Tyrrell P34 & Other 6-Wheelers
owner, Ken Tyrrell (left) with car designer, Derek Gardner (right) and
driver Patrick Depailler (in cockpit).
of 3 drivers during 2
seasons (1976 and 1977)
Depailler - 1976 and 1977 seasons.
Scheckter - 1976 season.
Peterson - 1977 season.
P34 Race results for 1976
Was not in P34
but retires with fading brakes on lap 26.
Qualifies 7th, finishes 7th
but retires with engine failure
finishes 2nd Qualifies 4th, finishes 3rd
1st Qualifies 4th, finishes 2nd
finishes 6th Qualifies 3rd,
Qualifies 8th, finishes
2nd Qualifies 5th, but retires
finishes 2nd Qualifies 3rd,
but crashes on lap 1
and takes fastest
Qualifies 10th but
crashes Qualifies 13th but
retires with suspension failure
on lap 14 with suspension
5th Qualifies 14th,
Qualifies 2nd, finishes 5th
4th, finishes 6th
finishes 4th Qualifies 4th,
finishes 2nd and
gets fastest lap
Qualifies 2nd, finishes
Qualifies 5th, but retires
Qualifies 13th, finishes
2nd in torrential rain
P34 scored its only
Formula 1 Grand Prix win in 1976, with Jody Scheckter wining the
Swedish Grand Prix at Anderstorp.
Jody Scheckter came 3rd in the 1976 Drivers Championship and Depailler
came fourth. The P34 scored 71 points for Tyrrell, giving them 3rd
place in the Constructors Championship. This was an impressive first
year for such a radical car
Tyrrell P34 Race
results for 1977
Qualifies 14th, spun out
Qualifies 3rd, retires
on lap 32 with overheating engine
on lap 28
Qualifies 4th, finishes
lap 5 with
Qualifies 10th, retired
on Qualifies 12th, finishes
lap 5 with fuel line
Qualifies 15th, finishes 8th
retires on lap 12 with engine problem
retires on lap Qualifies 8th,
retires with brake & gearbox problem
10 with brake
Qualifies 8th, finishes
Qualifies 5th, finishes 8th
10th, retires with Qualifies 6th, finishes
Qualifies 17th, finishes
12th Qualifies 12th, crashes on lap 21
retires with Qualifies 18th,
crashes due to failing brakes
retires with Qualifies 15th, retires
lap 22 with engine problem
Qualifies 15th, finishes
5th Qualifies 10th, finishes 13th
lap 31 with engine problem
Qualifies 12th, finishes 6th
13th, retires lap 24 with engine problem
finishes16th Qualifies 8th,
Qualifies 6th, finishes
Qualifies 18th, crashes on
Ronnie Peterson came 14th in the 1977 Drivers Championship and
Depailler came eighth, the P34 scored a disappointing 27 points for
Tyrrell giving them 6th place in the 1977 Constructors Championship.
after such an awful season and without the commitment of Goodyear to
develop the front tyres Tyrrell had no option but to abandon Project
34, and developed the 008 for the 1978 season, a car with just four
wheels. The P34 was resigned to the history books and the cars sold to
private collectors as historic F1 oddities.
Gardners' Design Goals
his earlier and successful Tyrrell four wheel F1 design, which
carried Jackie Stewart to the World Championship, he considered the
primary things he had to deal with to improve a chassis for the 1976
season. These were :
1) reduce drag
2) improve cornering power
3) increase braking grip
wheels at the front seemed a logical solution. First calculations,
showed just about everything going for it :
1) a drop in
height of the wheel and tyre of 4", lowered drag, increased top speed
2) 2" narrower front wheels reduced
frontal area, worth about 10-15 bhp
3) a 40% increase in the area of contact
patch on the road
4) 34% more brake pad pressing
on 26.5% more disc swept area
5) smaller, lighter discs,
wheels, tyres, dampers and coils
monocoque, riveted tub.
need for such unusual parts' dimensions for the new design, cut the car
off from some of the semi "off-the-shelf" parts and services obtainable
at high speed and short notice within Britain's racing car industry.
