Faustus wrote: dr-baker wrote:
Faustus wrote:The Williams sytem was far superior to the Tyrrell, the March and the one that Ferrari tested (which was illegal anyway, it was just an experiment). 4 front-tyre-sized driven wheels on the back both improved traction and aerodynamics, despite the added complexity and weight of the 2 differentials. Cornering speeds would have gone up, despite the ban on sliding skirts and it would have been easier for turbo-engined cars to put down their insane power. There probably would have been more development into advanced materials in an attempt to counter the added weight.
In short, the turbo arms race would have been magnified. I think sooner or later every team would have developed their own 6-wheel car, until the FIA sooner or later would step in and ban anything other than 4 wheels.
With four tyres delivering the power rather than just two (I assume the Williams and March were 4-wheel drive?). would this have reduced tyre degradation somewhat, having half the power and torque being delivered through each wheel?
Yes, to an extent. The added grip would have been pretty crazy, what with at least 1.5 times the contact patch. Maybe refuelling wouldn't have been banned immediately as well.
Can you imagine a wing car, albeit without sliding skirts, with 6 wheels, double-chassis like the Lotus 88, turbo engine, refuelling and possibly the Lotus active suspension? Insane!
As I understand the situation, not only would there have been the considerable gain in rear traction via the increased contact patch, but Williams were also exploiting an ambiguity in the rules over the design of the floor for an aero gain - in fact, I think that the potential aero gain was as much of an incentive as the increased contact patch, if not more so.
The trick was that the regulations at the time meant that the sculpted underfloor had to end at the rear axle line - in this case, Williams realised they could extend the tunnels out to the second rearmost axle, and their initial tests suggested that they were gaining about 30% more downforce over the standard FW08. That in itself is the sort of gain in performance that most aerodynamicists would dream about - added to the increased rear traction, and you'd have had a very impressive car.
Mind you, as Sunshine_Baby_[IT] points out, I doubt that they would have allowed six wheeled cars for long - the potential increase in cornering performance might well have been too much for the authorities to stomach, especially if you were to add a turbo engine into the mix.