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Surtees, Matra MS5 Cosworth SCA, Rouen 1966 (LAT)

Lordy knows how many different bikes and cars the great John Surtees drove in his lengthy career at elite level, on two and four wheels?!…

His brief Matra F2 phase was a new one on me until tripping over some of these photographs whilst researching an article on Matras.

‘Big John’ did two races for Ken Tyrrells ‘Tyrrell Racing Organisation’ in France in July 1966.

Of course he was a man who was contract free after a series of confrontations with his Scuderia Ferrari employers, which, on the balance of probability, cost the pair the 1966 F1 titles and then caused his departure from the team with whom he was champion in 1964. I wrote a feature about Surtees  a while back which covers all of that and a whole lot more.

https://primotipo.com/2014/11/30/john-surtees-world-champion-50-years-ago/

Surtees on his way to winning the notorious 1966 Belgian GP at Spa. The first lap deluge decimated the field, the supremely brave, stupid cine-cameramen are capturing footage for ‘Grand Prix’. Surtees Ferrari 312 won from Rindt and Bandini- Cooper T81 Maser and Ferrari Dino 246 (LAT)

 

Toto Roche moves out of the way at the start of the 1966 French GP- Bandini’s Ferrari 312 is on pole with Surtees Cooper T81 Maserati alongside and out of shot to the right is Parkes in the other works Ferrari. Brabham won from Parkes and Hulme, Brabham BT20 Repco. Surtees and Bandini both DNF. Jack is behind Bandini and Rindt in the white peaked helmet in another T81 Cooper with Graham Hill’s distinctive helmet behind Jochen- BRM P261 (LAT)

Surtees’ last race with Ferrari was the Belgian Grand Prix at Spa on 12 June- he won it. His first with Cooper, was the French Grand Prix at Reims on 3 July.

There his Cooper T81 Maserati failed to finish with problems, (a small shaft driving the mechanical fuel pump sheared on the first lap but he ‘shoved it right up’ Ferrari by popping the unfamiliar and undoubtedly less competitive car second on the grid- behind Bandini’s Ferrari 312 on pole.

In fact, as Denis Jenkinson reported in MotorSport, the time ‘was artificial and could not last, for unaided a Cooper Maserati did not seem likely to break 2:10 seconds’- the time was recorded by way of the slipstreaming efforts of Rindt and Surtees, slotting John in behind the Bandini Ferrari and getting a decent tow before the ruse was picked up by Lorenzo.

Jack Brabham won the race of course and became the first dude to win a GP in a car bearing his own name and of his own (Ron Tauranac and Jack’s Motor Racing Developments) construction.

In addition to his Ferrari F1 and Sportscar commitments Surtees successfully attacked the 1966 Can-Am championship taking the title with three wins at St Jovite, Riverside and Las Vegas aboard a Team Surtees, Lola T70 Mk2 Chev.

But apart from that, the first Can-Am round at Mont Tremblant wasn’t until 11 September, he could take on rides as he saw fit- a couple of F2 races a week apart in France suited him very nicely indeed.

Surtees was offered the ride as Jackie Stewart was badly injured in his BRM P261, Belgian GP shunt, this accident well covered here; https://primotipo.com/2015/02/13/jackie-stewart-at-surfers-paradise-speed-week-1966-brabham-bt11a-climax-and-ferrari-250lm/

Ken Tyrrell ran Coopers in F2 in 1965 (Stewart and Frank Gardner/John Surtees/Bob Bondurant/Chris Amon/Ludovico Scarfiotti- how is that for a variety of drivers in the second car! in Cooper T75 BRM P80’s) and switched to the nascent Matra marque in 1966 when he ran Jacky Ickx and Jackie Stewart as the ‘primary drivers’ in Matra MS5 Cosworth SCA 1 litre machines. That year, out of interest, the drivers when either of the above were unavailable included Surtees, Scarfiotti, Mike Spence and Hubert Hahne.