Initial test at the Paul Ricard circuit, showed instant promise. It
rapidly proved faster than the previous car with corner loads rising to
a formidable 1.88G.
Braking was better and those three main objectives on which the
original concept was developed, had initially been achieved.
Paradoxically, a higher top speed is not necessarily a total blessing
in a racing car. The driver arrives at a higher speed than previously
experienced at every corner, and much has to be given awy in harder or
earlier braking, extra heat, tyre wear, a slightly different line of
approach or attitude in the corner itself.
Larger braking area and tyre contact patches dealt with two aspects,
but the laws of thermodynamics were not going to permit the evasion of
The still massive rear, together with the wing, largely governed
frontal area, and smaller fronts could not exert decisive effects.
However, it was always quicker in a straight line. Having reduced the
width of the car at the front, cornering force had to be recovered, a
weakness mainly due to heaviness. Exotic materials weren't used yet,
but as time went on, these exotic materials crept in, and the car
In the end, it was recognised by other F1 designers as
but gradually failed because, while constant development was going into
the rear tyres, which all teams were using, the same work could not go
into the small fronts, so it gradually fell behind everyone else.
P34 had been born out of passion and the guts to try something
different, and there are those who say that it was ahead of
its time. If
Goodyear had fully developed the tyre it needed, and the overheating
brake problem was resolved, who knows what might have been possible.
Cosworth DFV, 3-litre, 465 bhp.
double wishbones with outboard coils
Parallel lower links, single top link, twin radius rods,
rack and pinion with slave link to each axle
discs all round. Front calipers integral with uprights.
the opposition, better turn-in grip was also improving their braking,
and they had the elbow room to experiment with larger, multi-pot
calipers, double installations and bigger, thicker discs. Such
alternatives on the Tyrrell, where the caliper was actually an integral
part of the upright, verged on the impossible. Bit by bit the weight
load crept up as well.
wheels, 10" diameter, 9" wide
13" diameter, 18"
special fronts with 16" OD.
agreed to make tyres in at least two compounds and constructions, in
both wets and dry slicks. All other teams were using
similarly-sized tyres on 13" front wheels, so any new
in carcase, tread rubber or combination of the two could be produced in
relatively high numbers. They went to half a dozen teams, different
cars, different drivers. The feedback was considerable with easy
crosschecks to filter out really way-out compliments, ot criticisms.
Small tyres went against all the calculations by refusing to heat up
properly on the first compounds. Other designers had forged ahead to
utilise altered front suspensions with nwer front tyres, and
a long way on their own improved high G turn-in success. With every
race they nibbled away at the P34's advantage.
Drivers and other heavy objects were edging forwards in the chassis,
increasing the front weight distribution, and somewhat ironically for
Tyrrell, the much greater tyre contact area of four patches meant
correspondingly less weght pressing on them. One undisputed component
is the actual weight on the contact patch. Tyrrell were very much on
their own, and Goodyear was having to produce the special tiny tyres in
tiny numbers. No one had ever made such tyres or suitable wheels to
carry them at those speeds and revs.
Given time Tyrrell was quoted as saying, we couls have solved the tyre
problem, but time is what you've never got in F1 racing.
An alternative 6-wheel F1 concept
March Engineering in Bicester, designer Robin Herd had watched the P34
experiment closely and, by late 1976, had come to the conclusion that
the 'four front wheels' concept might have been a blind alley. In his
assessment, the improved aerodynamics at the front were largely negated
by the rear tyres which at 24" (60 cm) diameter would still have
accounted for 30 to 40% of the car's total drag. He also felt that with
a modern rear wheel drive F1 car, the extra grip could be employed more
usefully for the driven wheels.
this in mind, Herd drew up plans for a six-wheeled car with four driven
wheels at the rear and all of the wheels the same 16" diameter. His
theory was that with all six tyres the same size as the regular F1
front tyre, the car would not only be slimmer than normal F1 cars but
would possess improved aerodynamic performance at the rear with much
cleaner air passing over wing. Four driven wheels would also mean
better traction and, unlike the Tyrrell, there would be no problem with
tyre development since the car would use exactly the same rubber as a
conventional F1 car. Herd
called this concept '2-4-0', following the Whyte notation used to
describe railway rolling stock: two wheels leading, four driven wheels,
zero trailing wheels.
