I must confess, I have a soft spot for F1 seasons gone by. Yes, I was little more than four months old when Senna was killed, so evidently I missed out on something amazing, but all through my life there's been that strange fascination with things that happened before my time that I can't quite put my finger on. Hence, since getting rFactor, I have set about collecting all of the good historic mods I can get my hands on. I have my fair share of modern mods buried in my extensive rFactor portfolio (such as Endurance Series, which I reviewed for RD last year, and the amazing FSONE 2009) but there are also many mods such as GPC79, F1-SR's F1 1993 and Carerra.4's F1 1988 that have a special spot in my rFactor installation. So when I saw many moons ago that Slimjim, Chief Wiggum, Mauricio Leive and Ed Straker were converting Team CREW's F1 1971 mod from F1 Challenge to rFactor, I kept a tag on this development. Rather than converting it straight to rFactor with no frills attached, these guys were giving the mod a complete overhaul to bring it up to rFactor standard; textures and physics were beng upgraded among other things. I saw the screenshots and preview videos as the months went on, and I continually found myself raising my eyebrows in interest at the upcoming mod. Then I saw this morning on VirtualR that the mod had been released. Almost instantly, my grubby little fingers clicked the Download button. Since my internet download speed is quite possibly the worst in the developed world at the time of typing, it took the better part of three hours to download the 344-MB mod. Ample time for a quick jaunt to the local shopping centre. When I got back, there was 7-zip, ready to extract the folders to wherever I pleased. The packaging of the mod is very straightforward – all that is needed is to extract everything straight to your main rFactor folder – so mod installation newbies need not fear. Starting up the game with the fresh content installed, I was greeted with a delightful garage spinner; Jackie Stewart's Tyrrell was sitting in an old-fashioned brick garage with a Cessna-like plane sitting out the front. Very 70s indeed. I bought the car right away and immediately started kitting it out to my liking – and here, in the upgrades menu, was the only thing I didn't like. As I always race with as much force feedback as possible, I went for Assist level 3 in the FFB upgrades menu. However, one has to “buy” the Assist level 2 (medium steering weight) upgrade before one can access Assist level 3. It doesn't make much sense to me, having to buy all of the FFB settings one at a time for every car you try, but it's an incredibly minor annoyance, and doesn't detract from the mod in any way. Now came the driving experience, which is where this mod really begins to shine. I took the Tyrrell, Lotus and BRM out on various tracks and was blown away. Even with rFactor's default FFB, which isn't exactly the best of any sim, the tyres feel connected to the road. I could feel when they were breaking traction and sliding, and I could judge precisely how much steering input was necessary to get the best out of them. When they did lose grip, it was easy to judge what would happen and adjust my driving accordingly. All too often with sim racing mods, physics are constructed with the preconcieved notion that a race car's rear end feels as if it's on ice, and hence many rear-wheel drive cars in rFactor behave like a toddler on red cordial if you overstep the mark even slightly. This is not the case with F1 1971: Slimjim has constructed physics that give you a definite feeling that there is a monster under your right foot, and yet it is still fun to slide it around because you know you can catch it. Having seen onboard footage of 1970s F1 cars being driven in anger, I observed how the drivers handled their cars and applied this to my driving... and it worked. Smooth driving, and some powersliding with an armful of opposite lock in case things get hairy, is the way to go for F1 1971. I don't claim to be the last word on realism in our beloved games, but the physics are, for me, the best interpretation of what it may have been like to drive these cars. This is an unedited screenshot, taken while on my first drive of the mod, from inside the cockpit of Stewart's Tyrrell at GPC's Hockenheim 1979. The detail of the cockpit is immediately apparent. Be sure to click the image to see the shot in more detail. This is a league edition mod – a historic version is in the works – so all cars share the same physics, but all are worth trying for the different sounds. From just a few laps in different-engined cars, I can say that in my opinion, this mod has some of the best open-wheeler sounds ever created for rFactor. The BRM in particular is my favourite – do your ears a favour and listen to the engine, full blast, from both in and out of the cockpit. It's an aural symphony that's still ringing in my ears. Graphically, the mod is incredible too. The texture work put into this mod must have been staggering, so realistic do the cockpit details look. It's not that often when you can see the grain of the leather on an ingame steering wheel in rFactor. The cars are simply beautiful on the outside as well, looking very out of place against the slightly cartoonish backdrop of mainstream rFactor addon tracks. Even though I have not driven the mod on any of Virtua_LM's tracks, I can imagine they would look very much at home against the lovely colour and texture pallette of Virtua_LM's work. Catching some air at the Nordschleife in Fittipaldi's Lotus. I have never seen shadows that detailed before. So there we have it – it is plain to me that this is a must-have mod, not only for old-timers who remember watching these cars on television as a kid, but also for the younger generations who are looking for a taste of what it may have been like to drive the Formula One cars of the early 1970s. It's definitely worth picking up because it's the ideal package when it comes to mods: great looks, great sounds and great physics. Whatever era of F1 you're into, this mod deserves a place on your hard drive. I know it'll be on mine for a very long time to come. Thanks Slimjim, Chief Wiggum, Mauricio and Ed for bringing us a great reminder of what F1 once was.