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Tyrrell with P34

Tyrrell examining the P34 prototype

ScheckterJody1976-07-31Tyrrell-FordP34

Scheckter at the 76 German GP. Note the "portholes" so the drivers could see the wheels.

Tyrrell P34 2008 Silverstone Classic

A 1977 P34B at a classic meeting in 2008

The Tyrrell P34 was a Formula One car developed by Tyrrell Racing Organisation in 1976. It was notable for having six wheels, including four small front wheels that were all used for steering. The "P34" designation stood for "Project 34", or the 34th set of plans created by Tyrrell's design team, which included everything from new cars to revised aerodynamics and updated suspension designs.

HistoryEdit

ConceptEdit

Tyrrell designer Derek Gardner had long been searching for a solution to the aerodynamic drag generated by the tires on Formula One cars. From the large full-width nose used by the 'series 1' cars (001-004), to the smaller nose with higher fairings in front of the wheels in the 'series 2' (005-006), and then with the high fairings mounted on the wide front wings of the 007, every development had that goal in mind. He finally wondered how could someone bring the wheels entirely within the bodywork. Each solution resulted in massive understeer, until he doubled the number of front wheels. And the concept of the six-wheeled car was born.

DevelopmentEdit

In early 1975, Gardner first showed Ken Tyrrell some preliminary drawings. At first Tyrrell thought it some sort of prank, until Gardner's lengthy discussion of suspension geometry convinced him. The design was simple enough in that only the front two wheels were attached to the steering column, and the second wheels pivoted by use of a bell crank. The team experimented with variable cranks, so that at tracks like Monaco the wheels could turn at differing angles, but this proved to be cumbersome and unnecessary.

The guinea pig for the four front wheel concept was actually the oldest 007 chassis that the team still owned, with extra suspension points welded onto the body. The car in this form was not competitive, but it did show that the concept was viable. A full prototype was built, and this was shown to the world on September 22, 1975. The car was covered by a tarp, with a wire frame underneath, to give the initial appearance of a normal design until the tarp was lifted. Testing began during a gap in the schedule a couple of weeks later, and enough data was soon gathered to start building cars for competition. One issue had been with Goodyear, as they would be required to manufacture specially sized racing tires for just this one car. Tyrrell was able to convince them that the publicity would make the effort worthwhile.

Other issues that never affected other teams had to be dealt with. The team thought that shock absorbers would have to be made to a custom size, until they discovered that heavy duty motorcycle shocks worked perfectly. While the car had a noticeable advantage in braking, getting adequate cooling air to the four front disc brakes was a constant struggle, and what worked at one circuit rarely worked at the next.

1976Edit

Because of health issues, Jody Scheckter was unable to test the car much before its debut. Patrick Depailler did most of the testing, so he was the first to drive the car in a race, qualifying third in Spain. Overheating brakes caused him to spin into the barrier during the race. Scheckter got the next chassis built, and finished fourth in Belgium, while Depailler retired again, this time when the engine broke. Despite the car's speed, it was still regarded as a novelty, until the following race at Monaco. At the 'jewel of the crown' race, in front of a larger number of sponsors and media than anywhere else, the two P34s shone under the spotlight. They could not match the pace of Niki Lauda's Ferrari, but Scheckter and Depailler finished 2-3, a lap ahead of the rest of the field, the car's narrow track and nimble handling proving to be perfect for the street circuit. And, just to show that Monaco was not a fluke, the team scored a dominant 1-2 finish at the next race in Sweden. Ultimately the two drivers finished third and fourth in the championship, but well behind the duel between Lauda and James Hunt, while the team was third in the championship, behind Ferrari and McLaren.

