When Eddie Jordan was famously outmanouevred by Flavio Briatore in 1991, losing the coveted contract to run Michael Schumacher, McLaren boos Ron Dennis strode up to him and simply said: “Welcome to the Piranha Club”.
That evocative phrase is the starting point for Timothy Collings’ investigation of Formula One’s clandestine corridors of power.
There are many F1 fans who think of the sport as only that – a sport. And I’m tempted to think that they may get a lot more out of it by adopting that one-sided view than those, like myself, who strive to understand how it works, who runs it, and whether they’re doing a good job.
Collings’ book is focused on the business side of Formula One and largely consists of biographies of the leading team owners and most powerful individuals.
If you’re new to the ‘political’ side of the sport then the short biographies of the principal characters make for an easy way in – but if you’re read Terry Lovell’s biography of Bernie Ecclestone, or Richard Willams’ of Enzo Ferrari, then those chapters can easily be skipped.
I particular enjoyed the piece of Colin Chapman, but thought Collings treated the awkward subject of the DeLorean debacle somewhat gingerly.
The prose is very fine – meticulously researched and brimming with insightful interviews. And, for the main part, well organised, though towards the end of the book the focus is lost somewhat and it lapses into a simple chronology.
I would especially have enjoyed more on Max Mosley, whom one always finds is given second-rate treatment in these books to Bernie Ecclestone.
But with plenty of behind-the-scenes insight and a solid covering of the historical background, “The Piranha Club” is a detailed look at Formula One’s power brokers.
F1 Fanatic rating
First published 2001
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