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Patrick Depailler P34 Race Summaries

Written by Jay Walker. Posted in P34 Drivers

The following summaries detail all of Patrick's races in the Tyrrell P34 six wheeler between 1976 and 1977. My thanks goes to Marius Matthee for compiling and sending me this information. ( I hope to add a corresponding photo to each summary in the near future)


 

2 May 1976 Jarama - Spanish Grand Prix

 

Car : Tyrrell P34/2
Entrant : Elf Team Tyrrell
Grid : 3
Result : did not finish (brakes/accident – lap 26)

 
The Spanish GP saw the arrival of the new six-wheel Tyrrell P34 in the hands of Depailler. Apart from the four 10 inch diameter front wheels and the numerous detailed features that had to be incorporated, the monocoque that extended to the rear wheels was similar to that of the 007 models, with the water radiators mounted on each side. A lower air-box replaced the original taller one on the prototype, to fit in with the new rules.
 
In the qualifying sessions for the race, Patrick was very happy with the performance of the car and he found it quick in a straight line and very stable through the corners. He was amongst the fastest runners throughout these sessions and in the end he qualified in 3rd position. During the race he was running in third place for the first 20 laps, but then the car ran into brake problems when the brake fluid began to overheat. On lap 26 he spun into catch fencing when the brakes completely failed on the approach to a corner. It was a disappointing end, but there was enough optimism within the team after the car’s promising debut.
 

16 May 1976 Zolder - Belgium Grand Prix

 
Car : Tyrrell P34/2
Entrant : Elf Team Tyrrell
Grid : 4
Result : did not finish (engine – lap 30)
 
After the six-wheeler’s promising debut at Jarama, it came as no surprise when the team brought along P34’s for both Jody and Patrick. Depailler’s car was repaired following his excursion into the catch fences at the previous race and he was again quick in practice. He qualified in 4th position. After the start he slipped back to fifth position. A nice battle took place between himself and Laffite for fourth place. On lap 30, though, Patrick had to retire with a blown engine.
 

30 May 1976 Monte Carlo - Monaco Grand Prix

 
Car : Tyrrell P34/2
Entrant : Elf Team Tyrrell
Grid : 4
Result : 3
 
The P34’s looked brilliant in practice. They seemed to get around the tight corners with uncanny ease in comparison to the other cars. After the first session Patrick were heading the timetables with Scheckter being second fastest. In the second practice session Patrick suffered a stripped second gear and he had to switch to the spare 007 model. This robbed him of setting an even better time and in the end he had to be satisfied with fourth position on the grid.
 
Depailler was racing in fourth position for the first 14 laps, but he then suffered a broken rear right crossbeam. This made the wheel cock in and it thus affected the car’s handling. This dropped him to fifth place, after he let Scheckter through. When both Regazzoni and Peterson slipped on some oil on the 27th lap, Patrick benefited from it all. He was now in third position, behind the leader, Lauda, and teammate Scheckter. Regazzoni later passed him again, but when the Swiss driver retired on lap 74 following a collision with a guardrail, Patrick was again in third place. Depailler held on to this position until the end of the race, even though his rear wheel was leaning in even more towards the final few laps.
 

13 June 1976 Anderstorp - Swedish Grand Prix

 
Car : Tyrrell P34/2
Entrant : Elf Team Tyrrell
Grid : 4
Result : 2
 
Depailler was again fastest in the first practice round. He measured a top speed of 178 mph on the straight and the car also had good grip into the corners. In the later sessions he dropped back and eventually set fourth fastest time. Scheckter had a brilliant run and claimed the first ever pole position for a six-wheel car.
 
Andrettit took the lead with Scheckter in hot pursuit and Patrick in third place. This was the pattern until the 46th lap when Andretti’s engine blew up. The Tyrrell drivers thus took over first end second positions in the race. At the chequered flag, Jody was still in front, with Depailler 20 seconds behind his teammate. It was a terrific result for Tyrrell and all of a sudden the other teams considered the P34 as a serious threat.
 

4 July 1976 Paul Ricard - French Grand Prix

 
Car : Tyrrell P34/2
Entrant : Elf Team Tyrrell
Grid : 3
Result : 2
 
The French crowd was entertained by yet another impressive performance by Patrick in the build up to the race. Somehow, though, the Tyrrell was not as fast as expected down the long Mistral straight. He nevertheless was still able to clinch third spot on the starting grid. At the start he lost one place to Regazzoni and on the next lap Peterson also passed him, which meant that Depailler was in fifth position. Lauda soon retired from the race with engine failure and by lap 11, Depailler got by Peterson to take up third place again. Then on lap 18 Regazzoni was also out when he spun off the circuit, due to engine failure. Patrick was now second. At the end of the race he was still in this position, albeit 12 seconds behind the winner, James Hunt.
 

