of the P34.
At the end of that tournament the Tyrrell P34 was kept forever in a garageAlthough it served as an inspiration for other teams that built their own six-wheelers, none of them managed to compete. In the 1980s the International Automobile Federation took action on the matter and directly banned the use of cars with more than four wheels.
Despite its short time on the slopes, the Tyrrell P34 has remained alive in popular memory for its innovation. To see something like this in Formula 1 would be impossible and it is a shame because, ultimately, that ingenuity and freedom of creation reflected in the six-wheeler Tyrrell was what led the category to be the most important in the world.