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The need for speed

Chloe Lim
Chloe Lim • 6 min read
The need for speed
Check out these five books that could shed light on F1 racing — from its absolute basics to the hidden nuances of the scene and its history
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Loved Netflix’s Drive to Survive and want to delve even deeper into the incredible intricacies of F1 before the long-awaited F1 Grand Prix returns to Singapore after a pandemic-led hiatus? Check out these books that could shed light on the sport — from its absolute basics to the hidden nuances of the scene and its history.

Speed Read F1: The Technology, Rules, History And Concepts Key To The Sport by Stuart Codling

Speed Read F1 is perfect for those who know nothing about the sport but want to learn everything about it and get up to speed — fast. From clear, concise rundowns on the rudimentary motor technology and racing circuits to brief outlines on notable rivalries between prominent drivers over the years and the business behind F1, this book is an easy-to-read guide with entertaining, well-illustrated graphics to keep you engaged. Armed with glossaries for each section, Speed Read F1 is designed to clarify any doubts you have regarding the technicalities of the sport while being peppered with sidebars of “fun facts” and “historical titbits” on every page.

The book even gets mildly contemplative, with a short section on “Why Teammates are Often The Best of Enemies”, which outlines the struggle of comparison and competition with one’s teammate in the world of F1 racing. Because, indeed, if you make the car the common denominator between two racers, it surely has to be their skills that decide the results of each race. Speed Read F1 takes the time to discuss the rise of such hyper-competitiveness, in addition to how “intrateam rancour” has been a longstanding occurrence within several reputable teams.

Life at the Limit: Triumph and Tragedy in Formula 1 by Professor Sid Watkins

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Alas, with all the successes that F1 has seen, there are inevitably several cases of misfortune on the track. Life At The Limit: Triumph and Tragedy in Formula One by Professor Sid Watkins shares sobering accounts of accidents on the F1 track and his first-hand experience alongside drivers with post-event injuries and sometimes witnessing fatalities.

With an eye on driver safety in F1 and the trials of his trade, the book recounts many dramatic instances of crashes and near-death accidents in the F1 circuit, shedding light on the ominous reality of F1 racing. In an emotional journey, Watkins explores what it means to work as an on-site F1 doctor while always being alert for what could often turn from spectacle to cause for concern.

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His memoirs are not an utterly morose read, however. Watkins also offers many of his musings and fond memories of drivers through the ages, from Mario Andretti in the 1970s to Michael Schumacher and Ayrton Senna in the 1990s. Each encounter with the assortment of drivers is a careful, intricately crafted assessment featuring many untold aspects of the life of racers behind the scenes. Perhaps this makes Watkins’ accounts particularly heart-wrenching, learning about his connection to several drivers and sometimes his experience of unavoidably having to meet them in the most unfortunate circumstances.

Pick up this book today if you’d like to hear more intimate tales of world-famous drivers through the eyes and experience of famed F1 doctor Watkins, to better understand them by not just by their wins but also the crashes they experienced and injuries sustained.

How to Build a Car by Adrian Newey

Adrian Newey’s How to Build A Car is quite the staple in the canon of recommended reads on F1 racing, considering how it offers a novel perspective of the sport from the lens of what goes behind the making of the car, without overt technicalities or complicated jargon.

Currently the chief technical officer of Red Bull Racing, Newey has worked in F1 racing as a race engineer, aerodynamicist and technical director. His accomplishments as a top F1 engineer are one for the record books.

This autobiography goes from Newey’s childhood moments that inspired his passions in the automotive world to his accounts of F1’s exciting triumphs and devastating tragedies, most notably the death of Ayrton Senna at the 1994 San Marino Grand Prix. Newey’s sketches of car designs and old photographs are interspersed with his story to offer a holistic picture of the growth in his thought processes and stylistic development as an up-andcoming race engineer at the time. This book is an opportunity for all to explore the mind of an engineering genius in the automotive industry in an entirely passionate and humanising way.

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A must-read to gain deeper insight into the complexities of the F1 world, this book will keep you well hooked on learning more about Newey’s unique highs and lows in his journey through the F1 sphere.

Winning is Not Enough — The Autobiography by Jackie Stewart

Written by the man himself, Jackie Stewart’s autobiography goes back to the 1960s when he was at his prime as an F1 racer, having bagged 27 race wins and three championship titles. A constant through his work is his passion for the sport, even long after his retirement, which can be seen and felt in his ardent rallying and involvement in the sport as a consultant, commentator and race safety advisor.

In his autobiography, Stewart writes about a good variety of “moments of success and terrible loss” in all senses during his time as an F1 driver, in addition to some lesser known parts of his life, such as being one of the best clay-pigeon shooters from the UK. There is more than meets the eye regarding Stewart and his adventures on and off the track.

Charting his growth from rookie to star, Stewart delivers an enchanting narrative that recounts memorable conversations with foundational figures leading to his success, and honest musings on facing defeat and his way of bouncing back.

Survive. Drive. Win. — The Inside Story of Brawn GP and Jenson Button’s Incredible F1 Championship Win by Nick Fry and Ed Gorman

Survive. Drive. Win. — The Inside Story of Brawn GP and Jenson Button’s Incredible F1 Championship Win tells us the story of famous F1 racer Jenson Button and the twists and turns he met in the circuit during his time as a driver.

Told from the perspective of Nick Fry, former CEO of the Honda Racing F1, Brawn GP and Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 teams, the book delves into the business behind F1 and dramatic turns in the industry, mainly when Honda pulled out of the sport in December 2008, leaving Button without a team for the season in 2009 (and yet — spoiler alert — clinching the world title at the Brazil Grand Prix that same year). Other tales include the management buyout for GPB1.00; and its subsequent sale to Mercedes at GBP140 million.

In this book, we get up close and personal with Fry’s account of what went down leading up to F1’s fairy tale championship win, which would see Brawn GP beat teams like Red Bull Racing, Ferrari and McLaren. An incredible story, Fry does not fail to keep readers on the edge of their seats about the events at the time and inspire us to see how even the impossible can be made possible in the world of F1.

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