Formula 1 truly misses people like Ken Tyrrell

November 14, 2015
Featured, Spotlight
Alexander S

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Robert Kenneth ’Ken’ Tyrrell (1924-2001) was a British racing driver best known as the founder of the Tyrrell Formula 1 team. He was one of the enthusiasts who contributed to the progress and popularization of the sport at an early stage.

As a driver, Ken Tyrrell couldn’t achieve what he wanted

Ken Tyrrell was born in East Horsley in Surrey, England, on May 3, 1924. During the World War II, he served in the Royal Air Force and after that, he became a timber merchant. In 1952, he began racing, driving a Cooper in Formula 3. Six years later, he made his debut in Formula 2, with variable success.

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Ken Tyrrell poses in front of Tyrrell 002 Ford Cosworth V8, 1971

However, when he concluded that he was not good enough to reach the top of the racing world, Tyrrell decided to run the Cooper Formula Junior team in 1959. By 1961, he was also managing Mini Coopers and was a deputy to the injured John Cooper in Formula 1.

Making of Matra team

Finally in 1968, with the help of few prominent sponsors, he moved up to Formula 1 as the team principal for Matra International, a team formed from Tyrrell’s own team and the French manufacturer. Tyrell persuaded them that Cosworth DFV engine is better than their own, and it all resulted in the making of Matra MS10.

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Ken Tyrrell with Jackie Stewart, legend of Formula 1 racing

A couple of years earlier, Tyrrell spotted the talent of Jackie Stewart and brought him into the team. Success was imminent as Matra International became the runners-up in the Constructors’ Championship in 1968 and the next year Stewart won the Drivers’ Championship title.

However, the best was still to come. In 1971 and 1972, the team achieved eight wins with Tyrrell 003 car , and Jackie Stewart took the title in 1971.

Video – Tyrrell F1 tribute

Tyrrell had an eye for the talents

The early years in Formula 1 world were the peak of the career for ‘Uncle Ken’, as Tyrrell was often known. In 1973, Stewart announced retirement, while the second pilot Francois Cevert died during the practice session of the US Grand Prix. After that, the results weren’t as good as the previous ones, but the team promoted some talented drivers, like the future Formula 1 champion Jody Scheckter or Ronnie Peterson.

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Tyrrell with Patrick Depailler and Ronnie Peterson, Buenos Aires

In the 1980s, Tyrrell’s team was left without sponsors. They were still running Cosworth engines, while all the others had switched to turbocharged ones. With some talented drivers like Michele Alboreto and Martin Brundle, Tyrrell tried all that he could do for his team to stay competitive. The last win the team scored was in 1983 by Alboreto, but the next year, the team was excluded from the championship after it was found that they ran underweight cars. Of course, Tyrrell denied it claiming that his team was being singled out for refusing to run more expensive engines.

Probably the last enthusiast in Formula 1

In the last decade of the 20th century, Ken Tyrrell left most of the control of the team to his sons and Harvey Postlethwaite. Until 1997, when the team was bought by British American Tobacco, a few good results were achieved by Jean Alesi, Mark Blundell and Mika Salo.

Ken Tyrrell racing world british season

Ken Tyrrell, one of the most influential British people in the history of Formula 1

The new owners of the team didn’t have so much passion for racing, enthusiasm and experience to spot talented drivers, which left Tyrrell quite disappointed before he died of cancer on 25th of August, 2001.

Tyrrell had some revolutionary concepts in Formula 1

Tyrrell’s legacy and desire to push the limits made him a kind of legend in the history of Formula 1 racing. His team created the six-wheeled P34, with four front wheels and was the first to introduce the high-nose concept in the 1990 Tyrrell car.


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