To overcome the lack of advantage inherent in a sport where most competitors were using the same engine (then the Ford Cosworth V-8 DFV), same gearbox and same (sole-supplier) Goodyear tires. Derek Gardiner sought to think outside of the box and Project 34 was begun with keen support from Ken Tyrrell, team owner.
It's most striking feature of course was the use of four 10 in. wheels
instead of the regular two. The 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 use of four small disc brakes required a special
triple master-cylinder system, each feeding the brakes on one of the three axles. This was
necessary as adjustments were required to control locking at the four front wheels.
two front wheels locked first, then the effective wheelbase of the car was shortened and
if the second set of front wheels locked first this resulted in the effective wheelbase
being lengthened. The size of the front tires put special stress on the cross-ply tires
Goodyear supplied. Had radial-ply Michelin tires been available to the team the story
might have been different. Unfortunatly Goodyear's tire development program did not
have the capacity to properly support the special 10 in. tires used by the P34.
The high point for what was known as
Project 34 came at the Swedish Grand Prix in 1976 where Jody Scheckter came in first
followed by his teammate Depailler in second. Gardner walked away from F1 midway through the 1977 season to become a director of Borg-Warner’s research division. After two seasons and the departure of Derek
Gardner the experiment was abandoned.
For more info on the Tyrrell P34 see: Project-34