Reviews, November 2015
Aussie Grit: My Formula One Journey
The world is littered with sports biographies that are either a) published before the subject has any story to tell or b) so politically neutral as to be utterly pointless. This is the polar opposite, an object lesson in how such tales should be told.
Webber was often outspoken during his time in F1 and pulls even fewer punches here.
His analysis of Mercedes-Benz’s attitude at Le Mans in 1999 – where he somersaulted twice in as many laps – is brutally revealing and makes you wonder how and why Stuttgart wasn’t awash with P45s for several months afterwards. His father Alan provides a vivid account of the way he was treated that weekend: 16 years on, it should still make you feel angry.
There is no shortage of material in the Webber canon, from his early days at home to time in the Red Bull spotlight via an unhappy stint at Williams and a private chat with Michael Schumacher about the intent or otherwise of his actions during Monaco GP qualifying in 2006.
We won’t give away all the details. They are yours for a very fair price. SA
Published by Macmillan
ISBN: 978-1-5098-1353-7, £20
Gasoline and Magic
If this had a plot, it would be one of the most convoluted in literary history. But it doesn’t. Rather, it bounces cheerfully from Monza to Elkhart Lake, Shelsley Walsh, Reims and elsewhere because it can. And it is all the better for it.
Collated by Swiss archivist Thomas Horat, this is a fairly random photographic assortment drawn from a blend of professionals and amateurs, all part of a (growing) 70,000-image library that Horat hopes will “keep the history of our sport alive”.
Here, the result is an elegant blend of action and atmosphere with bits of grainy charm thrown in. There are many reminders of the wonders of open, grassy paddocks, the idiosyncrasy of 1970s hairstyles and the advantages of a world that had yet to be stifled by health, safety or any combination of the two. SA
Published by Edition Patrick Frey
ISBN: 978-3-905929-88-1, €54
Hitting the Apex
Produced by Brad Pitt and directed by Mark Neale
Are we in the sunset years of Grand Prix motorcycling’s greatest era? This excellent documentary supports that case. It is narrated by producer and racing fan Brad Pitt, but Hollywood’s leading man takes a supporting role to Valentino Rossi, Casey Stoner, Jorge Lorenzo, Marco Simoncelli, Marc Márquez and Dani Pedrosa. The film cracks along at a pace befitting its subjects, kicking off with lovely archive footage of the racers in their youth.
In Stoner and Simoncelli, we are reminded what MotoGP lost when the former retired aged 27 and the latter died at Sepang in 2011. Stoner’s cringe-inducing “your ambition outweighed your talent” response to Rossi’s half-hearted apology for taking him out at the 2011 Spanish GP is wonderfully waspish.
If only he were still racing.
Pitt should make a Formula 1 version, but imagine Bernie’s fees… DS
Universal Studios, limited cinema release and on Blu-Ray and DVD, £19.99