Ten Formula 1 books to read during lockdown

With no motorsport for the foreseeable future, Formula 1 fans need to look elsewhere to feed their racing addiction over the coming months.

Fortunately there are a plethora of motorsport books out there going back well over half a century covering the lives of the paddock’s brightest stars.

From Virginia Williams’ insight into the fortunes of her husband’s F1 team, to Niki Lauda’s newly-released, posthumously published autobiography, there is plenty to cater to all tastes available.

These books seek to provide a snapshot into the many facets of F1 from behind the scenes peeks at the lives of the drivers to the struggles of labouring in the pit garage.

There’s something for everyone from the casual fan to the dyed-in-the-wool devotees.

Murray Walker: Unless I’m Very Much Mistaken – Murray Walker

Paul Stoddart and Murray Walker

Photo by: Minardi Formula 1

One of the most beloved figures in motorsport, Murray Walker’s decades of experience in F1 have resulted in a vast collection of anecdotes and stories relating to the stars of the paddock. This autobiography contains the story of Walker’s incredible career, inside and outside of F1, with his enthusiasm for motorsport leaping off the page.

The Unknown Kimi Raikkonen – Kari Hotakainen

Race winner Kimi Raikkonen, McLaren

Photo by: Motorsport Images

The Iceman is the last person in F1 that would be expected to release an authorized biography, but in 2018 Kimi Raikkonen did just that. The usually exceedingly uncommunitive Finn allows readers a peek into his home life, with previously unseen photographs helping to illustrate his journey to the top-tier of motorsport. It’s by no means the most explosive tell-all ever written – but coming from Raikkonen, it is extraordinary.

A Different Kind of Life – Virginia Williams

Ayrton Senna, discusses his first run in the Williams FW08C with team owner Frank Williams

Photo by: Motorsport Images

Virginia Williams gives a different perspective on the success of the family-run Williams F1 team. While acknowledging the many highlights she does not shy away from the difficulties faced by the family. Life after Frank’s accident was difficult for all of them and Williams exposes the sheer perseverance and determination needed to continue.

Total Competition – Ross Brawn and Adam Parr

188Bet presentation with Ross Brawn, Managing Director of Motorsports, FOM

Photo by: Glenn Dunbar

While many F1 fans often think they know what they would do if they were in the position of a team principle, after reading Total Competition they might think again. Alongside exploring the complexities of leading a team, Adam Parr brings in his expertise to compare F1 strategy to the art of total war and the ultimate need to undermine the competition at every opportunity. There is also plenty on Ross Brawn’s career to date and even advice on how to achieve your own business goals.

Niki Lauda: To Hell and Back – An Autobiography – Niki Lauda

Niki Lauda, McLaren MP4-2 TAG

Photo by: Motorsport Images

Released earlier in 2020, this autobiography is a must for understanding Niki Lauda the man and not just the racing driver. In his remarkable life Lauda astounded everybody by overcoming severe injury to triumph again and the story is no less impressive coming straight from the horse’s mouth.

Chequered Conflict: The Inside Story on Two Explosive F1 World Championships – Maurice Hamilton

Fernando Alonso, McLaren MP4-22 Mercedes, 1st position, and team mate Lewis Hamilton, McLaren MP4-22 Mercedes. celebrate their McLaren one-two

Photo by: Steven Tee / Motorsport Images

It’s over a decade ago now, but the 2007 championship remains remembered for its controversies. Here Maurice Hamilton compares the season to the 1986 championship which was the last to have three drivers able to take the title going into the final race before 2007. From Lewis Hamilton’s debut to Spygate, this book will refresh fans’ memories on one of the most dramatic seasons in recent F1 history.

The Mechanic’s Tale – Steve Matchett

Steve Matchett, NBC Sports

Photo by: Rainier Ehrhardt

For a real look behind the scenes of F1 who better to ask but a mechanic? Steve Matchett recalls the highs and lows of being part of F1’s travelling circus in the 1990s and reveals the less-than-glamourous realities of the work that goes into a race weekend. It’s a reminder that motorsport is about a lot more than just the drivers and recognises the unsung heroes that provide the backbone of motorsport.

Jackie Stewart: Winning is Not Enough – Jackie Stewart

Jackie Stewart, Tyrrell 002 Ford

Photo by: Rainer W. Schlegelmilch

Scottish motorsport hero Sir Jackie Stewart has plenty of stories to tell about F1 in the 1960s and ’70s and he is able to give a real insight into the mindset necessary to succeed in such dangerous times. His life since F1 has been no less interesting, and from his time spent clay pigeon shooting to his international business career in later life he’s brought a winning attitude to everything he has turned to.

My Greatest Defeat: Stories of Hardship and Hope from Motor Racing’s Finest Heroes – Will Buxton

Alex Zanardi, BMW Team RBM BMW M4 DTM

Photo by: Masahide Kamio

This collection of insights from all across motorsport highlights drivers’ ability to overcome. From crashes and injuries to family misfortune, these stories are an honest and emotional look at the toll racing can take. With interviewees ranging from Alex Zanardi to Sebastien Loeb, it is impossible to come away from these tales without being inspired to find the positive in even the worst of moments.

Life to the Limit: My Autobiography – Jenson Button

Jenson Button, Brawn GP BGP001

Photo by: Steve Etherington / Motorsport Images

Jenson Button was the ultimate British underdog when winning the 2009 title and across his long F1 career he has been up against many of the greats. Button has fantastic stories about these things and more, but the real theme of this autobiography is a tribute to his late father, paddock favourite John Button. Their relationship winds itself across the pages as the most influential of his career through the good times and bad.

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