F1 Retro: 1970

Mark Hughes

It’s all been written before, hasn’t it? Well, no, as it happens. The 1970 Formula 1 season is well documented as a landmark year in the history of motor sport, for reasons good – and unforgettably, tragically and horrifically, oh so bad. Yet despite all that has been published before, 44 years after the events unfolded Motor Sport’s new Grand Prix editor has produced a book that should now be considered the definitive account.

Such a statement means no disrespect to what has come before.

In the first volume of what is planned as a long-running series, Mark Hughes has reviewed every detail of a season that included game-changing technical developments and events that would shape the future of F1. The passing of time, perspective and the huge advantage of hindsight allows the author to cast new light on every aspect of a dramatic racing season.

Most specifically, this was the year of the Lotus 72, a car that pointed towards ground effects and drew a thick line between the new decade and the passing of the previous one. Hughes calls on physicist and aerodynamicist Dr Gordon McCabe to highlight its strengths, but with the help of modern Computational Fluid Dynamics also reveals deficiencies that prove it wasn’t (at this early stage) so far superior to the beautiful Ferrari 312B, the pragmatic Brabham BT33 and the Johnny-come-lately March 701 as sometimes stated.

The engrossing prose leads us through an overview of the season, new and detailed race reports of each world championship round, technical analyses of each car, profiles of the drivers and a chapter on the tyre war between Firestone, Dunlop and Goodyear.

Accompanying the words is a fantastic collection of photographs.

They’re all drawn from the much-plundered LAT archive, but Hughes has pulled off a remarkable feat here. We thought we’d seen all that LAT had to offer on 1970. Wrong. He delved into the photo library himself to find images and pulled out some stunners, many of which are new to our eyes and, in all probability, to yours, too.

High-quality paper and classic, clean design delivers a volume that can only be described as a triumph.

Buy it and you’ll fall in love with it, too. DS

Published by Cluster, ISBN 978-0-95702-552-3, £49.99