Tyrrell was an auto racing team and Formula One constructor founder by Ken Tyrrell. It first came into being in 1958, running Formula Three cars for Ken Tyrrell and local stars. Realising he was not racing driver material, Ken Tyrrell stood down as a driver in 1959, and began to run a Formula Junior operation using the woodshed owned by his family business, Tyrrell Brothers , as a workshop. Throughout the 1960s, Tyrrell moved through the lower formulas, variously giving single seater debuts to John Surtees and Jacky Ickx. But the team's most famous partnership was the one forged with Jackie Stewart, who first signed up in 1963.
Tyrrell ran the BRM Formula 2 operation througout 1965, 1966 and 1967 whilst Stewart was signed to the Formula One team. Tyrrell then signed a deal to run Formula 2 cars made by French company Matra, but allied to the new Ford DFV engine, Tyrrell and Jackie Stewart took the step up to Formula 1 in 1968, Stewart winning his first Formula One World Championship in 1969. Tyrrell and Stewart ran the Matra-Fords throughout 1970, while Derek Gardner worked on the first in-house Tyrrell Grand Prix car at the woodshed in Ockham, Surrey. Emerging in 1971, the Tyrrell 001 won both drivers' and constructors' championships that year, with a driving strength of Jackie Stewart and François Cévert. Stewart's 1972 challenge was hamstrung by a stomach ulcer, but he returned to full fitness in 1973. He and Cévert finishing 1st and 2nd in the Championship. Tragedy struck on October 6th, 1973, as Cévert was killed in practice for the US Grand Prix at Watkins Glen. Stewart, who was to retire at the end of the season, immediately stood down. Without their star driver or his skilled French protege abord, Tyrrell were never serious championship challengers again.
Despite this, the team remained a force throughout the 1970s, winning races with Jody Scheckter and Patrick Depailler. Most notable of these was Scheckter's triumph at the 1976 Swedish Grand Prix, giving Tyrrell a 1-2 finish driving the distinctive Tyrrell P34 car. The P34 was the first successful six-wheeler F1 car, which replaced the conventional front wheels with smaller wheels mounted in banks of two on either side of the car.
In 1977, the Turbo era dawned in Grand Prix racing, which was, by the mid-1980s, to render normally aspirated engined cars obsolete. It was the beginning of two decades of struggle for Tyrrell, who was often underfunded through lack of sponsorship. It seemed appropriate, then, that the final win for the classic Cosworth Ford DFV engine was taken by a Tyrrell car, Michele Alboreto at the 1983 Detroit Grand Prix. It was also Tyrrell's last Grand Prix win. During the 1984 season, Tyrrell were disqualified from the year's standings after it was discovered they had been illegally putting lead in their fuel tank at the Detroit race.
Tyrrell struggled on through the 1980s and 1990s - although their insubstantial on-track performances were not matched by the sway which Ken Tyrrell held behind the scenes in Grand Prix politics. Eventually, in 1998 and in the face of dwindling form and ill health, was forced to sell his team to British American Tobacco, the team becoming British American Racing. The final race for Tyrrell was the 1998 Japanese Grand Prix, where Toranosuke Takagi tooled around at the back of the field, whilst his team-mate Ricardo Rosset failed to qualify.
Ken Tyrrell died of cancer on August 25th, 2001.
Tyrrell Grand Prix record
- Twice World Drivers' Champions (1971, 1973)
- Once Constructors' Champions (1971)