Book reviews, March 1989, March 1989

Driven To Win: An Autobiography, by Nigel Mansell and Derick Allsop. 157pp. 91/2 x 61/4. (Stanley Paul Ltd Co Ltd, 62-65 Chandos Place, London WC2N 4NW. £10.95).

The life story of Britain’s most successful Grand Prix driver of the Eighties has been told before, but sufficient controversy has surrounded this uncomplicated man to make the subtitle “autobiography” quite a draw. In fact there is little new here — previously unpublished stories are few and far between — though it is comforting to hear it from the horse’s mouth.

Ghost-writer Derick Allsop’s adopted style consists of alternating direct quotes from his subject with his own comments. but this is no dialogue: Mansell talks, Allsop interjects. explains and links. At no time does the Daily Mail journalist interrogate, or put his man on the spot.

This is a pity, for there are times when the frustrated reader will crave more meat to fill out the bare bones of such incidents as the Monaco and Detroit shunts of 1984 and the celebrated contretemps with Senna at Rio in 1986 and Spa in 1987, or such cars as the twin-chassis Lotus 88. Mansell covers everything of significance to his own racing career, but seems anxious not to outstay his welcome; a more selective approach to what in its later stages becomes a race-by-race commentary of the championship-chasing years might have helped.

Greatest insight into the Mansell persona is afforded by the chapters covering his early life and career and by passing references to his relations with others in the sport: good with Press and Chapman, bad with Piquet and Warr, improving with de Angelis and Rosberg, and deteriorating with Honda. With plenty of scandal, triumph and disaster involved, this cannot fail to be a fascinating tale, but for those who have followed the sport closely in recent years it will reinforce impressions already held rather than change or create them. GT