F1 is the pinnacle of motorsport, not just in terms of the drivers that race, but also the teams, mechanics and other figures that make it so special. Whether you’re a new fan or one that knows everything there is to know about the sport, it’s worth checking out the best F1 books of all time.
The 15 best F1 books of all time are:
- The Champions: 70 Years of Legendary F1 Drivers
- Total Competition: Lessons in Strategy from Formula One
- How To Be An F1 Driver (Jenson Button)
- Michael Schumacher: The Edge of Greatness
- Senna Versus Prost
- How To Build A Car (Adrian Newey)
- Murray Walker: Unless I’m Very Much Mistaken
- Lewis Hamilton: My Story
- Formula 1: The Official History
- Niki Lauda: The Biography
- Watching The Wheels (Damon Hill)
- How Alan Jones Climbed To The Top Of Formula One
- Life To The Limit (Jenson Button)
- Aussie Grit (Mark Webber)
- The Mechanic: The Secret World Of The F1 Pitlane
Below, we will outline the best F1 books of all time, written by those who have experienced a first-hand account of what it means to be part of Formula 1. We will provide an in-depth look at each book and what makes these biographies, history lessons, and inside looks so memorable.
The 15 Best F1 Books
Author: Maurice Hamilton | Published: 2020 | Pages: 240
If you are looking to meet the best drivers in F1 history, Formula 1: The Champions: 70 Years of Legendary F1 Drivers is the ultimate book that will give you a crash course in F1. In this bestseller by Maurice Hamilton, you will find highly detailed accounts of each past F1 champion, featuring a photographic collection of their lives both on and off the track.
The book recalls the most memorable interviews with these legendary drivers, unforgettable quotes, and expert commentary from those who experienced championships alongside F1’s most iconic drivers.
This book is unputdownable if you are a die-hard F1 fan looking to relive the glory days of your favorite drivers. But if you are new to the sport and you are interested in appreciating those who helped pioneer F1 into what it is today, this is a book that you must add to your collection.
Maurice Hamilton has been around the F1 scene for over 45 years, and with over 20 books written on F1, there was nobody better qualified to pen one of the best F1 books of all time. Bernie Ecclestone wrote the book’s foreword, and he too has been involved in the sport for a long time, helping turn the F1 championship into what it is today.
2. Total Competition: Lessons In Strategy From Formula One
Author: Ross Brawn, Adam Parr | Published: 2017 | Pages: 336
Written by F1 managing director Ross Brawn, in partnership with former Williams CEO Adam Parr, this book takes a look at the strategic side of F1 that often takes the back seat over the high speeds and glamorous appeal of the sport.
From the mind of one of F1's most famous visionaries, this book is the perfect read for those that want to understand how everything works behind the scenes.
While both authors have a wealth of experience in the sport, Brawn brings a unique set of skills to the table, having spent many years with Ferrari and then creating Brawn GP – the 2009 championship winning team. Brawn is now the managing director of Formula One, and so his insight is unparalleled in this comprehensive guide to what it takes to compete at the top.
In this book, you’ll learn about the pressures of the F1 environment and what it takes to succeed, and you’ll also gain insight into when things can go wrong. The F1 world is notoriously ruthless, and you’ll experience just how cut-throat it can be in this excellent guide to the fastest motorsport on the planet.
While the book holds lessons applicable to other aspects of life, the F1 fan is the reader that will get the most out of it. It’s not just a technical look at the strategies being developed behind the scenes, as it also chronicles Brawn’s own career, discussing the highs and lows during his time spent at Ferrari, Honda and Brawn GP, making it an enthralling read for old and new fans alike.
Author: Jenson Button | Published: 2020 | Pages: 352
Jenson Button’s 2020 book How To Be An F1 Driver is the 2009 World Champion’s fourth autobiography. The book is the first to be wholly written when Button had retired from the sport, and so it’s a look back on his career in a unique way, with the helmet well and truly off (although he does still do some racing in different series).
But the book doesn’t just walk you through his career, and instead it goes through what it takes to be a driver in the pinnacle of motorsport. He talks about the mental side, the physical side, and the emotional aspects of F1 that make it such a challenging environment in which to perform at the highest level.
You’ll learn about the whacky purchases, the crazy off-track stories, and the relationships he has built up in his illustrious career. He discusses all of this from the viewpoint of someone teaching you the ins and outs of being an F1 driver – albeit in a very laidback manner.
You won’t learn how to perform better in your go-kart before you move up to the junior formulas, but you will learn more about the skills you’ll need to make the cut and the attitudes you’ll need to adopt. The book reads well, and Button’s sense of humour comes through on every page. If you’re a new F1 fan or a long-time watcher of the sport, How To Be An F1 Driver is an excellent read.