1977Edit

Race Victories Edit

Year Event Driver Notes
1976 Sweden South Africa Jody Scheckter Scheckter led teammate Patrick Depailler to a P34 1-2 finish

Complete Formula One ResultsEdit

YearDriverTyre12345678910111213141516
1976 Flag of Brazil Flag of South Africa 1928-1994 Flag of the United States Flag of Spain 1945 1977 Flag of Belgium Flag of Monaco Flag of Sweden Flag of France Flag of the United Kingdom Flag of Germany Flag of Austria Flag of the Netherlands Flag of Italy Flag of Canada Flag of the United States Flag of Japan
South Africa Jody
Scheckter
G 4th 2nd 1st 6th 2nd 2nd Ret 5th 5th 4th 2nd Ret
France Patrick
Depailler
G Ret Ret 3rd 2nd 2nd Ret Ret Ret 7th 6th 2nd Ret 2nd


YearDriverTyre1234567891011121314151617
1977 Flag of Argentina Flag of Brazil Flag of South Africa 1928-1994 Flag of the United States Flag of Spain 1945 1977 Flag of Monaco Flag of Belgium Flag of Sweden Flag of France Flag of the United Kingdom Flag of Germany Flag of Austria Flag of the Netherlands Flag of Italy Flag of the United States Flag of Canada Flag of Japan
Sweden Ronnie
Peterson
G Ret Ret Ret Ret 8th Ret 3rd Ret 12th Ret 9th 5th Ret 6th 16th Ret Ret
France Patrick
Depailler
G Ret Ret 3rd 4th Ret Ret 8th 4th Ret Ret Ret 13th Ret Ret 14th 2nd 3rd

NotesEdit

In 2000, the Avon tire company agreed to manufacture some of the special front tires. Since then, the cars have been a fan favorite at historic meetings like those held at Goodwood, Lime Rock Park and Laguna Seca. One of the cars appeared in the racing sequences for the film Rush, documenting the 1976 battle between Niki Lauda and James Hunt.


V T E 1976 Formula One Season
Constructors Ferrari • Tyrrell • Lotus • Brabham • March • McLaren • Surtees • BRM • Shadow • Wolf-Williams • Ensign • Hesketh • Ligier • Parnelli • Penske • Fittipaldi • Boro • Kojima • Maki
Engines Alfa Romeo • BRM • Ferrari • Ford
Drivers Lauda • 2 Regazzoni • 35 Reutemann • 3 J. Scheckter • 4 Depailler • 5 Peterson • 5 Evans • 5/6 Andretti • 6 Nilsson • 7 Reutemann • 7/77 Stommelen • 7 Perkins • 8 Pace • 9 Brambilla • 10 Lombardi • 10 Peterson • 34 Stuck • 35 Merzario • 11 Hunt • 12 Mass • 13 Galica • 14 Ashley • 15 I. Scheckter • 16 Pryce • 17 Jarier • 18 Lunger • 18 Andersson • 18 Takahara • 19 Jones • 20 Ickx • 20 Merzario • 21 Zorzi • 21 Leclère • 21 Amon • 21 Brown • 21 Binder • 21 Kuwashima • 22 Amon • 22 Nève • 22 Binder • 22 Ickx • 24 Ertl • 25 Edwards • 25 Stommelen • 25 Ribeiro • 25 Zapico • 26 Laffite • 27 Andretti • 28 Watson • 30 Fittipaldi • 31 Hoffmann • 32 Kessel • 32 Evans • 33 De Villota • 33 Nève • 33 Nellemann • 33 Magee • 33 Lombardi • 37/40 Perkins • 37/39/40 Pesenti-Rossi • 38 Pescarolo • 39 Hayje • 39 Stuppacher • 40 Wilds • 51 Hasemi • 52 Hoshino • 54 Trimmer
Cars Ferrari 312T • Ferrari 312T2 • McLaren M23 • McLaren M26 • Tyrrell 007 • Tyrrell P34 • Lotus 77 • Penske PC3 • Penske PC4 • Ligier JS5 • March 761 • Shadow DN3 • Shadow DN5B • Shadow DN8 • Brabham BT45 • Brabham BT44B • Surtees TS16 • Surtees TS19 • Fittipaldi FD03 • Fittipaldi FD04 • Ensign N174 • Ensign N176 • Parnelli VPJ4B • Hesketh 308D • Williams FW04 • Williams FW05 • Boro N175 • Kojima KE007 • BRM P201B • Maki F102A
Tyres Goodyear • Dunlop • Bridgestone
Races Brazil • South Africa • U.S. West • Spain • Belgium • Monaco • Sweden • France • Britain • Germany • Austria • Netherlands • Italy • Canada • United States • Japan
See also 1975 Formula One Season • 1977 Formula One Season • Category

Template:1977

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