18 July 1976 Brands Hatch - British Grand Prix

 
Car : Tyrrell P34/2
Entrant : Elf Team Tyrrell
Grid : 5
Result : did not finish (engine – lap 48)
 
The Tyrrells were fitted with larger Perspex windows and stronger front suspension. Patrick qualified in 5th position in a rather uneventful practice session for him. The start of the race was quite chaotic, when contact between the Ferraris at the first corner, resulted in cars spinning and others trying to take avoiding action. Lauda got through the melee to lead from Patrick. The race was however stopped due to the debris that littered the circuit. 
 
Shortly after the restart, Depailler spun his car at Druids Bend. He made it back to the pits for a quick inspection and when he rejoined the race after this, he was running way down the order. In an effort to gain the lost ground, he set fifth fastest time during the race, but it was to no avail when he had to retire when his engine blew up.
 

1 August 1976 Nürburgring - German Grand Prix

 
Car : Tyrrell P34/2
Entrant : Elf Team Tyrrell
Grid : 3
Result : did not finish (collision – lap 1)
 
Depailler put in a great effort during practice to qualify in third place for the race. He found that the six-wheeler handled particularly well on the twisting and most demanding circuit. He made a very bad start, though, and was passed by several cars. The race was stop after Lauda’s accident on the second lap. At the restart Patrick crept up to fourth position, but all hopes of success were eliminated when he touched a rear wheel of Regazzoni’s Ferrari, after it had spun in front of him near the end of the first lap. Depailler ended up in the catch fencing and that brought an immediate end to his race.
 

15 August 1976 Osterreichring - Austrian Grand Prix

 
Car : Tyrrell P34/2
Entrant : Elf Team Tyrrell
Grid : 13
Result : did not finish (suspension – lap 25)
 
Practise was disrupted by rain over the weekend and only the first of the timed sessions were dry. Patrick could only set 13th fastest time in the dry on Friday morning and with a wet circuit during the remaining sessions, there was no chance of improving on this. He did brave the wet weather on Friday afternoon and set the fastest time of the divers that committed themselves to the treacherous conditions. The race got off in rainy conditions as well and on the second lap Brambilla spun his March in front of Depailler. There was light contact between the two cars and Brambilla’s car lost its nosepiece. Patrick could go no better than 10th place during the race and retired his car on lap 25 with an apparent front suspension failure.
 

29 August 1976 Zandvoort - Dutch Grand Prix

 
Car : Tyrrell P34
Entrant : Elf Team Tyrrell
Grid : 14
Result : 7
 
It was a closely fought out practice session and after it was completed, the first 14 cars on the grid were separated by less than one second. The Tyrrell was quite a handful on Zandvoort’s combination of fast sweeps and hairpins and Patrick had to be satisfied with his 14th position on the grid. In the opening laps there was slight contact between Depailler and Laffite. The Tyrrell was not affected, but the steering on Laffite’s car was bent. Patrick found himself in mid-field for most of the race and was rewarded with 7th position at the end.
 

12 September 1976 Monza - Italian Grand Prix

 
Car : Tyrrell P34/2
Entrant : Elf Team Tyrrell
Grid : 4
Result : 6
 
Patrick claimed fourth position on the grid after the Tyrrells ran well in practice. Early in the race he held third position behind Scheckter and Peterson. Ronnie took the lead on lap 11 and Patrick also managed to pass Scheckter two laps later to claim second position. After that Depailler put some great pressure on the Swedish driver and on several occasions they were racing side by side. On the 32nd lap he managed to scramble pass the March, but he only led briefly before Peterson passed him again. More attempts followed to take the lead, but Peterson determinedly defended his lead. Within the next couple of laps, Depailler’s car unfortunately developed a misfire. His ailing car was passed by several other drivers and he finished 6th eventually.
 