the apparent technical advantages of this concept laid out, Max Mosley
(Herd's partner at March Cars) gave the go-ahead for a prototype to be
built. Mosley noted that the P34 had generated a lot of additional
publicity for Tyrrell and, aside from the technical merits, believed a
March six-wheeler would be an attractive package to present to
the March team was at something of a low point financially during
1976/77 and the development costs of an all-new six-wheel car would be
high. As a compromise measure, a 1976-design Cosworth DFV-powered March
761 was adapted by team engineer Wayne Eckersley in a quiet corner of
the Bicester factory. Existing parts from the factory stores were used
key feature of a car with four driven wheels at the rear would be the
transmission. An ingenious gearbox design was required to minimise any
frictional power losses. It would also have to be stronger (and hence
heavier) to counteract the higher torsional and flexural stresses that
the close-coupled four-wheel-drive system would generate.
original design for the gearbox casing recognised these factors and
specified a series of strengthening ribs to counteract the additional
loading. However, at some point in development it was decided that the
casting would be very complex and expensive to produce. By way of a
cost-cutting measure, some of the ribs were duly removed from the
fact, the design utilised a standard Hewland F1 gearbox for the first
axle. To this, the new casing, gears and an extended pinion for the
second axle were fitted. Practically, this meant that any 761 chassis
could be easily adapted should the concept prove workable. Once
the 2-4-0 was partially built, the press were invited to the factory in
late November 1976 for a viewing of the hitherto 'secret' project. The
unveiling generated a huge amount of interest with articles in several
motor sport magazines plus a photograph on the cover of the following
week's Autosport magazine (dated 2nd December 1976). Simultaneously,
the company also outlined plans for a full running demonstration and
developmental testing at Silverstone circuit scheduled for a fortnight
first test took place at Silverstone in late 1976. Unfortunately, on
the initial lap the gearbox casing flexed and the gears became
unmeshed. No immediate solution could be found and so the rear crown
wheel and pinion were removed for the rest of the day's testing.
Effectively the 2-4-0 had become a two-wheel drive car again.
Fortunately for March, it was a wet day at the circuit and the driver
Howden Ganley could not push the car too fast. Consequently, the test
was reported as a success by the media.
problems on the first lap highlighted the fact that the car needed a
new, stronger gearbox casing and a serious development program. Unable
to afford the time and resources that this would require, the 2-4-0
project was de-prioritised by the company. The
car made a brief appearance during practice for the 1977 Brazilian
Grand Prix at the end of January. At this time, the car was painted in
blue and white Rothmans livery (March's sponsor at the time) but it did
not take part in the race. A
few days later in February, the car (now fitted with a stronger
gearbox) ran again at Silverstone with driver Ian Scheckter at the
wheel. Although it was another wet day, the car was run up and down the
Hangar Straight and, with four driven wheels, Scheckter reported that
the traction was 'incredible'. Additionally, the events of the day
again made Autosport magazine's front page (dated 10th February 1977). But
this was the end of 2-4-0's F1 development history. On its reappearance
at the Belgium GP in June, the converted 761 chassis had been
reconfigured as a conventional four wheeler.
Hill climbing - In
1979 the 2-4-0 concept was revived by British Hillclimb specialist Roy
Lane. Lane had bought a March 771 chassis and with Robin Herd's
blessing was loaned the improved 2-4-0 transmission unit. The fact that
the 2-4-0 was originally an inexpensive workshop conversion of the
standard March F1 chassis meant that Lane was easily able to fit the
unit to his car. Taking
advantage of four-wheel traction, Lane won several British
hill-climbing events in the 771/2-4-0 that year with the first win at
Wiscombe Park in May. However, over the season the car proved
troublesome and Lane eventually switched back to the four-wheel
only limited success in short duration racing events, the 2-4-0 concept
was never disproven. It is possible that if a weight-shedding program
had been pursued (possibly using stronger and lighter materials) and
the car's suspect handling improved, the 2-4-0 could have proved
successful in F1. The concept would certainly have adapted well to
ground effect which was the coming technology in grand prix racing.
