By John Nicholson and Adam Parsons
ISBN 333 74700S
Published by Macmillan, £20.00
I felt a bit sad after reading Five Days of a Grand Prix. Sad because what on paper sounds like such a promising idea, turned out in reality to be a harder prospect to deliver. The premise of photographer Jon Nicholson and journalist Adam Parsons’ book is to chronicle every moment of a Formula One weekend from the minute the teams start setting up on a Thursday morning to the long haul back on the following Monday. Yet somehow the book fails to deliver and it is hard at first to put a finger on why.
Nicholson is a fine photographer. A close friend of Damon Hill, he has enjoyed access in the F1 paddock that has allowed him to capture some truly evocative images. Jacques Villeneuve staring plaintively at a sheet of telemetry is all you need to know about his 1999 season. Parsons’ words are equally measured; the lengthy photo captions erring on the side of understatement. The trouble lies when you take a more studied look at what is in reality an extended photo album. A black and white photo of people setting up a pitlane looks awfully like the same people taking it all down again, and it is this sheer repetition of imagery that makes the book hard to trawl through in one sitting.
There are still gems to be found all over the book, but it’s the image of a mother and son scavenging for scraps on the hillside at Imola after the race that left me most moved. A rare intrusion of the outside world into the insular surroundings of F1. MF