3 October 1976 Mosport - Canadian Grand Prix

 
Car : Tyrrell P34/2
Entrant : Elf Team Tyrrell
Grid : 4
Result : 2
 
A good run in practice saw Patrick starting the race in fourth position. He squeezed through into third position at the first corner after the start of the race. On lap 13 he successfully got pass Peterson to occupy second position. Depailler then was in hot pursuit of the leader, James Hunt. The Tyrrell was fractionally quicker around the circuit, but Hunt kept his advantage by dealing better with the traffic. Near the end of the race, Patrick had to slow down dramatically, when fumes from a fuel leak nearly brought him to the brink of unconsciousness. In his hunt for first place, he set the fastest lap of the race. Although James Hunt was a deserving winner, the real star of the race was Depailler. He was also awarded the Etienne Aigner award, by showing the best fighting spirit.
 

10 October 1976 Watkins Glen - United States Grand Prix (East)

 
Car : Tyrrell P34/2
Entrant : Elf Team Tyrrell
Grid : 7
Result : did not finish (fuel line – lap 8)
 
The early Friday practice session was held in wet conditions and Depailler was fifth fastest. During the afternoon session he had a lucky escape when Hunt’s Mclaren dropped its starter-motor’s air cylinder right into the path of the closely following Tyrrell. It severely damaged the two left front wheels and also bent the front suspension of the car. Patrick was fortunately not hurt in this incident. The bent suspension hindered his progress during the remainder of the practice session and he had to settle with seventh position on the grid. Patrick was in fifth position when he had to retire on only the 8th lap with a disconnected fuel pipe.
 

24 October 1976 Mount Fuji - Japanese Grand Prix

 
Car : Tyrrell P34/3-2
Entrant : Elf Team Tyrrell
Grid : 13
Result : 2
 
It was raining for most of the first 22 laps of the race and by that time Patrick had moved up to third place. On lap 36 he was in second place behind Hunt who was leading. Patrick dropped back to third on lap 40 when Pryce got by him, but on lap 47 he was again second when Pryce’s Shadow retired with engine problems. At the time some of the drivers were beginning to experience problems with tyre wear. The wet weather tyres were overheating on the drying circuit. On lap 62 Patrick overtook Hunt to take the lead in the race. He was set to win the race, but only a few laps later his left rear tyre began to deflate and he ended up limping into the pits for a tyre change.
 
Andretti took over the lead and by the time Patrick rejoined the race, he had dropped back to fifth position. Hunt also had to pit with a tyre problem, which meant that Depailler was in fourth place. On lap 70 Patrick made up two more places when he passed both Regazzoni and Jones. Depailler was now in second position, but a lap down on the leader Mario Andretti. They stayed in this order for the final few laps.
 

9 January 1977 Buenos Aires - Argentine Grand Prix

 
Car : Tyrrell P34/3-2
Entrant : Elf Team Tyrrell
Grid : 3
Result : did not finish (engine – lap 33)
 
Tyrrell had signed Peterson as Depailler’s new teammate for the 1977 season. During unofficial practice on Thursday, Patrick set the fastest time in the re-bodied six-wheel Tyrrell. He was particularly confidant and showed that the car’s aerodynamics worked quite effectively. The car also had a 2,3 inch wider front track.
Friday morning again saw Patrick being the fastest of all. He was the only driver to lap below 1min. 50 seconds. In the final timed session he could not improve on his times, though, and found himself being relegated to the second row, when both Hunt and Watson bettered the time that he set earlier. 
 
In the race Patrick made a poor start and was lying in 10th position after the first lap. The scavenge pump of his car took two laps before it started to function properly. The race itself was a big disappointment thanks to a variety of other problems, such as severe aerodynamic disturbances in traffic. Patrick’s helmet was twice nearly sucked off his head. He retired from the race on lap 33 due to an overheating engine.
 

23 January 1977 Interlagos - Brazilian Grand Prix

 
Car : Tyrrell P34/3-2
Entrant : Elf Team Tyrrell
Grid : 6
Result : did not finish (spun off – lap 24)
 
As in Argentina the 6-wheelers were very fast on the straights, but proved to be a handful in the corners, due to acute understeer. Patrick, nevertheless, did very well to qualify the difficult handling car in 6th position. He also held on to this position early in the race.
 
On lap 13 Mass spun his car, which resulted in Regazzoni, Peterson and also Depailler going off the road at the same spot. Patrick continued, but lost three places in the process. Several laps later he came to grief at the same place again. He yet again spun, but this time with a much more serious end result. He connected Mass’s Mclaren that were left next to the circuit after his earlier mishap. 
The Tyrrell knocked the Mclaren another 100 meters along the road. Patrick was injured in the accident and he had to be lifted out of his car. He was taken by ambulance to a nearby hospital, but luckily he received just minor injuries to his knee.
 

