• Derek Gardner 1931-2011

Legendary Tyrrell designer Derek Gardner dies

ESPNF1 Staff
January 11, 2011 « Red Bull denies it broke spending agreements | »
Ken Tyrrell and designer Derek Gardner stand behind the innovative six wheeler Tyrrell Project 34 car for the first time - Patrick Depailler is behind the wheel © Sutton Images
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Respected Tyrrell designer Derek Gardner has died at the age of 79.

Gardner started working for Ken Tyrrell in 1970 after the pair met in a Surrey pub. Gardner, a self-employed transmission specialist had found himself involved in the world of Formula One a year before with the Matra team.

He designed Tyrrell's first chassis, the 001, which was built at his garage and raced at the 1970 Canadian Grand Prix where Jackie Stewart qualified on pole but had to retire with an axle failure in the race itself.

The modified Tyrrell 003 was raced by Stewart and his protégée François Cevert in 1971 and the pair recorded seven wins between them. Stewart won the Drivers' World Championship and Tyrrell took the Constructors' title.

Another title followed for Stewart in 1973, his final season, but the campaign was overshadowed by the crash which killed Cevert.

Without its two brilliant drivers, Tyrrell was unable to continue at the top, and Gardner's six-wheel P34 accelerated the decline, with drivers unhappy with it and by 1977 the team had slipped to sixth in the constructors' championship.

Disenchanted after the failure of the P34, Gardner quit later in the season with the words of Jody Scheckter, the only man ever to win a race in a six-wheeled car, that the car was "a piece of junk" ringing in his ears.

Gardner turned his back on the sport and become the divisional director of engineering and research at the Borg-Warner clutch company.

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