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The Beginning in a Woodshed

The Tyrrell Racing Organization has one of the most remarkable origin stories in Formula One history. Run by the skilled talent scout Ken Tyrrell, the team began operating in 1968 out of a small woodshed in Surrey, England with only a handful of staff including the drivers.

Despite the humble beginnings, Tyrrell secured a partnership with the French manufacturer Matra to supply chassis while Tyrrell ran the rest of the operations. With Jackie Stewart behind the wheel, the Matra-Tyrrell partnership enjoyed immense success right out of the gate. In their debut 1968 season, Stewart grabbed 3 race wins and finished 2nd in the championship. The following year Stewart won 6 races to easily claim the driver’s title, with Matra-Tyrrell also winning the constructor’s championship in only their second ever season.

Throughout the 463 race starts between 1968 and 1998, Tyrell secured 1 Constructors’ Championship, 3 Drivers’ Championships, 33 race wins, 19 pole positions and 27 fastest laps.

Building Their Own Car

Following disputes with Matra in 1970, Tyrrell made the bold decision to become a full constructor by building his own chassis. Still operating out of the small woodshed facility, Tyrrell designer Derek Gardner remarkably drew up the plans for their first car – the Tyrrell 001 – on his kitchen table.

The 001 showed promise despite suffering from reliability issues in its debut races in 1970. For 1971, Tyrrell rolled out the improved 002 and 003 models. With Jackie Stewart behind the wheel, the 003 was immediately successful, winning on only its fifth race appearance in Tyrrell’s constructor debut in Spain. It was a sign of the legendary success to come.

First Constructor’s Titles

In the 1971 season, Jackie Stewart battled hard with the Ferraris and ultimately proved victorious, winning his second world championship while securing Tyrrell’s first driver’s title. The Tyrrell 003 that Stewart drove to 6 more wins that year also helped power Tyrrell to a fairy tale constructor’s championship in their debut full season running their own car.

The following 1972 season was more challenging. Stewart battled illness and finished second while Tyrrell fell to second in the constructor’s race. But in 1973, Stewart secured his third title in the new Tyrrell 006 before retiring at the end of the season. The early years saw Jackie Stewart completely dominate while driving for Tyrrell, securing all three of his world championships with the team built by his mentor, Ken Tyrrell.

The Six-Wheeled P34

Never afraid to innovate, Tyrrell and designed Derek Gardner introduced one of the most radical and legendary cars in F1 history – the unique six-wheeled Tyrrell P34. Featuring 4 smaller front wheels for added grip and the normal 2 rear wheels for power delivery from the Cosworth V8 engine, the revolutionary design was rolled out for the 1976 season.

While not reaching the full potential they had hoped for, the P34 proved reasonably successful and competitive. Jody Scheckter took the car’s lone victory at the 1976 Swedish Grand Prix, but achieved several podium finishes that helped Tyrrell beat most rivals to finish 3rd in the constructor’s title race.

Tyrrell campaigned an updated P34B model in 1977, but results fell away as the car proved less effective under new regulations banning ground effects. Nevertheless, the six-wheeled Tyrrell P34 remains one of the most legendary and radical innovations in F1 history – a symbol of Tyrrell and Ken’s constant desire to push boundaries and never be afraid to try new things.

The Final Years 

Following their incredible early success, Tyrrell racing remained a respected midfield team for many years. There were occasional race wins and glimpses of promise with talented drivers like Michele Alboreto, Stefan Bellof, and Martin Brundle behind the wheel. But the front running days soon faded as costs skyrocketed and Tyrrell struggled to keep pace with manufacturer-backed outfits through the 80’s and 90’s.

Fan favorite Jean Alesi brought some inspiration in 1990 with his drive from P12 to lead the US Grand Prix, battling the great Ayrton Senna along the way. But it proved to be one last bright spot as Tyrrell descended towards the back of the grid over the next years as funding dwindled.

With a heavy heart, Ken Tyrrell finally sold the team in 1998 to interests that became the new BAR team and eventually morphed into the Mercedes juggernaut we know today. While the end was sad for this historic outfit, no one can deny the sheer legend and inspiration surrounding those early glory years. From building a world champion in a small home workshop to revolutionizing F1 with six wheels, Tyrrell Racing’s legacy lives on as one of sports most remarkable underdog success stories.

BEST Tyrrell Drivers

Some of the most talented drivers in F1 history spent time behind the wheel of a Tyrrell. Here are just a few of the many legendary names:

  • Jackie Stewart – 3x World Champion (1969, 1971, 1973)
  • Francois Cevert
  • Jody Scheckter – 1979 World Champion
  • Patrick Depailler
  • Didier Pironi
    Jos Verstappen
  • Michele Alboreto – Tyrrell’s Last Winner (Detroit 1983)
  • Stefan Bellof
  • Martin Brundle
  • Jean Alesi
  • Mark Blundell
  • Mika Salo

With current strict regulations and technical rules, no team will ever be able to create such innovative car as Tyrell. Throughout their history in Formula 1, they proved to be one of the most memorable teams. Most of the constructors can only dream about scoring a Constructors’ championship, while Tyrell did it in the first full season of their self developed car.

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