5 March 1977 Kyalami - South African Grand Prix

 
Car : Tyrrell P34/2
Entrant : Elf Team Tyrrell
Grid : 4
Result : 3
 
Patrick’s car went well on the long Kyalami straight and this was most significant in securing 4th place on the grid during the practice session. After the first lap of the race he was behind Lauda, Scheckter and Hunt. This was the pattern for most of the race. A few laps from the end of the race, Depailler began to put Hunt under extreme pressure. He finally passed the Englishman in a brave overtaking maneuver at Crowthorne corner. After claiming third position he was really flying and catching Scheckter towards the end. He failed by half a second to take second place from the local man.
 

3 April 1977 Long Beach - United States Grand Prix (West)

 
Car : Tyrrell P34/2
Entrant : Elf Team Tyrrell
Grid : 12
Result : 4
 
The Tyrrells suffered from handling problems and Depailler also lost valuable time after making contact with a wall on Friday. He broke a rear upright in the process. On Saturday it was gearbox problems that delayed him. The end result was 12th position on the grid. A good start saw him finishing the first lap in eight position. He gradually worked his way through the field and was occupying 5th place by lap 16.When the chequered flag was shown, he found himself in a distant fourth place, this, despite suffering from brake problems.
 

8 May 1977 Jarama - Spanish Grand Prix

 
Car : Tyrrell P34/7
Entrant : Elf Team Tyrrell
Grid : 10
Result : did not finish (engine – lap 13)
 
A new Tyrrell was available for Depailler, but its specifications were that of the 1976 car. It was fitted with a device that could adjust brake-balance from within the cockpit. The new car was not much of a revelation in practice and a fifth row grid position was all that Patrick could show after the sessions were completed. He retired quite early on in the race with engine damage.
 

22 May 1977 Monte Carlo - Monaco Grand Prix

 
Car : Tyrrell P34/7
Entrant : Elf Team Tyrrell
Grid : 8
Result : did not finish (brakes/gearbox – lap 47)
 
The Tyrrell boys were still struggling when the teams arrived in Monte Carlo. This time it was brake problems that were causing most of their worries. Peterson was faster than Depailler during practice and started the race from the second row. Patrick was on row four. Right from the start of the race it was obvious that both cars were in trouble due to their poor braking. Patrick was dropping back, through continually having to pump his brake pedal. It was gearbox problems, though, that finally lead to his retirement on lap 47.
 

5 June 1977 Zolder - Belgian Grand Prix

 
Car : Tyrrell P34/7
Entrant : Elf Team Tyrrell
Grid : 5
Result : 8
 
Friday’s practice was held on a damp circuit and Patrick was quite a worried man after the completion of the first session. He found himself on the bottom of the time chart. The reason for this dilemma was the fact that he had to use the spare car for a few laps, while his mechanics were fitting a new rear suspension to his racecar. By the time the racecar was ready, the circuit was too wet to set a decent time. 
Saturday, luckily for him, was dry and for a few minutes it even seemed that Patrick would take pole position, but in the end he had to be satisfied with fifth fastest time. On race day it was raining prior to the start of the race and the cars were fitted with wet weather tyres.
 
Patrick was in fifth position after the first couple of laps, but on lap 8 he made a very early stop to fit slick tyres. He did not benefit from this stop and never again featured amongst he top six cars. Depailler came home in eight position, more than a lap behind the winner, Gunnar Nilsson.
 

19 June 1977 Anderstorp - Swedish Grand Prix

 
Car : Tyrrell P34/7
Entrant : Elf Team Tyrrell
Grid : 6
Result : 4
 
The Tyrrells were back to their 1977 specifications for this race, with their wider front-track, longer wheelbase and heavier bodywork.
In practice Patrick had the upper hand on his teammate’s home circuit. He qualified 6th, while Peterson could only managed 10th fastest time. Depailler had a steady race and although suffering from handling and brake problems, he finished a creditable fourth in the race.
 

3 July 1977 Dijon - French Grand Prix

 
Car : Tyrrell P34/7
Entrant : Elf Team Tyrrell
Grid : 12
Result : did not finish (collision – lap 22)
 
It was a much-revised Tyrrell that was available for Depailler at the French GP, with front oil radiators and an increase of 25cm in the front wheel track. This made the front wheels stuck out from behind the front aerofoil.
 
After being quite enthusiastic about the new changes initially, Patrick failed to improve on his Friday morning’s times. He would start the race from 12th spot. In the race he was lying in 10th position for most of the time until lap 22, when Hans Stuck’s Brabham spun into Depailler’s car. Patrick was forced off the road and had to retire with a badly bent front suspension.
 