Tyrrell and Stewart surfed the Matra wave to great effect and mutual benefit of course, winning the 1969 driver and manufacturer titles in the MS80 Ford- an F1 car Stewart rated as one of the best he ever raced. That story is told here;

https://primotipo.com/2016/07/01/matra-ms80-ford/

1966 was the year the Brabham Hondas blitzed the Euro F2 title, Jack and Denny won most of blue-riband events with the best of the Cosworth SCA’s nibbling at their Goodyears- usually the Jochen Rindt driven, Roy Winkelmann entered Brabham. The Brabham Honda story is here; https://primotipo.com/2015/07/30/xxxii-grand-prix-de-reims-f2-july-1966-1-litre-brabham-hondas/

Right from the start the Matras were regarded as jewels of cars deploying the latest in aeronautical technology applied to automotive engineering.

Matra MS5 Cosworth SCA cutaway drawing, technical specifications as per text (J Marsden)

 

Surtees settles himself into the Tyrrell Matra MS5 Cosworth SCA at a chilly Silverstone- thats Ken hovering over his new recruit (Getty)

Surtees had at least one test at Silverstone before journeying to France, given the engineer/racers knowledge of chassis dynamics his view of the car at the time would be interesting if any of you have any first hand accounts of his view of the car?

The twenty-second GP de Reims was run over 37 laps, 307 km on the same 3 July weekend as the French F1 GP and was predictably, on this power circuit, won by Jack Brabham’s Brabham BT18 Honda from Alan Rees in a Winkelmann Brabham BT18 Cosworth SCA and then Jean-Pierre Beltoise in a works MS5 SCA.

There were a large number of MS5’s in the race, John Coomb’s BRM engined car raced by Graham Hill to eleventh, Ickx and Schlesser were non-classified in their Tyrrell Racing Organisation BRM P80 and works SCA engined cars. Rodriguez was a DNF in his works car, also BRM engined with the Surtees SCA powered car out after completing 10 laps with piston failure.

At the end of the weekend the circus decamped from Reims in the Grand Est region, the ‘unofficial capital’ of the Champagne wine growing region, to Rouen, to the West, in Upper Normandy a distance of about 285 Km.

Reims 3 July 1966. Brabham and Hulme in Brabham BT18 Hondas, Rindt on the inside, Brabham BT18 Cosworth and Surtees Matra MS5 SCA on the outside, then Alan Rees, Brabham BT18 Cosworth (LAT)

The entry was a little smaller than the week before- 21 cars started rather than 24 cars, the Matra marque represented by five cars- works entries for Schlesser and JPB, Tyrrell cars for Ickx and Surtees and the Coombs entry for Hill.

Surtees started on row two with Graham Hill- the two Matras together, with Brabham, Hulme and Rindt up front.

JPB hit Rindt up the clacker going into the Nouveau Monde hairpin on the first lap and spread-eagled the field. Denny worked his way up to second behind Jack whilst Beltoise, sans nose, Rindt and Rees also sought to make up lost ground but JPB retired with a leaking radiator and Rindt with a wrecked Hewland.

‘With six laps to go Brabham (in the lead) failed to appear, his Honda engine having blown up, though he said his gear-lever had broke! (Crankshaft was more like it)…Hulme was just behind so he was able to take over the lead…Rodriguez had been running steadily in the Ron Harris Lotus and gaining places as the faster drivers ran into trouble and he passed Hill and Surtees to take third as the ex-Ferrari driver’s Matra-Cosworth expired and the BRM ex-World Champion struggled along in a sick Matra BRM’ wrote Denis Jenkinson.

Denny Hulme won the 46 lap 301 km race from Alan Rees’ Brabham, Pedro Rodriguez in the Ron Harris-Team Lotus, SCA engined Lotus 44, Hill who was fifth, Trevor Blokdyk in the other Harris entry Lotus 44 SCA sixth- Surtees was classified seventh falling one lap short of the distance with differential failure.

Surtees raced a Lola for the Midland Racing Partnership once in 1966 and ran a full F2 campaign in a Lola T100 Ford FVA with the change to the 1.6 litre formula from 1 January 1967.

Matra’s relentless march to F1 continued- and they achieved Formula 2 success with many race wins and Euro F2 titles for Jacky Ickx in 1967 aboard MS5 and MS7 Ford FVA, Jean-Pierre Beltoise in 1968, MS7 FVA and Johnny Servoz-Gavin in 1969 MS7 FVA.

