Video: Olivier Panis slinging his Prost around Silverstone

20th February 2024
Simon Ostler

It’s crazy how deep a rabbit hole this 67-second video has sent us down. It’s a pretty simple clip that showcases one of F1’s forgotten stars, Olivier Panis, driving for one of F1’s forgotten teams, Prost, at one of F1’s forgotten circuits, the classic layout of Silverstone.

Panis, who stepped into F1 off the back of a hugely successful junior career, immediately began to make a name for himself as a potential future world champion with an electric turn of pace for the Ligier team. He scored a famous maiden victory in Monaco in 1996, and had established himself as a top driver on the grid when the team was bought by F1 legend Alain Prost for 1997.

After six races, Panis was third in the drivers’ standings behind only Jacques Villeneuve and Michael Schumacher, but after a heavy crash in Canada that saw him break both his legs, his career tailed off quite dramatically. He was never quite the same again.

By 1998, the Prost team that had made such an exciting start to life was already beginning to crumble. The car they’d put together was slow and horribly unreliable, and even in this clip we get to experience the disaster that was that year’s Prost gearbox, of which Martin Brundle informs us the team had got through 38 gearboxes in the first eight races of the season. It’s easy to see why he crosses the line more than 3.7 seconds slower than Mika Hakkinen, the car is certainly not what you’d call ‘on rails’.

Then there’s the circuit itself, the now long-forgotten layout of Silverstone that was reprofiled back in 2011. Here we have a lovely opportunity to ride onboard with Panis as he tackles the section of the circuit that’s no longer in use. The run from Club to Abbey, a high-speed chicane that leads on to the iconic right-hander of Bridge before the long apexes of Priory and Brooklands.

Let’s not even talk about the sound of that Peugeot V10. Suffice it to say we’re still not ready to move on…

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