Formula One Years by Timothy Collings

Formula One Years by Timothy Collings and Sarah Edworthy is not the first book on Formula One I read. It is though the first history book about F1. On a Sunday, I was having a bit of time off and I was watching TV, when I saw the French Grand Prix, 20 years ago. The race was underway and I was fascinated by the times from the pit stops, the speed of the cars. Michael Schumacher won that race. Next race was in Silverstone and I watched it from the beginning. Michael Schumacher won that race again and with that he gained another fan. After a break, when he retired from F1, I’ve resumed watching F1 and enjoying this wonderful sport. I think it’s quite remarkable that I’ve finished reading this book just before the French Grand Prix, that will take place next Sunday, 24th June. If you haven’t watched a race before, do give it a try, you might see something you enjoy more than you can imagine.

The book was interesting for some parts. It was fascinating to see how the rules changed over time, how safety improved too. It shows the history of Formula One from when it started in 1950 and until 2004. It’s a description season by season and there are short biographies of the most important drivers (not always though, some of them could have been easily skipped).

Formula One Years by Timothy Collings

The style of writing is not the best, in my mind. The stories of each season are recounted race by race, but not in an exciting way, it felt more as a bunch of articles after the race. It didn’t have the flow expected of a book. Also, their biased is so obvious. The Italian fans are “fanatical tifosi”, Senna was one of the best drivers ever (something with which a non-Senna fan would, obviously, disagree) despite him being the only driver to actually punch another one – Irvine – after a race. Also, team orders were horrible and it’s good they were banned. I wonder what would they comment about the last seasons of F1, when Hamilton was one of the beneficiaries of team orders.

Reading about F1, from its first race to the ones in 2004, made me wonder why they were so reluctant to make the sport safer, with so many drivers killed in the races. Even after big crashes, the race would still go on. Spectators were killed, marshals were killed, mechanics were killed too. Some of the crashes could have been easily avoided with a seat-belt, that was invented but not used in F1 until the mid 60s, trees without any sort of covering, in which drivers plowed after loosing control of their cars and, obviously, resulted in their deaths.

I remember Schumacher’s accident in 1999 vividly, and his accident wasn’t as bad, only leg injuries that made him miss half of the season. I also remember Jules Bianchi crash, similar to one in which Alonso was involved, but Bianchi died. It’s wonderful the F1 sport is so much safer today.

Another thing to consider, after reading about all those races, is that there were boring seasons in the 50s-60s, there were lights-to-flag races too. It is not true that today F1 is not as exciting as it was 50 or 60 years ago. That was a preconception I had and I’m glad I’m wrong. Especially as this year the championship proves to be very exciting with multiple race winners and tight score points in the standings, at the moment being only 1 point between the first and second place.

Formula One Years by Timothy Collings, Sarah Edworthy

Details about the picture: The car is Michael Schumacher’s car from 1998, the first year I’ve started watching F1. It was a gift from my husband, proudly displayed on a book shelf in my living room.
My rating: 3.5/5 Stars.
Would I recommend it: Yes, if you are an F1 fan and you’ve watched it for years. Not so much if is something you want to learn about.
Published by: Carlton Books
Year it was published: 2004 (first published in 2001)
Format: Hardback
Genre(s): Non-fiction. Sport
Pages: 320

About the author: Timothy Collings is motor racing correspondent for Daily Telegraph. He wrote many books about F1, including biographies for Schumacher, Villeneuve.

Sarah Edworthy graduated at St Hilda’s College, Oxford University. She was assistant literary editor at Daily Telegraph. She moved to the sports department in 1994. Sarah helped David Coulthard and Eddie Irvine with their Telegraph columns. Her other books include Carry Me Home, Ben Cohen: My Autobiography and Hostage: A Year at Gunpoint with Somali Gangsters with Paul and Rachel Chandler.

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