Books: February 2018

How To Build A Car

Adrian Newey

Understanding Formula 1’s technical nuances, of which there are many, tends to be reserved for those in a very high-walled club, but here Newey lets us inside. The dark arts of downforce, efficiency and grip are seldom explained this effectively.

Adrian Newey’s autobiography/Formula 1 designers’ manual comes impressively close to doing what it says on the jacket, distilling some of the most complex but essential components and mechanisms on some of his most successful cars – such as the Williams FW14 and Red Bull RB8 – into plain English.

That’s not to say that this book is a mundane textbook, as Newey has managed to punctuate his explanations of rear-wing vortices and the like with hand-drawn diagrams to illustrate the point. It’s rare to have such accessible insight into the technical features of an F1 car and, with Newey at the helm, the reader is incredibly fortunate.

What transforms this book is Newey’s unflinching approach in detailing his mistakes and miscalculations – an essential part of anybody’s success, it seems. For example, his expulsion from Repton and his complete lack of motivation to tick the academic boxes on his way to the paddock are laid out in honest, often hilarious, detail.

Newey manages to open up the secrets behind his most dominant F1 machines with ease here, but it’s his admission and acceptance of mistakes and foibles that makes How To Build A Car inspirational. The only pitfall is that the next Formula 1 designer to write about their craft has a pretty high benchmark to hit. SK 

Published by HarperCollins
ISBN: 978-0008196806, £14

Mario Andretti
A Life In Pictures

Mario Donnini

In essence this is a pictorial overview of one of America’s most distinguished racers – but that description rather undersells the whole. In common with other sumptuous photo documentaries issued recently by Nada, this is both beautifully produced and, by contemporary standards, represents excellent value.

There is bilingual text (English and Italian) to provide some biographical context, but the images – particularly those of a young Mario – remain the outstanding reason to purchase. SA

Published by Giorgio Nada
ISBN: 978-88-79121-68204, £40.00

Memories of a Rally Champion

Chris Sclater with Jonathan Pulleyn

To anybody schooled on motor sport in the late 1960s and early 1970s, Chris Sclater’s name was almost as prominent within the ink-stained pages of Motoring News as those of Emerson Fittipaldi or Jacky Ickx.

As a newcomer he caused a stir by finishing as top privateer on the 1968 Gulf London Rally. He lifted the British Rally Championship title in 1971 and spent much of the 1970s as a factory Vauxhall driver – notably in Chevettes – before fading from the spotlight.

Now, almost 40 years since last he competed, Sclater has committed his memories to paper, assisted by those who competed with (or against) him.

‘Self-published’ is often a euphemism for ‘badly designed’, but that’s not the case in this instance. The cover shot of a sideways Chevette is a perfect symbol for what many consider to have been a golden era for rallying, particularly in the UK, and this is a pleasant jaunt through its core. SA

Published by
ISBN: 978-1-5272-1725-6 , £25.00

24 Hours of Le Mans

Official Review 2017

Everyone knows the drill with these Duke Video 24 Hours of Le Mans reviews by now: TV feed footage, Radio Le Mans commentary, and nothing but the drama. Gone are the days of the short one-hour films.

Arguably there should be room for both. For the YouTube generation four hours is a quite a commitment to sit down and reserve, though it’s barely a sprint race for endurance fans. But the old Duke films used to capture the essence of that year’s event, give context and take you to the town centre for scrutineering. Now it’s four hours of race footage only, starting on the grid and ending on the podium. Granted, 2017 had enough drama to fill more than four hours.

It’s a shame there have been no added insights, the bizarre story of why Kamui Kobayashi’s clutch gave up, say. Regardless, this will slot into the collections of fans and start up the fizz of anticipation for 2018. Just be sure to head into the extras to watch Kobayashi’s remarkable fastest average-speed lap, when he had the track all but to himself. JP

Produced by Duke Video

Das Buch zum Rennen
24 Stunden Nürburgring 2017

Jörg-Richard Ufer and Tim Upietz

Some official yearbooks are a touch homogenised and do their subject few favours, but this makes you want to jump in the car and set off for the Nordschleife yesterday.

The notion of GT3 cars hurtling around the ’Ring is as sound a concept as any in racing, but this extended photo essay captures the ridiculously full flavour of the 24 Hours, with a blend of racing (including the three-hour ADAC Classic and all other supporting events), peripheral action (such as the Falken Drift Show) and, most importantly, the undiluted madness of the trackside festivities. You might have little interest in seeing a group of middle-aged blokes dressed as nuns, but that’s by no means the weirdest thing you’ll see at the N24 and it all contributes to making this an event unlike any other on the planet.

This captures the mood perfectly, features bilingual text (German and English) and, with more than 260 pages, represents something of a bargain. SA

Published by Gruppe C
ISBN: 978-3-928540-90-2 €40.00