Jackie Stewart at Silverstone during the ‘BARC 200′ Wills Trophy Euro F2 round on March 27 1967. He raced his Tyrrell MS5 Ford FVA 1.6 to 5th behind the two Winkelmann Brabham BT23 FVA’s of Rindt and Alan Rees, Surtees’ Lola T100 FVA and Bruce McLaren’s McLaren M4A FVA. The Lotus 48’s were non-classified. There was lots of depth in the 1967 F2 fields. JPB gave the new Matra MS7 its race debut at Rouen on 9 July- Ickx used both MS5 and MS7 chassis to win the Euro F2 Championship that year from Frank Gardner’s Brabham BT23 and BT23C FVA and JPB. ‘Graded driver’, Jochen Rindt did most of the winning but was not eligible for championship points

The Early Matras…

Writing about Surtees in 1966 sort of begs the question of what went before that, context is all!

Treat this as nothing more than a summary- I am just skimming the tops of the waves, this is not anything of depth but rather a bit of a teaser for a more comprehensive piece in the future on the early cars built by Matra.

 

Whilst in French, you can probably get the gist of the car specifications from the drawing above.

Matra enthusiast Gerard Gamand on The Nostalgia Forum provides useful information on the production numbers of these early Matras.

He cites 4 cars built in 1965, two each of MS1 and MS2.

The car was designed by Paul Carillo and was based on the Rene Bonnett F2 design- Matra took over the ailing concern, which became Matra Sports.

Most of you would know the Matra monocoque chassis, drawing upon aerospace techniques was fabricated in such a tight and accurate manner, ‘that fuel bag-tanks were not required as the tub was leak proof. This technique meant that lateral bracing to the tub was possible giving it a very high degree of stiffness’ f3.history.co.uk report.

Matra MS5 chassis (G Gamand)

The chassis above is identified as an MS5- the one below an F3/F2 tub bit i am not sure which. Regardless the in-build shot is interesting.

(autodiva)

The MS2 was a ‘long chassis’ development of the MS1.

MS1 was an immediate success with most of the teams focus naturally enough on French events in 1965.

Jean-Pierre Jaussaud was first entered for the Prix de Paris at Montlhery on 23 May 1965 in an MS1, but did not arrive.

The cars baptism of fire was at the biggest international event of the year- the 29 May Monaco F3 GP won by Peter Revson’s Ron Harris entered Lotus 35 Ford Holbay.

MS1’s were entered for JPJ and Eric Offenstadt- Eric DNF’d his heat so missed the final, whilst Jaussaud was tenth in his heat and fifteenth in the final.

Jean-Pierre Beltoise took the first marque win at Reims on July 4- the ‘Coupe Internationale de Vitesse de Formula 3’ support race for the Reims F2 GP.

Reims 1965, the first Matra win- Jean-Pierre Beltoise, Matra MS1 Ford (unattributed)

 

(Matra)

By the end of the season, JPB had taken another win at Cognac on 25 July and JPJ wins in the Coupe de Paris at Monthlery on 17 September and the Coupe de Vitesse at Albi a week later.

Together with points scored for their placings Beltoise and Jaussaud were first and second in the 1965 French F3 Championship- the nascent marque was away…

Whilst the F3 campaign continued, as Rene Bonnett was absorbed by Matra, their Djet (Jet) evolved into a Matra Djet with Matra boss Jean-Luc Lagarde hiring Bernard Boyer- French FJ Champion in 1961, to develop a prototype rallycar for the Tour de Corse, which now can perhaps be seen as the precursor of the sports prototypes which followed.

The resultant MS3/M610 was a Lotus-Ford twin-cam engined closed sportscar which used the Djet as a base but incorporated a new chassis designed by Boyer. Its frst outing was the 1965 26/27 November Criterium des Cevennes Rally driven by Phillipe Farjon and Johnny Servoz-Gavin.

Matra Djet 6 cop-car in December 1965

These forays into Rallying continued before the 1966 racing program got underway wrote Ed McDonough in ‘Matra Sports Cars’.

The MS4/M620 was a 1966 sports prototype powered by a BRM P60 2 litre V8, the gearbox a ZF, 5-speed transaxle- a later variant was powered by a 4.7 litre Ford pushrod V8.

