• Ask Steven

Six wheels on my wagon ...

Steven Lynch April 2, 2010

Our resident expert - Steven Lynch - is here to answer all your questions about any aspect of F1. If you have a burning question or just want to test Steven, send us your questions… And check out the new Ask Steven Facebook page

Tyrrell unveils its innovative six wheeler © Sutton Images
Why did Tyrrell's six-wheel car not work very well? asked Geza Nemeth from Hungary
Well, it wasn't that bad, since Tyrrell's Project 34 six-wheeler actually won a Grand Prix - Jody Scheckter drove it to victory in the Swedish GP in 1976, with his team-mate Patrick Depailler second in a similar car. But despite this Scheckter didn't like the car much - he left the team at the end of the year and called the six-wheeler "a piece of junk". The main drawbacks seem to have been that the car needed special small front tyres, which Goodyear were not prepared to continue developing, while the suspension and other mechanical bits and pieces necessary to have two steerable sets of front wheels added undue weight to the car. March also developed a six-wheel car - in their case the extra set were at the back, giving four small rear wheels in an effort to reduce drag - but it never raced competitively. Ferrari (who tried a car with four wheels on a single rear axle, like a large truck might have) and Williams tried similar concepts but they were eventually quietly abandoned.

Which passing manoeuvre do you consider to be your favourite one in the last ten years, and why? asked Khairil Abdullah from Malaysia
From the last ten years the one I remember best is Juan Pablo Montoya's move on Michael Schumacher at the end of the finishing straight at Interlagos in Brazil in 2001. It was only Montoya's third F1 race, yet he got inside Schumacher (the reigning champion, after winning the third of his seven titles in 2000) and held his line, forcing his way through. Extending it beyond your ten-year qualification, I think my favourite passing move was pulled off by Nigel Mansell in the Hungarian GP of 1989. Mansell, in a Ferrari, was close behind Ayrton Senna's McLaren when they came up to lap Stefan Johansson in an Onyx. As Senna moved out to pass Johansson Mansell swept inside him and overtook both of them to take the lead: Mansell ended up winning, despite having started from 12th on a circuit where it is notoriously difficult to pass anyone.

Mark Webber's bad luck at home continued in 2010 as he yet again failed to win the Australian Grand Prix. Has any Australian driver ever won it? asked Dan Seebold from Sydney
It's not just Mark Webber: no Australian driver has won their home Grand Prix since it was given world championship status in 1985. Before that there were 49 non-championship races called the Australian Grand Prix which were often won by home drivers: the last one to win it was Alan Jones, the 1980 world champion as it happens, who won at Calder that year in a Williams. Despite his legendarily bad home luck, Webber still has the best performance by an Aussie driver in a world championship Australian GP: he was fifth in a Minardi in 2002, and fifth again in his first race for Williams in 2005.

Bruce McLaren in his Cooper © Getty Images
When I was young I remember that the youngest driver to win a Grand Prix was Bruce McLaren. Does he still hold the record? asked Edgar Wright from Colchester
Bruce McLaren won the United States GP at Sebring in 1959 when he was just 22 years 104 days old. His record as the youngest winner of a world championship Grand Prix stood until 2003, when Fernando Alonso won in Hungary 26 days past his 22nd birthday, but his record was more short-lived: Sebastian Vettel won the Italian GP in 2008 when 21 years and 73 days old. Five of the youngest six drivers to win an F1 Grand Prix were active in 2009: Vettel, Alonso, Lewis Hamilton, Kimi Raikkonen and Robert Kubica (McLaren is the exception). For the record, the American Troy Ruttman was just 22 years and 80 days old in 1952 when he won the Indianapolis 500, which at that time counted towards the world championship.

I briefly spotted a driver called Paul di Resta in the Force India in Australia. I assumed he was Italian, but was surprised to see him listed as British. Was the caption wrong? asked Andy Richardson from Taunton
No, Paul di Resta is indeed British - he was born in West Lothian in Scotland in 1986. The winner of the F3 Euroseries in 2006, he is Force India's reserve and test driver for the current season. Di Resta is the cousin of Dario Franchitti, the Scottish driver who won the Indianapolis 500 ¬- and the overall Indycar championship - in 2007. Dario's brother Marino Franchitti also races in America now - I spotted him a week or two ago finishing fifth in the Sebring 12-hour race.

Which country has had the most different Grand Prix circuits? asked Melanie Wykoff from Adelaide
The answer is the United States, where no fewer than nine different circuits have hosted world championship Grands Prix. Indianapolis has staged the most, with 19, 11 of those being the Indy 500 itself, which counted towards the world championship between 1950 and 1960. Since then a special circuit using part of the infield at the Brickyard has been used for eight more GPs, of which probably the best-remembered one - for the wrong reasons - is the farcical 2005 race which only six cars started after a dispute about tyres. Other circuits used for GPs in America have been Sebring in Florida (in 1959, the race won by Bruce McLaren as mentioned above), Riverside in California (1960, when Stirling Moss won it), Watkins Glen in New York state (11 races between 1961 and 1980), Long Beach in California (eight races from 1976 to 1983), Detroit in Michigan (seven from 1982 to 1988), Dallas in Texas (one race in 1984), Phoenix in Arizona (three from 1989 to 1991) and, perhaps most exotically, the car park at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas (1981 and 1982).

If you want to ask Steven a question, use our feedback form. The most interesting questions will be answered here on the first and third Thursday of every month. His long-running Ask Steven column on Cricinfo remains one of that site's most popular features

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
Steven Lynch Close
If you want to ask Steven a question, use our feedback form. The most interesting questions will be answered here every other Friday. His long-running Ask Steven column on Cricinfo remains one of that site's most popular features Ask Steven features a number of experts, headed by Steven Lynch, who answer your questions across Formula One as well as a variety of other sports