“Alex Zanardi: My Story” (Alex Zanardi with Gianluca Gasparini, 2004)

?????ǣAlex Zanardi: My Story?????? (Alex Zanardi with Gianluca Gasparini, 2004)I wonder if Michael Schumacher will ever write an autobiography?

I doubt it very much – he apparently has little interest in Formula One beyond the time at which he was active in it. It’s a shame – doubly so given how poor most of the biographies of him are.

But if there’s one contemporary driver who arguably has an even more interesting story to tell than Schumacher, it’s Alex Zanardi (‘Allessandro’ as he was known in his early F1 days).

Double CART champion Zanardi had two unsuccessful stints in Formula One, and his return to CART in 2001 saw him lose both legs in a terrible accident just days after 9/11.

It’s quite an understatement to say he had a lot of material to work with when penning his autobiography.

In the preface, Zanardi explains how he had the normal reservations about writing an autobiography – that it would be “self-indulgent” and so on.

The finished book is anything but self-indulgent, because Zanardi spends half the time talking about his friends, family and colleagues. That it isn’t self-absorbed is one of the book’s great strengths – even if some of the anecdotes about his Italian mates feels a bit Dawson’s Creek at times.

Of most interest to F1 fans will be his path to and arrival in the top echelon of motor racing. Not surprisingly, he has a few things to say about Schumacher along the way (and not just Zanardi’s involvement in the machinations that saw Schumacher move from Jordan to Benetton in 1991).

Zanardi is unflinchingly honest about his own performances and tells it straight when he feels he got things wrong.

That’s quite refreshing – and so is his attitude to the various characters he has had mixed relationships with. Whether they’re Chip Ganassi or Patrick Head, no-one is given either an outright trashing or reams of unstinting praise.

Anyone who’s read Dr Stephen Olvey’s Rapid Response will be familiar with the appalling details of Zanardi’s crash at the Lausitzring in 2001.

But in Zanardi’s book we see more of the agonising aftermath and long, painful rehabilitation. It’s by far the most powerful and moving part of the book.

Published in 2004, “My Story” concludes with his arrival in the European Touring Car Championship but, sadly, preceded his emotional first victory in the series in 2005.

Aside from this – and the fact that the chapter on his return to Formula One is disappointingly brief – I can’t fault this gripping and ultimately heart-warming read.

F1Fanatic rating

Haynes
2004
First published in Italy in 2003
184425108X

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