A few decades ago, technical regulations in auto racing were much more relaxed than they are nowadays. Sadly it’s reduced race engineers’ creativity to fine tuning all-too similar looking cars by moving flaps a few millimeters here and there – even in Formula One, which is the pinnacle of motorsports.
Back then race engineers tried many different things. One of the most famous ‘experiments’ was the development of F1 cars with six wheels. Tyrrell was the most successful with its P34 six-wheeler, which was campaigned in 1976 and 1977. In order to improve the downforce, increase tire grip and braking force, the team used four small 10-inch wheels up front.
March and Williams took a different approach with four wheels at the rear but neither of them raced in actual Grand Prix races even though the 1982 Williams FW08B set lap records during testing.
In 1983, the FIA banned six wheel cars as well as four-wheel-drive and the era of six-wheeled F1 cars came to an end. Ferrari even took a stab at trying out a similar idea with dual rear tires.
Now, for the first time ever all three six-wheeler Formula 1 cars that actually ran will appear together at the upcoming Goodwood Festival of Speed, one of the world’s must-attend auto events, that takes place June 28 – July 1. The Tyrrell P34 has appeared several times before at Goodwood as it has proven to be a good car in classic races but it’s the first time the March 2-4-0 and Williams FW08B will share the limelight.
by John Rettie