16 July 1977 Silverstone - British Grand Prix

 
Car : Tyrrell P34/7
Entrant : Elf Team Tyrrell
Grid : 18
Result : did not finish (brakes/accident – lap 17) 
 
The Tyrrells were changed yet again. This time the front track on Patrick’s car was extended by another inch. The rear track was also wider, the wheelbase had been lengthened and the body shell was much lighter. Fiber brushes were attached below the leading edges of the sides and nose to prevent air from passing underneath.
 
This all did not seem to work, since Patrick found himself in a dismal 18th position after practice. A very unhappy weekend ended when Patrick went straight off the circuit and into some catch-fences on lap 17. At the time of this incident his car was experiencing brake problems.
 

31 July 1977 Hockenheim - German Grand Prix

 
Car : Tyrrell P34/7
Entrant : Elf Team Tyrrell
Grid : 15
Result : did not finish (engine – lap 23)
 
This was another dismal weekend for Team Tyrrell. The cars showed little sign of improvement and Patrick could only qualify 15th after transmission problems during practice. His cause was not help by a start line incident in which cars hit him from behind. The chaos was the result of the race being started by a flag rather than the accustomed green light. The only problem was that not everybody knew about this and at the start, Depailler, for one, remained stationary for a second or so. He carried on with the race, but was no serious contender. On lap 23 he retired from the race with engine problems.
 

14 August 1977 Osterreichring - Austrian Grand Prix

 
Car : Tyrrell P34/7
Entrant : Elf Team Tyrrell
Grid : 10
Result : 13
 
Patrick as ever was trying his utmost during the practice sessions, but once again had only a fifth row grid position to show for his efforts. During the race he was also struggling and was also delayed by a pit stop, following a punctured tyre. Before his pit stop Depailler and Reutemann were at one stage locked in a battle for sixth position. He finished the race one lap behind the winner in 13th position.
 

28 August 1977 Zandvoort - Dutch Grand Prix

 
Car : Tyrrell P34/7
Entrant : Elf Team Tyrrell
Grid : 11
Result : did not finish (engine – lap 32)
 
The weekend at Zandvoort brought no success for Tyrrell. Peterson qualified in an encouraging 7th place, while Patrick was back in 11th position on the grid. Depailler moved up to 10th place after the second lap. Three laps later he gained another position. He made slow progress and by lap 18 he was sixth. A pit stop on the 21st lap saw him dropping several places. From this he could not recover and he was running amongst the back markers, until he retired with a blown engine some 10 laps later.
 

11 September 1977 Monza - Italian Grand Prix

 
Car : Tyrrell P34/7
Entrant : Elf Team Tyrrell
Grid : 13
Result : did not finish (engine – lap 25)
 
The Tyrrells was restricted to mid-field grid positions and in a most uncompetitive race, Patrick had to retire with another engine failure.
 

2 October 1977 Watkins Glen - United States Grand Prix

 
Car : Tyrrell P34/7
Entrant : Elf team Tyrrell
Grid : 8
Result : 14
 
The performance of his much-maligned Tyrrell surprised Depailler very much during practice. The Tyrrells were a full 16 km/h faster than anyone through the Glen’s speed trap. At least they lived up to their reputation of being fast in a straight line. The race itself was, however, a dismal affair for Patrick. He slipped back to 14th position after the second lap and also finished the race in the same position – more than three laps behind the winner.
 

9 October 1977 Mosport - Canadian Grand Prix

 
Car : Tyrrell P34/7
Entrant : Elf Team Tyrrell
Grid : 6
Result : 2
 
The Tyrrells again did well in practice. Peterson qualified an excellent third, while Patrick was in sixth position on the grid. Patrick had a good start and was fifth by lap 5. He was racing his best race of the year and brought his car home in a worthy second place. He thrilled the crowd with great armfuls of self-induced oversteer in an attempt to fight the terrible understeer that the car was experiencing during the race.
 

23 October 1977 Mount Fuji - Japanese Grand Prix

 
Car : Tyrrell P34/7
Entrant : Elf Team Tyrrell
Grid : 15
Result : 3
 
Poor handling were again spoiling the Tyrrell team’s practice session. Patrick could only qualify in 15th place, while Peterson was even lower down the order in 18th place. During the race Patrick made steady progress through the field and with five laps to go before the end of the race, he was in fifth position. The following lap he managed to pass Alan Jones to claim fourth place. He gained another place when Laffite’s Ligier ran out of fuel on the last lap.