Review: F1 Retro 1980


Full disclosure: this book is published under the Motor Sport imprint, and written by our Grand Prix editor. So it comes with quality guaranteed, then. And certainly the book looks the part with beautifully designed pages on high-quality paper. 

The content matches the look and feel, too. This is the second in a series of books that Hughes hopes to produce, taking a single Formula 1 season and analysing it with the benefit of hindsight to discover how and why it turned out the way it did. The first book took as its subject the 1970 season, this one turns its attention to 1980. 

Why 1980? As the author explains in a compelling historical sweep that takes in everything from John Lennon’s assassination, the Cold War, and unionised Britain to the break-up of the Eagles and Nelson Piquet’s maiden Grand Prix win: “The ’70s were over, but it wasn’t yet clear what was coming in their stead.” 

Of course it is F1 – and in particular Williams that won the world championship for the first time that year – that Hughes focuses on and he does so by putting the season under the microscope from the perspective of today. That means with today’s technical understanding, today’s knowledge of how the sport developed from 1980 and what events and developments were upon reflection the most crucial. The result is that this is not another book content to wallow in nostalgia. It brings Hughes’s brilliant analytical mind and razor-sharp descriptive powers to bear on a season that had it all. It is particularly good on the politics of the sport and crucially the cars, and how the aero and engines influenced the direction of the season. So we find out exactly why one car worked and another didn’t. We learn the nuances of ground-effect aerodynamics, as well as discovering that while the downforce produced was no less than it
is now, it was 150 times what was being achieved in 1970. A joy to read.

Published by Motor Sport. Available to pre-order from

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