While Niki Lauda was busy trying to win his second F1 World Championship, Tyrell Racing was producing a rather special F1 racing car. Derek Gardner, their chief designer had produced a car with tiny, 10-inch diameter wheels at the front. The idea was to reduce the frontal area, thus reducing aerodynamic drag.
The problem with the small diameter wheels was the reduced area of contact with the road giving poorer grip when cornering. Gardner’s answer – to give the Tyrell P34 four wheels at the front instead of two!
The Tyrell P34′s first race was the Spanish Grand Prix in 1976, with two cars driven by Jody Scheckter and Patrick Depailler. Its best ever result was the Swedish Grand Prix with a 1 – 2 finish. Jody Scheckter is still the only driver ever to win a Grand Prix in a six wheeled car.
Schekter left Elf Team Tyrell at the end of 76, and was replaced by Ronnie Peterson for the 1977 season. The car was not as good as in 76, largely due to the lack of tyre development by Goodyear, and did not reappear in 1978. It was a short lived chapter in F1 history. The P34 was one of the two most radical designs to have succeeded in F1. The other was the Brabham BT46B Fancar.