Designed by Jean Hebert it used a spaceframe chassis rather than the now familiar type of Matra monocoque- the BRM engine required a new clutch and 40 amp alternator. The new car was ready by November 1965 but first made its public appearance at the 1966 Le Mans test weekend in April.

Actress Joanna Shimkus takes time out from filming ‘Les Aventuriers’ to show the lines of the MS5 to good effect in September 1966. Note rocker front and traditional outboard mounted spring/dampers at the rear- period typical. Montlhery? Former actress now wife of Sir Sidney Poitier and mother of actress Sydney Tamiliar Poitier

For the 1966 season 12 MS5 chassis were made- 6 each to F3 and F2 specifications.

The build for 1967 totalled 6 cars. Three each MS6 F3 and  MS7 F2. The MS6 was a modified version of the MS5 with wheel and suspension geometry changes to take advantage of the latest in tyre developments

Pau GP April 1969, JPB in the bi-winged Matra MS7 Ford FVA- second, 1 minute behind Rindt’s Lotus 59B FVA (unattributed)

In 1968 a further four MS7’s were built, all were F2 cars built to accept the ‘class standard’ 1.6 litre 210bhp Ford Cosworth FVA engine.

The MS8/M630 was a 1967 BRM V8 engined Group 6 sports-racer coupe.

Many of the cars mentioned in this listing were raced by Johnny Servoz-Gavin, so check out my article on him for photographs; https://primotipo.com/2016/09/02/johnnys-talbot/

Stewart, Clark, Rindt, Surtees Kyalami 1968. Matra MS9 Ford, Lotus 49 Ford, Brabham BT24 Repco and Honda RA300. Its somehat poignant in its majesty- if that is the right word to describe the busy scene of South African enthusiasts thronging this magnificent, challenging racetrack. Clark took his last championship GP win that weekend, his very last was the Tasman Formula, Australian Grand Prix at Sandown Park on 25 February aboard a Lotus 49 Ford DFW 2.5- he won a ripper of a race of 105 miles prevailing over Chris Amon’s Ferrari Dino 246T by one tenth of a second. Clark won in South Africa from teammate Hill and Rindt. Stewart retired after completing 43 laps with conrod failure from grid 3 (LAT)

It may be a tangent too far, but the first F1 Matra, the 1968 Ford Cosworth engined MS9 raced by Tyrrell/Jackie Stewart as a ‘whoosh-bonk’, to use the Bruce McLaren words to describe a quick lash-up, stop-gap early 1968 car used a modified F2 MS7 chassis- with suspension from the MS630 sportscar and a Hewland DG300 gearbox. That car, in brief, is covered in the Matra MS80 article linked above.

For the sake of completeness I also wrote a couple of articles about the MS120 F1 cars here; https://primotipo.com/2014/07/06/venetia-day-and-the-1970-matra-ms120/

and here; https://primotipo.com/2015/12/13/venetia-days-matra-ms120/

Keith Duckworth on his Cosworth SCA 1 litre F2 engine…

Lets get back to where we started, the Matra MS5- in particular the engine which powered the Surtees chassis.

‘It might not have been right, but we had to make it work. It won the F2 Championships of 1964 and 1965…and…until the Honda engine of 1966 with four valves and twin overhead camshafts, tungsten carbide rockers and torsion bar valve springs appeared in Jack Brabham’s cars. We’d run out of breathing at 11,000 rpm so we obviously needed more valve area. That’s what started me thinking about 4-valve heads’.

‘Mike Costin  and I exercised great ingenuity- we had ports that curved around, we had the piston of the week with every kind of shape, dint and odd hole- but the combustion was not good, the mixture never burned properly’.

All the same, the dominant F2 engine of 1964 and 1965 did rather well producing between 115 bhp @ 8700 rpm in its original Weber 40 IDF carburettor form and in ultimate 1966 spec, Lucas injected form, 143 bhp.

Good ole Ford 5 bearing 116E block. Single, (train of seven gears) gear driven overhead camshaft, two valves per cylinder , Cosworth rods and pistons, Laystall steel crank. 997cc- 81mm x 48.35mm bore-stroke.

