F1 Nutter – The Story of Six Wheel Formula One Cars 6: Speaking of odd Formula One experiments, here’s another good one: the six-wheeled car.
The idea behind this was to hide the front tires behind the front fairing, since tires an aerodynamic pain to deal with — as far as the wind is concerned, they’re each just a big square it has to get around.
To hide the tires, however, they had to be made smaller. And when they made them smaller, they also made smaller the critical “contact patch,” where the tire meets the ground. The answer: four front tires. The contact patches were smaller, but there were twice as many.
According to the page linked above, the bottom line turned out that it was no slower than a regular car, but no faster either. This, combined with the fact that six tires slowed pit stops down considerably, ended this expirement fairly quickly.
The page also shows many examples of six-wheeled cars where the extra wheels are on the back of the car. I can’t figure out what advantage this would provide, which is perhaps why we don’t see any of these today.