WilliamsF1 team seem to have agreed with Herd's theory because in 1982
they built and tested a '2-4-0' style six-wheeler - designated the
FW08B. However, any hopes of seeing a '2-4-0' race car compete in a
grand prix were dashed when the FIA banned all four-wheel drive systems
in this category. The FW08B remains on display in the Williams' factory
|Covini C3A (2011) -
Takes 2011 Goodwood Festival by Storm
The Covini C3A is the first 6 wheeler supercar to receive the very
exclusive invitation to Goodwood Festival of Speed by Lord March and
was one of the stars of the show all weekend in 2011.
The exclusive and
groundbreaking car attracted lots of interest from
sport enthusiasts, both in the paddock and running up the hill. The
Covini corner of the supercar paddock was constantly full of people
marveling at the novelty of the car and wondering why... why 6 wheels?
We asked Gianluca
Covini, son of the Italian expert and mechanical
engineer Ferruccio Covini who developed his passion for cars and
engines by focusing his experimentation and innovation towards a very
that, for performance enthusiasts, four front wheels
offer the ability to get around a racetrack faster than ever before as
better traction offers higher cornering speeds and deeper braking,
particularly when the pavement is slippery or less than ideal.
In a roadgoing
sense, even without considering the passive safety
afforded by two front wheels at each corner (which means a front tyre
puncture will not cause the vehicle to lose control), 6 wheels will
grant additional stopping power afforded by four front discs and four
tyre treads to transmit the force - although the individual area of
each tyre tread is smaller than that of a traditional tyre, the total
area is greater. Increased grip is also guaranteed by the drop in the
individual unsprung weight of each wheel, offering much better
directional stability and higher cornering speeds than a four wheeler.
Finally the Covini feels more comfortable than it's 4 wheels rivals,
thanks to less unsprung weight at each wheel, that allows the
suspension to control wheel movement better and guarantees more evenly
distributed reaction forces in the suspension.
Powered by an Audi 4.2 litre V8 that produces nearly 500bhp, and with
its weight kept to just 1150kg using a tubular steel frame and a
lightweight carbon fibre body, the Covini C3A is capable of exceeding
speeds of 300kph (190mph).
Powered by its
great technical innovation and Italian passion, the
Covini C3A has been presented in the UK by Genius Car Ltd, a company
founded by Eugenio Carugati (another Italian engineer with a passion
for cars) and it's aimed at the top end of the market who requires
unique, bespoke and innovative solutions.
With its bold,
timeless design, genius technical innovation and
extraordinary performance, the Covini C3A might lead the way to more
manufacturers going the way of six wheels and, if we judge by the
interest from both enthusiasts and experts at the Goodwood Festival of
Speed this weekend, we'll certainly see some interesting developments
in the world of motoring.
Covini C3A Story
Covini is a niche name known
primarily by car enthusiasts in automotive
circles - that's almost certain to change thanks to the company's
latest design - a six wheel sports car along similar engineering lines
to the famous Tyrrell P34 Formula One racing car of the mid-seventies.
The Tyrrell P34 is without doubt the most recognisable car in the
history of world motor sport - it remains the only six wheeler ever to
start (and even win) a Grand Prix. Today, the spirit of that
extraordinary machine lives on in the exquisite, hand crafted Covini
C3A - the only supercar in the world with a remarkable six wheel
configuration. Powered by an Audi 4.2 litre V8 that produces nearly
500bhp, and with its weight kept to just 1150kg using a tubular steel
frame and a lightweight carbon fibre body, the C3A is capable of
exceeding speeds of 300kph (190mph).
