Veteran F1 writer Maurice Hamilton has a new book coming out on last year’s McLaren-Ferrari espionage scandal. I’m hoping to get a copy of it for review soon, but in the meantime I picked up one of his older titles.
“Race Without End” is the story of the Jordan Grand Prix’s 1993 season. Hamilton had unrivalled access to the Jordan technical staff, race drivers (including today’s most experienced driver Rubens Barrichello, then in his début year) and team boss Eddie Jordan.
It’s an absorbing behind-the-scenes account of the kind of under-funded plucky upstart of a team that, Super Aguri aside, F1 doesn’t have any more.
From outside the sport fans only see glimpses of life within an F1 team. We get fortnightly windows into their existence watching the races on television, we read reports about their testing programmes, the lucky ones might even get to go to a factory.
But it’s hard to get an idea of how a team actually works – how the sponsorship deals affect which research programmes get investment, how personal rivalries within the organisation affect performance, and what a string of poor results does to team morale.
The best bits of “Race Without End” is when it shows the team working in this way – you really get a sense of the competing priorities someone like Ron Dennis or Stefano Domenicali has to deal with.
It helps that Jordan Grand Prix always were one of the most charismatic F1 teams, and so the entertaining anecdotes are in plentiful supply.
Returning to this book 14 years on it offers one truly unexpected dimension. The story ends at the 1994 Pacific Grand Prix – just two weeks before the deaths of Ayrton Senna and Roland Ratzenberger at the San Marino Grand Prix that shocked the sport to its very core.
The lack of any sense of the trauma that lay just around the corner is a reminder of just how big a shock Imola ’94 was for the sport.
“Race Without End” is unusual and original and sadly I can’t imagine any of the current teams allowing anyone to get as close to their inner workings as Hamilton did. You have to wonder what it would have been like to have been a fly on the wall at McLaren last year…
Patrick Stephens Limited / Haynes
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