I’ve been craving some old F1 lately so I decided to fire up the old PS1 emulator and take Psygnosis’ Formula 1 out for a quick spin.

The game is based on the somewhat infamous 1995 season, best known for its many pay drivers of varying quality, some of whom (cough Deletraz) stalled the car while driving it, which is a feat in and of itself. As I had little knowledge of Formula 1 the last time around* as a child in 1998, I was shocked to find a universe where Michael Schumacher was a Bennetton driver and McLarens in a color other than silver & black.

As expected, the game has aged somewhat poorly in terms of graphics and gameplay, but it still has a few unique touches I don’t think I’ve seen anywhere else. Murray Walker’s commentary is very clearly prerecorded, but it’s mixed well enough that it feels natural, even when it creates unintentional “Murrayisms” like praising Damon Hill in his Williams for taking one for the Tifosi at Monza... Your tires also pick up dirt & grass when you forget how a 1995 physics engine interprets aerodynamics and elevation changes and you go spearing off at Parabolica.

Naturally, I had to drive as one of the infamous pay drivers and, on top of that, win as a pay driver. Doing so meant I had to choose the worst one I could think of, meaning Deletraz, and I intentionally chose an “easy” track I’ve experienced in other games: Monza.

The game was a lot easier than I remembered because I have indeed learned some things in the intervening twenty years. Still, it required two tries as the AI insisted on tangling wheels and the all-or-nothing digital D-Pad led to some silly mistakes. Nevertheless I managed to get into a wheel-to-wheel battle with Couthard that lasted until the final lap until I took the lead after a Ham/Vet style clash at turn 5.

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Fun stuff, even if it meant destroying the universe. Also, I may make more of these.

*The unkind would argue I haven’t learned much more and they would be right...