SCB variant 1498cc 175 bhp – 3 engines only built including the Brabham BT21B raced by ex-Brabham mechanic Bob Ilich in Western Australia

SCC variant 1098cc 135 bhp for North American sportscar racing

Click here for an article about the Lotus 35- and the Cosworth SCA and a little on the P80 BRM unit- the excerpt above is from this piece; https://primotipo.com/2017/11/06/jim-clark-lotus-35-and-the-cosworth-sca-f2-engine/

Matra MS80 Ford cutaway in part. The 1969 World Championship machine (unattributed)

Credits…

LAT, MotorSport, oldracingcars.com, John Marsden, Gerard Gamand Collection, ‘Matra Sports Cars’ Ed McDonough, oldracingcars.com

Tailpiece: Hang on sonny…

(unattributed)

John Surtees giving his Tyrrell Racing Organisation teammate, Jacky Ickx a ride back to the paddock at the Circuit de Reim-Guex on the July 3 weekend- both drivers failed to finish the race.

Finito…

 

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1981 Williams FW07D Ford (P D’Alessio)

I’d forgotten about the speed of Patrick Head’s Williams 6-wheelers and what a serious attempt they were to address the teams position in 1981/82. And the rule changes to ban them such was their apparent speed…

Williams couldaa-wouldaa-shouldaa won World Titles in 1979 and 1981 to go with the ‘Jones Boys’ win in 1980.

In ’79 the ground-effect FW07 arrived late and took a while to find the reliability to go with its speed apparent from the start. In 1981 team orders and more ‘cooperation’ between Jones and Reutemann would have secured a title for one of them instead of ‘none’ of them.

The two ‘numero-unos’ caper seldom works does it? I am a Buddhist in some ways but I still love the way ole AJ totally crushed Lole at Vegas in that last round ’81 championship showdown. Sheer force of will and balls. Attributes the ebullient, combative Balwyn Boy had in spades.

By late 1981 the turbo teams were finding reliability to go with their speed. Renault only missed out on the ’81 title because of unreliability, Ferrari were new to the turbo game but the engine was great even if the chassis was not. Brabham had formed a partnership with BMW. The best of the Cosworth runners was the McLaren MP4, which, with the very first carbon-fibre chassis was putting to the road all the venerable DFV had to offer. Maranello unsurprisingly knocked back William’s request for a customer Ferrari V6 turbo.

What to do was the question the Didcot hierachy faced as the FW07 series of cars were at the end of their development cycle?

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Alan Jones, Wlliams FW07D Ford, referred to as FW07E also, Donington Park, November 1981 (Sutton)

To make things worse, Alan Jones made a very late call to quit GP racing and become a farmer. He bought a property at Glenburn, in the Kinglake/Yea area of Victoria forcing the Williams team to shop around on the second-hand driver market. The population difference of 250 people in Glenburn and greater London’s many millions is a change in domicile of some scale! Frank and Patrick eventually signed Keke Rosberg to partner Carlos Reutemann. It turned out to be rather a good choice.

Patrick Head set upon two design paths in parallel; the FW07 replacement ‘FW08’ and a six-wheeler project. By mixing the two projects, Head accounted for the six-wheeled concept in the FW08 design. The FW08’s wheelbase was kept short to accommodate the addition of four-wheel-rear-drive, its short wheelbase is partially the explanation of FW08’s stubby looks.

What follows is a truncated version of a great 8W: Forix article on six-wheelers, click on the link at the end of this article for an excellent summary of six-wheelers starting with the 1948 Pat Clancy Special and finishing with the 1982 Williams FW08D. In addition I have drawn on the recollections of the Williams six-wheeler designer, Frank Dernie in a MotorSport article.

The Williams six-wheel configuration would be four smaller driven wheels at the back in a direct effort to improve straightline speed by getting rid of the big aerodynamically inefficient rear tyres and improve traction out of corners due to the increased rubber contact. A bonus was to allow the free flow of air along the sidepods all the way to the rear axle of the car.

‘As ground effects were permitted within the wheelbase of the car, Head cunningly interpreted this rule as being from front axle to the most rearward axle! In Head’s mind, these would be ground effects perfection. The leading rear axle was placed four inches ahead of its original place, with the driveshafts angled to cope. The most rearward axle was driven by an additional final drive added on the back of the transmission. Hewland provided assistance on the gearbox, using vital experience gained from Roy Lane’s March 2-4-0 hillclimber’ which you will recall was also two wheels up front and four down the back.

