Ken's team at the height of its powers
- Mattijs Diepraam
- 8W November 2000 issue
- Patrick Depailler - Committed to life, by Mattijs Diepraam
- Matra International - Ken Tyrrell's French connection, by Mattijs Diepraam/Rick MacLennan
- Jody Scheckter - From speeding hazard to sublime finesse, by Mattijs Diepraam
1971 US GP (3 October 1971)
Silverstone (picture by Rob Ryder)
1973 British GP (12-14 July 1973)
A surprise support act to Ken Tyrrell's first championship as a constructor, American Peter Revson made a late-season third-car entry in his home Grand Prix, to celebrate his return to F1 after seven years of absence. With Champion Stewart on pole and young Cevert taking his first win (that sadly would remain his only one), Tyrrell had every reason to feel proud. Stewart's championship, fending off all the big works team could throw at him, was the ultimate a garagiste such as Ken Tyrrell could achieve. And it was done with ease.
Having said that, Tyrrell wasn't your average garagiste. He had lashes of Elf money to spend, an unually talented designer by the name of Derek Gardner, and, of course, Jackie Stewart. Joining forces with Tyrrell's Matra International operation at the start of 1968, JYS had made the Matra look good, before taking a superb title leading the privateer (or rather, semi-works) Matra-Cosworth challenge. In 1970, with Matra concentrating on their own V12 effort, Jackie went on to make the March 701 look good before getting his hands on the first real Tyrrell - within three years Ken had evolved from a well-supported privateer to the most feared Cosworth kit-car constructor of the early seventies.
In 1971, it was first time lucky for Tyrrell - although luck had nothing to do with it! - as the season totally belonged to Stewart. Up-and-coming Ronnie Peterson, the runner-up in the championship, did not even score a win. The year was a triumph of talent over budget (and organisation over disorganisation), the Ferrari, BRM, McLaren and Lotus efforts all failing to materialize. With Cevert taking third in the championship and the team taking seven out of 11 wins, the constructors championship went Tyrrell's way just as easily as the drivers'.
Tyrrell's design wiz Derek Gardner had joined the team in 1969, when he became the project engineer for the Cosworth-engined MS84 4WD car. With Team Tyrrell becoming the prime customer for March's first chassis, Derek stayed with the team to work on Tyrrell's first car in the secrecy of his own home. In his garage (yes, that's the garagiste approach for you!) Gardner built up a mock-up which followed the lines of Bernard Boyer's Coke bottle-shaped Matra MS80, a car he had come to know through his adaptation for 4WD. For all the mystery surrounding the project, the 001 was a wholly conventional car, using an alloy monocoque, double wishbone front suspension, with single top links, double lower links and radius arm at the rear. It first ran in the Oulton Gold Cup before Tyrrell ditched the March and entered the 001 for the last three North American races of the 1970 championship. Ominously, Stewart stuck it on pole first time out and made the front row in the United States and Mexico, but failed to finish on all three occasions. The speed was there, now all they had to do over the winter was work on reliability
And it came in big lashes in 1971. The season was a Stewart and Tyrrell walk-over, with young Cevert (who got the more roomy 002 tub) also sharing in the victory spoils. At the Glen, with both titles sewn up long ago, Peter Revson joined the Elf Team Tyrrell ranks. Taking Stewart's original 001, which had been the team's spare since Stewart last raced it at Kyalami, Revson took a somewhat disappointing 19th on the grid, to have his clutch fail on the very first lap. A very inconspicuous return to Grand Prix racing for the American, who did manage to become a McLaren F1 regular for the next two seasons, partnering Denny Hulme. In Teddy Mayer's outfit, Peter became a top runner, taking numerous high grid positions and podiums, and topping it off with pole in Canada in 1972 before taking two cool wins in two of the strangest Grands Prix ever.
Peter had been a McLaren regular before joining the F1 team. In 1971, the selfmade Revlon heir moved over to the all-conquering McLaren Can-Am team after having done the 1970 season with Carl Haas' team. In the M8F he took five wins and also placed a McLaren second in the year's Indy 500. It was the culmination of his US days, which had started after he had dropped from F1 to F2 in 1965 and subsequently into F3. It wasn't for his lack of success, though. Granted, his first F1 season in his own Lotus 24, later adopted by the sponsorless Reg Parnell team, didn't see much to write to the States about, but the following F2 season for the Ron Harris-run Lotus works team looked promising enough. Stepping down to F3, Peter even took the Monaco GP support race. But the glamour of the European continent had evaporated all the same, and Revson decided to return home.
