F1 powerslide compilation

There is a lot of discussion at the moment about how to improve F1 in the wake of Liberty Media taking over the sport.

Early indications are good, with greater fan involvement and talk about retaining historic races and improving the show in a proactive way. One of the biggest issues that needs to be solved, however, is the on-track action, and Liberty could do a lot worse than consulting this video.

We all know F1 cars used to drift around in the 1960s and early ’70s, before aerodynamics stifled sideways racing, but these clips from the mid-1990s prove that wings and oversteer need not be mutually exclusive.

F1 drift compilation Jean AlesiThat said, this is a time when the FIA drastically reduced the amount of downforce F1 cars had in the wake of Ayrton Senna’s death, as well as having banned all driver aids following the 1993 season.

The combination of lots of horsepower – from screaming naturally aspirated engines, but let’s not go down that road for now – and relatively low downforce led to the most important factor in having exciting on-track action: more power than grip.

F1 drift compilation Jacques VilleneuveOld-school drivers like Ayrton Senna, Gerhard Berger, Jean Alesi and pre-traction control Michael Schumacher also helped, as in the days before telemetry the only person who could figure out how to go faster was the driver, usually by pushing up to and beyond the limit.

These cars are probably 10 seconds or more a lap slower than the current hybrid monsters, but you’d struggle to find anyone watching who’d care. It’s always dangerous looking back with rose-tinted glasses, but there seems to be something in this combination of powerful engines, slick tyres, simple wings and tracks without acres of tarmac run-off.

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