Jones briefly tested the car at Donington Park in November 1981 shortly after winning at Las Vegas, but still decided against continuing his GP career. Its said the weather was so cold in Leicestershire that day that Jones had to pour hot water on his Jaguar door locks to get into his car. It’s not that the concept of the six-wheeler was poor, simply that AJ needed a break.

He returned to Australia to race Formula Pacific and Sportscars but was back to Grand Prix racing soon enough, his decision to opt for the bucolic pleasures of country life in Australia was premature.

‘In November 1981, at a cool but sunny Paul Ricard Keke Rosberg climbed aboard the six-wheeled FW07 hack, which for reference purposes we shall call the FW07E, as its reported name (‘FW07D’) later became the designation for the regular 1982 FW07.

Reports in Autosprint magazine led everyone to believe that Keke’s times at Ricard were unusually fast indeed, although many warned not to read too much into winter testing times. However, Alain Prost’s lap record of 1.04.5 had been set on October 26, just two weeks before Keke and his FW07D/E lowered it to 1.04.3 on November 7.

Jonathan Palmer also tested the car at Croix-en-Ternois in the North of France to see what its performance would be like on a tight and twisty track, and matched the times set by the regular FW07C.

Eventually though, the FW07D/E wasn’t used in racing as the team found a major obstacle to its ‘perfect’ ground effects – the lower wishbones of the rear suspension.

So Head decided on incorporating this dilemma into the design of the FW08, which as stated above was predesigned to accommodate six wheels. The FW08 solution used fixed-length driveshafts that would be used as lateral lower location members as well, thus freeing the underwing tunnels from any obstruction’.

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Williams FW08 Ford 1982: Aluminium honeycomb monocoque chassis, wishbone and rocker pullrod suspension at front and wisbones and rockers at rear, coil spring dampers, Ford Cosworth 3 litre DFV V8- about 490 bhp @ 10750 rpm in ’82 spec, Hewland FGA400 5 speed box (P D’Alessio)

1982 Season…

‘Buoyed by the performance of the latest FW07 regular development, the FW07D, the team started the season with this car, ‘Lole’ immediately taking second after the super-license affair at Kyalami, with Rosberg fifth.

While the politics continued unabated in Brazil, Williams were confronted by Reutemann’s shock retirement from racing but lifted by Rosberg’s strong second place at Long Beach, yet still behind Niki Lauda in McLaren’s miracle chassis.

The Imola boycott allowed the team to prepare two FW08s for Zolder where there was more drama in store for the Grand Prix community. With the Renaults faltering yet again, Keke grabbed another second place, this time following home John Watson in the other MP4/1’.

‘In the following races Rosberg and new team mate Derek Daly continued to be beaten by the McLaren and the Brabham BT49D, while the turbo-engined Brabham won its first race.

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Williams Team FW08’s in the Detroit paddock June 1982 Derek Daly 5th behind his car. Rosberg was 4th, the race won by the carbon-fibre McLaren MP4 Ford of John Watson (unattributed)

In France, turbos finished one-two-three-four.

Obviously unaware of the final Championship result, the Williams team then pressed on with its six-wheeler project and during the summer of 1982 a new car surfaced.

This time an adapted FW08-01 codenamed FW08D, hit the Donington Park track. Its four wheel drive times were stunning. In fact, they were so good that the FIA issued their 1983 regulations including a clause that outlawed six-wheelers and four-wheel drive’.

Frank Dernie spoke of his FW08 six-wheeler design in MotorSport.

‘The biggest problem with traditional ground-effect cars is that the downforce is generated a very long  way forward so you need a draggy rear wing to balance it. The big plus with the six-wheeler was that its side-pods ran comfortably inside the narrow rear tyres, right to the back.’

‘I managed a sufficiently rearward centre of pressure, without too much loss of the underbody, to do away with wings; the car had a slotted-flap type underbody, part of it around the exhaust, part of it in the normal place. I couldn’t have done that with a four-wheeled car. When skirts have to stop ahead of the rear tyres, you’re knackered’.

