The theory behind this car was very simple; more tyres in contact with the road, the more traction which would be available. But, as Tyrrell found out, it was not that easy and many issues with the design were soon discovered.
It was obvious that using smaller wheels would result in less drag and this is a great advantage in terms of top speed on straights. However smaller tyres mean that there is a smaller contact patch between the tyre and the road, resulting in a reduction in overall traction. In order to both reduce drag and to maintain the high amount of traction required, Tyrrell decided to build an F1 car with 6 wheels. However there were some major problems with the design:
- Wear – the front wheels were 10″ goodyear tyres and, as they were much smaller than the rears, they had to spin about 1.6 times faaster. This resulted in higher amounts of wear, so grip was reduced and more stops were needed.
- Brakes – the tyres spun much faster and this meant the brakes had to work harder to slow the car. This meant they often overheated and this led to multiple failures.
- Reliability – in the 1976 season, they had 8 DNFs and the following year, 19.
Although in theory the P34 was an exciting, innovative idea in the end it didn’t really work. They struggled as goodyear didn’t do any further development of the 10″ tyre, as it wasn’t the standard size, and the car was very unreliable. Later, the 6-wheeled car was banned so, with 1 win, it is the only six-wheeled F1 car to win a race.