The Covini C3A is
the realisation of a 35 year dream that stretches
back to the era of the Tyrell P34. After constructing a few prototypes
as a hobby, in 1978 mechanic Ferruccio Covini founded Covini
Engineering, a small company dedicated to the construction of static
and automotive prototypes. Built from his passion for cars and engines,
his artisan company has always kept its focus on experimentation and
innovation rather than big volume production.
for his six wheeled design came after Covini noticed
how little grip and comfort his 4 wheeled cars afforded him,
particularly on wet, slippery roads. Fuelled by a desire to erase this
problem, Covini and his small team set to work developing a prototype
that would give greater power, braking and handling performance than
any other car in the world.
The first tests
provided Covini with more encouragement then he could
have predicted. The prototype showed remarkable levels of performance
and safety, as the six wheels gave the car a greater tyre surface. In
addition to its fantastic handling, speed and braking, the original
prototype also nullified aquaplaning in wet conditions, because the two
foremost wheels clear the water for the ones behind them and allow
better road adhesion.
Encouraged by the
margin that the prototype had exceeded its forecasts,
the project soon attracted the attention of a second mechanical
engineer, Eugenio Carugati. Instantly falling in love with the car,
Carugati joined forces with Covini and headed up a passionate team that
developed the project in Covini's small workshop.
Other partners in
the project have included DAEWOO (technological
research on prototypes), BOSCH (electronic and braking system), BREMBO
(brake system), MOMO (airbag and new technology), PIRELLI (special
tyres and research), ANTERA (special ultra-light alloy wheels) and
POLITECNICO DI MILANO (optimization of the chassis set-up).
There are many
arguments for four front wheels - Tyrrell's aim with the
P34 front-end layout was intended to minimize induced drag by reducing
lift at the front and to turn that gain into the ability to enter and
leave corners faster. The modern day C3A's six wheeled design offers
many advantages over a conventional four wheel car. For performance
enthusiasts, four front wheels offer the ability to get around a
racetrack faster than ever before as better traction offers higher
cornering speeds and deeper braking, particularly when the pavement is
slippery or less than ideal.
In a roadgoing
sense, the passive safety afforded by two front wheels
at each corner means a front tyre puncture will not cause the vehicle
to lose control (thanks to the other wheel next to it). Then there's
the additional stopping power afforded by four front discs and four
tyre footprints to transmit the force - although the individual area of
each tyre footprint is smaller than that of a traditional tyre, the
total area is greater.
Comfort is another
consideration - less unsprung weight at each wheel
allows the suspension to control wheel movement better and the overall
ride benefits from more evenly distributed reaction forces in the
suspension. The drop in the individual unsprung weight of each wheel
also offers much better grip and better directional stability - with a
well-matched set of tyres, a six-wheeler can be expected to have higher
cornering speeds than a four wheeler.
With its bold,
timeless design, genius technical innovation and
extraordinary performance, the Covini C3A might lead the way to more
manufacturers going the way of six wheels, now that modern computers,
sensors and material science have all advanced to the degree necessary
to control all the complexities of what's happening with those front
Wheeled ECO Supercar
is a sports car competing in fast, powerful and luxurious environment
where performance and speed are the most important aspects and
manufacturers cannot afford to compromise these factors. Covini wants
to stand out and be different, this manufacturer has invested time and
money and finally developed an eco sustainable project. The C3A will be
an hybrid car, half petrol and half electric, able to combine power and
speed typical of sport cars together with creativity and responsibility
towards the environment and the planet. The car's electric engine will
also be able to reuse the braking power, which, using a technique known
in Formula 1, will guarantee clean energy to drive around town or
cruise in the countryside without harming the environment, at the same
time assuring top performance when pushed to the max on the tracks.
History of Ingenuity
Given the pure
shock and awe this car imposes on its beholders, it is
pretty surprising to discover that the idea of a six-wheeled supercar
is about as old as the supercar itself. The concept of four wheels at
the front dates back to the early '70s and was first developed for
Grand Prix racing, of all things. Those were the days of very few
limitations to the formula of Formula 1 cars, and on the grid appeared
a bizarre-looking car named the Tyrrell P34 that had four tiny wheels
at the front and two larger ones at the back. The unique design
promised reduced lift, increased front brake area and more front grip
thanks to the four contact patches.
