Tyrrell P34 Six Wheeler (1974)
Putting Six Wheels into Perspective
The basic concept of six-wheeled ELF-Tyrrell Project 34 formula 1 car is a major step forward in Grand Prix technology, and advance in terms of safety as well as race track performance. Derek Gradner, the designer, explains the basis of his six-wheel theory and analyses the advantage of a racing car layout with six wheels, six brakes and steering through the four Mini-sized front wheels. "Motor racing is so very, very competitive that a tiny advantage can make a disproportionately large difference to the results of a race, and this 'advantage' is what all designers are striving to achieve. A Grand Prix car should be fast in a straight line, as fast as possible in corners, and brake effectively. In a race one assumes that all cars corner at the same speed, so you have to overtake on a straight and that is difficult when nearly every one has the same engines. Or you could outbrake into a corner. You might have a car that does not handle as well, but if you are fast on the straight and have good brakes, you will be faster round the circuit. Our aim was to build a car no worse than an existing car in a corner, but with superior speed on the straight and superior braking. From wind tunnel tests we knew it would be fast in a straight line and the advantage gained in braking with our new layout was an elementary calculation The wheels generate lift and drag on any racing car so to completely shroud them in a sports car body would greatly increase the speed, but regulations limit the width of the nose to 1500mm and to tuck the wheels inside the nose would result in a narrow track and a deterioration in cornering. This is because the dynamic loading on the tyres would be too great, but sharing the load between two tyres in tandem is the equivalent of a conventional car with wide track. And if you have four front wheels you don't need wheels the same size as a conventional car, so we asked Goodyear to make us special small tyres - even smaller than those we have on the car now. When the Goodyear people told us the tyre size they could produce for us, we designed the car around them. The front tyres are now inside the nose so that the lift generated by rotating tyres in a free air stream is almost completely cancelled. I calculated that the reduction in drag on our new car would be equivalent to at least 40 horsepower and we thought if we had a car with that advantage we could be competitive with Ferrari. An added important factor that emerged was that of safety. Deflation of a front tyre leads to loss of control, but out system of four front wheels all steering has let to a 'fail-safe' condition. Patrick Depailler pulled in to the pits at Siverstone during testing to complain of under steer and a check revealed that one of the front tyres was completely deflated, yet the driver had noticed only a deterioration in the handling. There was no suggestion of him losing control."
Gardner first conceived the idea of a six-wheeled racing car while working with Harry Ferguson Research on four-wheel drive transmission developments on Indianapolis cars. His idea then was to incorporate his four-wheel steering with four-wheel drive, with the rear pair of tandem fronts driving as well as steering and braking. When Gardner joined Ken Tyrrell to build the first of the Elf-sponsored Tyrrell-Ford car in 1970 be again raised his six-wheeled concept but Tyrrell rejected the idea then on grounds of over-complication on what had to be a simple, reliable and fast car for Jackie Stewart to defend his world championship title gained during 1969 with the Matra entered by the Tyrrell team. The 'simple, reliable and fast car,' was to be the fore-runner of a line designate the double-zero series, which was to win a total of 18 Grand Prix races, and two World Championships. The 007 model appeared in 1974 to be driven by Jody Scheckter and Patric Depailler and after three years the uprated design was still proving competitive as the fastest Ford-engined car at Long Beach during the US Grand Prix West in March 1976. - by Tamiya, from the instuction manual of the model
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