‘The lift to drag ratio of FW08 was 8.2, and the FW08B six-wheeler was not much more…But the final quarter scale model of the six-wheeler that would have gone into production had a lift to drag of 13 point something’. With neither front nor rear wing, any necessary trimming was to be supplied by a Gurney type flap at the bodywork’s rear’.

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Keke Rosberg aboard FW08D in 1982 (LAT)

Keke Rosberg, Jacques Laffitte, Jonathon Palmer and Tony Trimmer all tested FW08B as late as October 1982.

‘It was quite progressive’ said Palmer. ‘It was great fun to throw around, to get a bit sideways, because instead of one wheel losing grip, and, therefore losing 50% of your grip, if one wheel lost grip you still had three others giving you some grip’. The car showed promise on all types of track from the high speed sweeps of Silverstone to the twists of Croix en-Ternois.

Dernie again ‘Patrick was sure that the only limitation would be, with four driven wheels pointing straight ahead, masses of power understeer. But after only a few laps of ‘Croix, Laffitte admitted he had forgotten it was a six-wheeler’.

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Jolly Jacques aboard FW08D at Crois en-Ternois in 1982 (unattributed)

‘If you get the weight distribution right for the tyres and make sure the aero is consistent, there is no reason why it wouldn’t feel like any normal racing car. To get the ultimate from it, though, tyres  specific to the rear would have been required. At that time however, we were just running six fronts’.

In a busy time for Williams GP Engineering Dernie was actively assessing active suspension, Rosberg was stringing together a consistent run in one of F1 nuttiest seasons, FW was courting Honda as an engine provider and as a result the six-wheeler slipped down the priority list.

‘We didn’t expect it to be banned. Though we thought that maybe it would be after everyone saw how quick it was’.

‘We didn’t have sufficient time or money to bring it to fruition. We only had one Hewland gearbox, for example. Its casing was completely different because the suspension mounts were different. The gear linkage was unique too. We would have to have made lots of new bits before racing it, and inevitably it was going to be a heavier than a normal car’.

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Sibling similarity between four and six wheelers clear in this Monaco 1982 shot of Rosberg’s FW08, DNF collision. Ricardo Patrese won in a Brabham BT49 Ford (unattributed)

Williams’ efforts had come to nought. And with Keke suddenly picking up one useful placing after the other – outpacing the unreliable McLarens in the process – and taking his debut win at Dijon, the Didcot team stopped having reasons for arguing too strongly with the FIA. And they had their negotiations with Honda going on anyway.

8W:Forix ‘Joining them – as Lotus had done, as McLaren would ultimately do – instead of beating them became the new motto for the new Formula 1 era. It had no place for six-wheelers, just as it refused four-wheel driven turbine cars. Many years later, at the 1995 Festival of Speed, the Williams FW08D turned out one more time in the hands of Jonathan Palmer. On the hill at Goodwood it showed why it was outlawed before it got the chance to show it was a winner. The doctor comfortably set an FTD that was only narrowly beaten by Nick Heidfeld four years later, in a pukka 1998 McLaren’.

‘Today the answer to the question is simple again. ‘What does a racing car look like?’ It’s got four wheels and a steering wheel, with the engine in the back driving the rear wheels. Apparently, the 21st century is no time for playing around in another ballpark. Or it must be in The Thunderbirds.’

The last sentence says everything that is wrong about modern F1 of course- the sameness of the cars as a consequence of rules which are way too prescriptive.

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FW08D, Paul Ricard 1982- four driven wheels. This shot shows just how long and far back those ground effect tunnels extend! (unattributed)

Bibliography…

http://www.forix.com/8w/sixwheelers.html

MotorSport March 2017

 Photo Credits…

Paulo D’Alessio, Sutton, Pinterest, LAT, F1 Fanatic

Etcetera: Williams FW08D Ford Goodwood 2012…

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Top rear, rear! suspension shot- beautiful magnesium upright, lower wishbone, top rocker, G/E tunnel, fixed skirt, wonderful (F1 Fanatic)

Tailpiece: Williams FW08B Ford 1982- F1’s last six-wheeler, last 4WD…

 

 

 

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Everyone in Victoria particularly, if you see or hear anything about Rohans car or componentry; chassis, Golf race engine, Mk9 Hewland etc please get in touch with me, many thanks, mark…

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