At the Goodwood Festival of Speed last year I got talking to James Mann, a photographer who told me he’d been doing studio shots of classic F1 cars for an upcoming book.
“Art of the Formula 1 Race Car” is the product of that work, a study of 18 of the most important, interesting and, often, beautiful F1 cars ever to be raced.
Publisher Motorbooks put out a similar title only last year – “Legendary Race Cars”, reviewed here in December. But “Art of the Formula 1 Race Car” is a much more successful (and F1-centric) execution of the concept.
The 18 cars have been chosen with a degree of imagination. As well the ‘usual suspects’ – Maserati 250F, McLaren MP4/4, Williams FW14 – there are some more unusual and curious additions.
Jack Brabham’s BT20, for instance, and Adrian Newey’s Leyton House-Judd CG901. That turquoise car may never have won a race – though it certainly came close – but the detailed study of this 20 year-old car tells you a lot about why the Red Bull RB6 is the car to beat this year.
From the faintly prehistoric front-engined machines of the 1950s, through the ground effect and turbo eras, right up to F1’a aerodynamic pinnacle in 2008, “Art of the Formula 1 Race Car” takes in the full breadth of F1 car design through the decades.
F1 journalist Stuart Codling gives an expert view on both the historical and technical stories behind each car, often with fascinating details on how design decisions about the cars were made.
The “commentary by Gordon Murray” advertised on the cover starts off well but by the later pages it’s clear at what point he lost interest in F1 car design. The later cars get just a couple of sentences each. A pity, as I’d like to have heard more of his trenchant views on the “dead end” of active suspension and traction control, and the “ugly” generation of F1 cars in the 2000s.
But it’s the sumptuous photography that really makes the book. Each car is brought to life in page after after page of close-up pictures exposing their intricacies fabulous detail. If F1 car technology is your thing, you simply have to buy this book.
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