When saw the Tyrrell Project 34 six-wheeler, with its four tiny wheels at the front, you either approved or thought it was daft. If you approved then the huge rear wheels stood out like sore thumbs, negating all the reduction in frontal area gained by the small-wheel, narrow-track layout at the front. As an experiment, and nothing more than that at the moment, Robin Herd has built a six-wheeled March, with four small wheels at the back, with all four rear wheels driven. Taking a normal March 761, actually their 1976 test-chassis, they have attached an alloy spacer to the back of the Hewland gearbox, with a shaft running through it from a muff-coupling on the back of the pinion shaft. This drive runs to a crown-wheel/pinion unit to which is mounted a frame to carry the suspension members of the second driven axle, with its own inboard disc brakes. The rearmost hubs are attached to the middle ones by tubular links and then normal radius rods run forward to the monocoque chassis to the back of which is replacing the normal back on the Hewland gearbox, a normal March 761 can be easily achieved. On the double-axle layout all four rear wheels are the same size as the normal front ones, reducing dramatically the frontal area caused by normal Formula One rear tyres. In addition the airflow across the rear of the car is less disturbed and as the rear aerofoil is the regulation distance behind the rearmost axle it means that it is much further back relative to the centre-of-gravity of the whole car. Naturally the double-axle layout carries a weight and a length penalty, but nevertheless it is an interesting and courageous experiment.
BRM Type 207
The BRM team are to reappear in Formula One racing with a new car, designated the Type 207. Len Terry has designed a new monocoque chassis to the back of which is attached a tubular structure carrying the engine/gearbox unit and rear suspension. Front suspension is relatively orthodox and the car has a “winkle picker” nose configuration, with wide canard fins, oil and water radiators being side-mounted. The engine is still a 60-degree VI2 with four valves per cylinder and twin overhead camshafts per bank, but Aubrey Woods has redesigned the top end, and the bottom end, to say nothing of the bit in the middle, and with a bore and stroke of 0.031 inches by 2.010 inches this new engine runs to 11,500 r.p.m. and hopefully gives 490 b.h.p. Alex Stokes has re-designed the 5-speed gearbox/rear axle layout, resulting in a smaller, lighter and more compact unit and all the mechanical components are covered by the bodywork, presenting a neat and clean appearance, with air intakes alongside the cockpit. Larry Perkins is to drive this new ERM and it is hoped to have a second car and driver in the team by the time the European season begins.
The Tyrrell team are continuing with their six-wheeled P34 idea and within the organisation a special Research and Development team has been formed which will have its own six-wheeled test vehicle. This will be fully instrumented so that all the team drivers, Peterson or Depailler, will have to do is to drive it at given consistent lap speeds. There will be no need for them to try and explain to Derek Gardner (in their best broken English) what the car is doing. The information collected by the instrumentation will tell them all he needs to know and this can be fed mathematically into equations that will provide him with a great deal of know-how on the whys and wherefores of racing car handling, which at the moment is a bit hit-and-miss. The R and D car will not actually race, being driven in practice only as and when the team drivers have moments to spare from the serious business of getting the 1977 Tyrrell cars on the front of the grid.
At the time of closing for Press the new Lotus for 1977 was about to be announced but all we can say is that it is referred to as the John Player Special Mark III and Mario Andretti and Gunnar Nilsson will be racing it in the forthcoming Formula One races.
The major happening in Team Surtees is that continued sponsorship is assured, which means the team can go on racing, and that Vittorio Brambilla has signed to drive for John Surtees, having tested one of the 1976 cars at the Paul Ricard circuit.
This one-man affair will continue with financial support from Switzerland, brought along by Gianclaudio Regazzoni, who will drive the Ensign and have his first taste of Cosworth V8 power.
The long-awaited entry into Formula One by the Regie-Renault would appear to be happening this year, with their own turbocharged V6 engine in an Alpine built chassis