There he developed into an excellent sportscar racer in Can-Am and Trans-Am before returning to his single-seater roots with a fine performance in the 1969 Indy 500, taking fifth at the flag. Now occupied with both Can-Am and Indycars, the McLaren empire soon lured him back to Europe, to give him a combined F1 and Can-Am programme for 1972 (Redman replacing Peter in the Grand Prix team whenever there were conflicting dates). With the M23 for 1973, Revson took two great wet-weather wins, both the result of cunning and judgement.
Before his second win, in Canada, the seeds were sown for Peter's moving on to Shadow. At Monza, Emerson Fittipaldi had been irate with team mate Peterson's behaviour, not letting him through, which in the Brazilian's mind had lost him the title. When he found that Colin Chapman had masterminded Ronnie's win - new Champion Jackie Stewart had been running in a safe fourth place, so in Chapman's view team orders were not in order - Emerson decided to pack his bags and move his lot over to McLaren. With Marlboro diverting its money from BRM and Texaco also joining the fray for 1974, Mayer simply could not refuse. In light of Emerson's and the team's subsequent titles, and Hulme immediately winning the first race of the season, Mayer's decision to offer Peter Revson the third Yardley-backed car was vindicated, but Peter rightfully thought otherwise and jumped ship to join fellow American Don Nichols' team, who just had a very promising fledgling season. The third McLaren was now given to Mike Hailwood.
With two highly promising qualifying efforts in the South American opening races things looked good for Shadow and Revson. But then tragedy struck in testing for the South African GP at Kyalami. Apparently, the DN3's suspension failed on a critical moment, sending Revson hard into the barriers. The car was totally destroyed and Peter stood no chance of survival.
Just short of six months before the same fate had befallen François Cevert. The man who was supposed to be the kingpin of Elf Team Tyrrell in the post-Stewart era had tried to snatch pole position away from Ronnie Peterson when he suddenly lost his car on an all-out qualifying lap at Watkins Glen. Cevert's 006 disintegrated on impact and the Frenchman was gone immediately. Everyone felt a great loss as François had shown on several occasions in 1973 that by now he could match his team leader's pace, sometimes easily. In this respect it was acknowledged, also by Stewart himself, that Cevert could have won the German GP if he had chosen to, but instead he elected to hold station immediately behind winner JYS. In Argentina, he beat Stewart but was in turn beaten by Fittipaldi. In total, he notched up five second places behind Stewart, Fittipaldi and Peterson. It was expected that once promoted to Tyrrell's new No.1 position for 1974 he would soon increase his win tally in the same way he had done in F3 in the late sixties.
Becoming a Tecno runner in 1968, having endured a disastrous F3 debut season in an Alpine as the reward of winning the Volant Shell, Cevert cleaned up in French F3. Unsurprisingly, Tecno's Pederzani brothers offered François a place in their F2 works team for 1969. By winning at Reims he took third in the championship and drove in the F2 class in the German GP. Through his brother-in-law Jean-Pierre Beltoise he got enrolled in Matra's sportscar team while continuing with Tecno in F2. Then Johnny Servoz-Gavin's bad luck became Cevert's big break. JSG had been a shadow of himself after a huge crash blighted his eyesight, and after an extremely disappointing Monaco meeting, in which Johnny was stone last in qualifying, he decided to quit there and then. Three races into the season and Tyrrell was without a second driver. Who better to give the Elf-supported seat to than France's best young driver of the moment? Indeed, François was the ideal candidate.
Debuting at Zandvoort in Tyrrell's second customer March, Cevert played himself in quietly, for the moment content to set times that were similarly off Stewart's pace as Servoz-Gavin's. At Clermont-Ferrand Cevert already edged closer in qualifying and was well up with Stewart at Brands and Hockenheim, although on race pace he still was no match for his champion team mate. In Austria François got his first top-ten qualifying position but failed to start due to a broken engine. Then followed Monza, where he missed out on the slipstreaming battle for second but scored his first point all the same.
In 1971 he took up his Barrichello role in fashion, as Stewart Schumacher'ed his way to his second title. François picked up several runner-up spots behind the runaway champion and was slowly maturing as a Grand Prix driver. At the nothing-at-stake US GP François showed his huge natural talent by taking his first win. Allowed to grow under the tutelage of the most gifted driver of the era, Cevert was expected to take more wins in 1972, but Tyrrell faltered in their title defense - or Lotus proved too powerful to conquer. In the year-old 002 a second in Belgium and a fourth in France were Cevert's only rewards, before he could show his mettle with the all-new 006, the 1973 championship car.