What everyone soon
realized is that the Tyrell had even better grip and
braking capabilities than its competitors. On its first racing season
it achieved eight 2nd-place podiums and won the Swedish Grand Prix at
the hands of Jody Scheckter (who later went on to win the F1 title for
Ferrari). But despite this initial success, the project was abandoned
after only two seasons, mostly because of Goodyear's failure to
continue development on the proprietary 10-inch front tires.
The idea of a
six-wheel supercar started blooming in Ferruccio Covini's
mind around the time that the Tyrrell P34 dominated the circuit. Back
then, the young Italian engineer was designing concept cars as a hobby,
and decided to start a small company (still as a hobby) that would
specialize in technologically advanced automotive prototypes. Reality,
however, has a way of revising even the best plans. He had to put off
the realization of his dream car, and started producing more
prototype was a square-shaped diesel 4x4 with replaceable
outer panels, named T44. In 1982, he uncovered his second project, the
B24 — a 130-hp two-seater that claimed to be the first production
diesel car to exceed 124 mph. And yes, by production we mean a series
of nine cars. Covini stayed loyal to diesel engines and revealed
another prototype in 1986 named the T40. It was a five-cylinder
3.5-liter turbocharged GT that produced an impressive 225 hp using a
unique overboost function.
During the '90s,
Covini contributed to several projects, like the
Dragon-Fly helicopter and the Callaway C7, before committing to another
aspiring venture of his own — the C36 sports car: a lightweight coupe
(2,200 pounds) powered by an advanced 3.6-liter common-rail turbodiesel
that developed 300 hp. It was set to be one of the fastest diesel cars
in the world, capable of 186 mph, though an official attempt was never
From Six-Wheel to
Covini then began
designing his long-awaited dream car, the model that
will become his future trademark. He called it the C6W, short for
Covini 6-Wheeler, although the production model set for 2012 will bear
a different name, C3A — Covini 3-Axis.
process was assisted by Ferruccio's two sons: one an
electronics engineer and racing driver, the other a mechanical
engineer. He also managed to pull together a lot of big sponsors:
Pirelli (tires), Brembo (brakes), Bosch (electronics) and Momo
(airbags). However, the biggest sponsorship came from a different
field, literally — PMI, one of the largest tractor makers in Italy,
which contributed its assembly line for the planned production run of
20 cars per year.
a Fine Line Between Insanity and Ingenuity
prototype was introduced at the Geneva auto show in 2005,
shocking the automotive world almost as much as the Tyrrell did in its
time. The power plant is an Audi-sourced 4.2-liter V8 that has been
tuned to 440 hp and coupled with a six-speed manual gearbox. The
chassis is tubular steel, while the body is made of a combination of
carbon and fiberglass, with a retractable plastic hardtop. Aided by a
curb weight of just 2,535 pounds, the C6W promises to hit 62 mph in
less than 4 seconds and climb to a top speed of more than 186 mph.
engineering obstacle was, of course, designing and tuning the
front suspension. The wheels are attached to the front subframe using
standard wishbones, and each couple is joined by a longitudinal strut.
In the prototype, each wheel had
its own spring and damper, while the production vehicles will receive
an inboard coil-over for both wheels on each side (one for the left
set and one for the right). The reason, explains Covini, is to allow
better stability at very high speeds, a difficult mission to
if both wheels are not completely synchronized.
On the road the
six-armed monster feels very tame and familiar. Besides
the tiny, useless side mirrors and the notchy gearchange, all the
controls are very easy to use and the ride really is very well sorted.
The only extraordinary sensation comes from the fact that the nearest
wheels are, indeed, very near, this results in
ultra-sharp turn-in and a sense that the car is pivoting around you.
Despite all its
tiny flaws, this car really works great. It's accurate, tight and very
composed in the bends. The steering provides superb feedback and
there's lots of front-end grip. You can even get it going sideways with
a very progressive transition from grip to oversteer. And there's
nothing on earth that looks like this machine in a slide. Where else
does one see four wheels in opposite lock? In other words, it's got all
the essentials of a good sports car.