The great hopeless outfits of the early 1990s are a great source of comedy for F1 fans – whether it’s Andrea Moda sending Perry McCarthy out to qualify on wet tyres on a dry day at Silverstone in 1992, or Life’s farcically unreliable W12 engine in 1990.
It’s sad to think that there were cars built within the last decade or so that might well have bettered those notoriously hopeless entrants. But, through circumstance, they never raced. This fascinating new book tells their story.
Formula 1 is a secretive place at the best of times – never mind when a new team is putting a race effort together. The author has done an excellent job piecing togethe the details on some very obscure parts of F1 history.
The book covers an unusual assortment of machinery from very different backgrounds. There’s teams that collapsed entirely: Lold, DAMS; Prototype cars for new teams: Toyota, Honda; And an collection of oddities.
I found the peculiar tale of McLaren’s aborted MP4/18 particularly engrossing – the car on which the team gambled all to beat Ferrari, and lost. I remember seeing the first glimpses of the car four years ago and finding it radical and extraordinary. It looks so unremarkable now.
Unfortunately that chapter also shows up one of the book’s weaknesses – the lack of first-hand material about some of the cars. The MP4/18 is the worst case because no doubt it still shares some characteristics or design philosophies with current McLarens and the team wouldn’t want that kind of information getting out.
Elsewhere the author has clearly had access to more details and there are also some detailed and well annotated photographs.
I have a real soft spot for this book. It’s delightfully obscure and I’m sure there are plenty of dedicated F1 fans out there who will lap it up. It’s not perfect though – some of the cars included (like the aborted Premier 1 GP series car) don’t really belong in a book on F1.
I’d love to see the book spawn a series covering some of the earlier unraced F1 cars – such as Williams’ six-wheeled creation or Cosworth’s four wheel drive car. Fingers crossed…
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