It is also the year of our peculiar picture (courtesy of Rob Ryder). In it, François isn't actually in the car, but it was supposed to be his ride all the same. In practice at least where the 005 spare was put to use just as at Anderstorp, the Österreichring and Monza. It was raced at Kyalami, where Cevert was allowed on the grid 25th, having set his time in the race car - one of the last occasions the rule preventing drivers to set a qualifying time in whichever car they used was put in force. At Silverstone, however, it did not bear the 6T number but instead carried No.43, the '3' replaced by a '2' whenever Stewart (picture by Rob Ryder) took it out for a run. The 005 also ran at Mosport as a third entry for guest driver Chris Amon but it was withdrawn at Watkins Glen after Cevert had fatally crashed. Closing off its brief racing career, Depailler drove 005 for a couple of races at the start of the 1974 season before he got his hands on the new 007. Interestingly, Depailler was also the first driver to gain from being allowed to use a qualifying time set in the spare car.
With Stewart retiring and Cevert gone Tyrrell had to regroup for 1974. Fortunately, Elf did not turn its back on the team, helped by the fact that Ken signed F2 hotshoe Patrick Depailler for the second car. A surprise choice for the lead Tyrrell was the new reigning North American F5000 champion for Trojan, Jody Scheckter. The blindingly fast South African had had a terribly unlucky debut part-season in McLaren's third car, and had come to be known as something as a car wrecker. On the occasions he kept the car on the road, however, Jody outran his far more experienced team mates, and this was what had come to the attention of Ken Tyrrell. With Scheckter, Tyrrell had scouted another World Champion - it wasn't to be with own team, though.
Indeed, the Stewart years remained Tyrrell's greatest years. With Scheckter and Depailler, the team kept winning races, although a lot less frequently, but they could not counter Ferrari's rejuvenated form. Perhaps Tyrrell did not slip backwards as such, but Ferrari lept forward. Then the car with which Tyrrell and Gardner hoped to turn the tide for their fast two youngsters, the P34 six-wheeler, created the team's downfall. First they lost Scheckter to Wolf, but although Ronnie Peterson looked a more than potent replacement, they lost Goodyear's support as well, as the Akron company focused its resources on the new-for-1977 tyre war with Michelin, meaning that development for the P34's tiny front tyres came to a halt. With Elf Team Tyrrell finishing a lowly 6th in the constructors' race that season, their term as a top-notch GP team was effectively over. The disappointment over the effectiveness of the P34 also led to Derek Gardner's departure. He was replaced by Lotus 49 and 72 designer Maurice Philippe, who went back on a more traditional route which ultimately saw Tyrrell slip further down the grid.
Although Depailler took one more win in 1978, taking the Monaco GP in style in the more conservative 008, Tyrrell was unable to attract a top driver, opting for veteran Jean-Pierre Jarier instead, who admittedly had starred in his two appearances for Lotus at the end of 1978. But the 009 proved to be the team's first real dog, and it was a small miracle that the accumulated talent of Pironi and Jarier still managed 28 points among them. Then Elf backed out of its support and average driver Daly was Pironi's replacement, establishing Tyrrell as a solid mid-grid outfit. It stayed that way for an amazing 17 years more until Craig Pollock managed to incur the wrath of ol' Tyrrell by signing Ricardo Rosset instead of Jos Verstappen. It was an unceremonial end to the career of a man who stayed in the sport for so long because he loved it.
1st Reader's Why by Gary Grant
If Peter Revson's F1 career had been a football match, it would probably have been described as the proverbial 'game of two halves'. On the one hand, there were his 1964 efforts in which he did little to dispel the notion that he was just another 'playboy racer'; on the other, there were the accomplished drives of the early seventies, when Peter won 2 races and the respect of the Grand Prix world.
It's easy to see why he would have been dismissed early in his career. For one, he was wealthy - his father was the co-founder of cosmetics giant Revlon (although Peter himself downplayed this connection). For another, his results before the ill-fated tilt at F1 were not great - only a Copenhagen Grand Prix win in a Formula Junior machine amounted to anything like a decent result. This did not deter the determined young American from making the leap to F1, however. Entering his own Lotus 24, a 13th place was all that could be achieved in four races, and his two drives for Reg Parnell's concern were at best, half-hearted.
