Reporter Andrew Kay learnt – or rather tried to learn – the art of drifting with Caterham F1 drivers Heikki Kovalainen and Vitaly Petrov, ahead of this weekend’s British Grand Prix.
The secret was to rev the car to 6,000rpm and then ‘dump the clutch’ – the team’s technical term for letting the clutch out too quickly so the car lurches forward – which helps throw the car off balance and you start skidding.
Well, that was the theory, anyway.
The session took place at the Daytona karting circuit in Milton Keynes and I was lucky enough to use one of the legendary Caterham Seven sports cars.
First up Vitaly took me out to show me what to do. I laughed when he leant over and said ‘don’t worry’ with a wry smile in his strong Russian accent – before he dumped the clutch and we did more spins than a washing machine.
Then it was my turn. Yes I stalled. Yes I hit the cones while both F1 drivers watching and no I wasn’t offered a driving contract with the team afterwards.
However, I can hold my head high with a ‘respectable’ three-quarter turn as you can see in the video.
Both drivers were in high spirits after the team’s best ever finish two weeks ago at the European Grand Prix in Valenica – where the car was quick enough for Heikki to reach the second round of the three qualifying sessions on merit.
Looking ahead to this weekend’s race, Heikki said: “Silverstone is a great track to race at – both because it’s one of our two home races and because it’s a proper driver’s track.
“Even with the changes that have been made over the years it is still what F1 is all about – high speed corners that really push the performance of the car.
“The new section is probably the least exciting bit of the track from inside the cockpit but the classic corners from Copse and Maggots to Beckets is right up there with some of the best corners on the calendar.
“At the last race in Valencia we clearly made improvements, enough to help me put the car into Q2 on merit and we have more upgrades coming for Silverstone.
“For this race it’s important that we carry our qualifying speed and good reliability through into Sunday.”
Petrov said: “It’s a fantastic place to race at because of the exciting atmosphere and the special love the British fans have for motorsport.
“They are some of the most knowledgeable, passionate fans in the world and they give the whole place a special atmosphere all weekend.”