Thus it was back to the lower formulae, and after some erratic but sporadically inspired performances in F2 and F3, Revson ended his European sejourn in 1966 and headed back to the States. It was to prove an excellent decision. Building up his reputation in Can-Am and Trans-Am, Peter eventually secured a drive at the McLaren Can-Am concern for 1971 and won five races and the championship, as well as finishing second in that year's Indianapolis 500. The only black point in this period was the death of his brother, Douglas, in a crash in Denmark - something which did little to avert his family's distaste for racing.
The Indianapolis performance, where he was also fastest qualifier, brought him to the attentions of Ken Tyrrell, who offered Revson a chance to resurrect his Grand Prix career in the third Tyrrell he was entering for that year's US Grand Prix at Watkins Glen. After a respectable showing, it was a permanent contract at McLaren for the next season, and although that year's McLaren was no match for Fittipaldi's Lotus or Stewart's Tyrrell, Peter confirmed his undoubted ability with 4 podium finishes and a superb pole position at Mosport.
Victories followed the next season, at Silverstone and Mosport again, but a little inconsistency at the season's start meant Peter had to settle for 5th in the Championship for the second year in succession. When Fittipaldi joined McLaren for 1974, Revson moved to Shadow, perhaps relishing the chance to join an American team. Sadly, it was not to be as in only his third race for the team, Peter was killed in a violent crash at Kyalami when his suspension failed.
Writing in Autoweek later, Teddy Mayer described him as "one of the top six drivers in F1". Coming from a man not reknowned for excessive sentimentality, this was high praise indeed.
"Motor racing is a sport like any other. There'll be winners and there'll be losers. It's a game of skill, and if a man makes a mistake, he shouldn't have to die for it" - Peter Revson
2nd Reader's Why by John Cross
"To chisel or not to chisel, that is the question". Or at least that was the question on Derek Gardner's mind as Jackie Stewart battled against the Lotus 72 for the first few of Ken Tyrrell's many years as a GP constructor.
I suppose it all started back in 1968 with the wedge shaped Lotus 56 car at Indianapolis. The wedge shape was a successful attempt to maximise downforce, and the 72 used the same principle. Until the 72 arrived, all the GP cars looked pretty much the same. After the success of the 72 we saw an amazing diversity of shapes in 1971, from the lobster claw Brabham BT34 to the "tea tray" March 711. Matra had a full width nose on their MS120, although it looked fairly conventional. Gardner had started with the distinctive "hammer head" nose, but after wind tunnel tests Tyrrell adopted the sports car nose in the middle of the season (similar to the Porsche 908/3 and Chevron B19 sports cars), which proved very effective in reducing the aerodynamic lift and drag induced by the wide rotating front wheels - indeed it was so effective on the long straight at Paul Ricard that their fuel was checked! Then at Silverstone Stewart's engine was checked for capacity. Amazing!
So of course, other teams had to try these bluff noses - Schenken's BT33 tried one at the Nurburgring then raced it at Austria (to a terrific 3rd place). Surtees tried one at Monza and McLaren had one at Watkins Glen.
It was a manifestation of the Purple Pole syndrome. As one mechanic put it, "This bloke Stewart's been winning and we've all got to pretend it's something on his car, so we copy what he's got. If tomorrow he came along with a long purple pole stuck out the front of his car, by next week we'd all have long purple poles as well!"
In 1972 Surtees retained a bluff nose, McLaren stayed with a conventional nose, March went bluff with the 721X (ho, ho) but chiselled the 721G (based on their F2 car), Brabham went conventional with the BT37. And Tyrrell went for a wedge-shaped body but retained the bluff nose with the 005.
Then in 1973, the bluff/chisel war was split roughly 50/50. BRM, Surtees, March, Ensign, Brabham (sort of - the BT42 had a bit of a lobster claw again) were bluff. McLaren, Shadow and Lotus were chisel. Iso and Ferrari tried different variations, while Tecno had two chassis - a chisel nose Goral and a bluff McCall! And Tyrrell experimented with the 72-style nose seen here. The already delicate car was just too difficult to hold in balance with the chisel nose, and they raced with the familiar bluff nose through the season.
Ironically, after Stewart's retirement and Cevert's tragic death, Gardner abandoned plans for a short wheelbase car and went for a chisel nose on the LWB 007. But then he was back to a bluff nose on the P34 6 wheeler!