Author: James Allen | Published: 2008 | Pages: 416
Michael Schumacher was one of the greatest drivers in the history of F1, and this book by James Allen documents his career with more insight than any other F1 book out there. Schumacher is one of the best (if not the best) F1 drivers in history, so if you are new to the sport and looking for an in-depth account of a true legend, The Edge of Greatness is it.
Schumacher was one of the sport’s greatest, but also one of the most controversial, and this thorough account of his career will make you feel as though you are experiencing it right in front of you from cover to cover. Loved by fans and loathed by rivals, Schumacher’s ruthless tactics made it exceptionally tough for anyone to beat him in his pursuit of seven F1 world championships.
The books listed both above and below each hold their value to a certain degree, but if you are looking for the wildest ride on this list of the greatest F1 books of all-time, Michael Schumacher: The Edge of Greatness is that book.
Author: Malcolm Folley | Published: 2010 | Pages: 416
Senna Versus Prost is the book you want to have in your hands if you want a glimpse at one of F1’s greatest rivalries. Alain Prost and Ayrton Senna were once teammates, but they both had different driving styles and personalities that eventually made them hostile toward one another. This book recounts those hostilities and a rivalry that extended beyond the track.
In one corner stood Senna, whose driving style was one of the most intense in the sport’s history. In the other was Prost, whose analytical mind and clean style made many perceive him as the good guy on the track. The rivalry reached full tilt when Prost openly accused Senna of trying to drive him off the circuit.
This is a story that contains a tragic end to the rivalry, as Senna died in a crash at the 1994 San Marino Grand Prix at Imola. However, you will also find an interview with Prost, plus insight from a number of chief people around F1 who saw the rivalry erupt firsthand, to help you fully understand why they are two of the most revered F1 drivers of all time.
Author: Adrian Newey | Published: 2017 | Pages: 400
If you are looking to move your scope of F1 knowledge beyond that of the sport’s greatest drivers and to some of its most legendary designers, How to Build a Car: The Autobiography of the World’s Greatest Formula 1 Designer by Adrian Newey provides rich insights on Newey’s love for F1 cars that date back to when he was a student at welding school.
Newey’s career started with mere sketches as a 12-year-old kid during those school days, and he went on to create groundbreaking designs in both F1 and IndyCar. This book contains some complex discussions regarding engineering, so it may not be for everyone, but if you are into the science behind F1 car designs, it’s a must-read.
Throughout his illustrious 35-year career, Newey had just one goal in mind: to make a car go faster. And he accomplished just that. While this book breathes success, it does not come without tragedy, one of which being Ayrton Senna’s death in 1994. Therefore, it is a story of ups, downs, and the true genius of one of F1’s greatest minds.
Newey also included drawings that he never revealed to the public before this point. So, if you are looking for some exquisite illustrations, this book provides them. It is overall a thoughtful, inspiring book that will motivate you to pursue your dream, while also helping you understand the more technical side of F1.
Author: Murray Walker | Published: 2003 | Pages: 530
We all have that one enticing aspect that draws us into a sport and we become a fan for life. Sometimes, it is a driver that we follow. Other times, we have a relative who is a die-hard fan of a specific sport. And still other times, it is a voice we hear that makes the sport so much fun to watch and to follow. That unforgettable voice for many was that of Murray Walker.
From his ability to tell a story to his commentary ‘Murrayisms’ and everything in between, this book recalls the career of one of the sport’s greatest voices. But Unless I’m Very Much Mistaken goes beyond his time in F1. It also relives, in Walker’s voice, his childhood in the 1920s and 1930s, his experience in World War II, and some of those animated Murryisms.
This book lets new fans discover and lifelong fans relive that legendary voice that drew them into F1. And if you are interested in gaining insights into Walker’s life since he retired from full-time broadcasting in 2001, Unless I’m Very Much Mistaken will give you an experience you won’t soon forget.
8. Lewis Hamilton: My Story
Author: Lewis Hamilton | Published: 2007 | Pages: 324
Next up we have a book from the now 7-time World Champion Sir Lewis Hamilton. The book was written long before even his first title came along though, and so this book takes a look at the driver’s story up until the end of his rookie season in 2007, when he almost won the title (he would of course go on to seal that maiden championship a year later).
If you weren’t a fan of the sport back then, this book offers a great glimpse into the world of years gone by in F1. However, the real value of the book is in Hamilton’s story, talking about his upbringing in great detail, and his journey from karting up through the motorsport ladder. This is a book that explains the true challenge that is reaching Formula 1.
While the book doesn’t go into too much detail about his junior racing career – it may leave you wanting more in that respect – it’s still well worth the read for those that want to get a better understanding of what helped shape the most successful F1 driver into the champion he is today.
Author: Maurice Hamilton | Published: 2020 | Pages: 272
Maurice Hamilton is one of the most renowned authors in F1 (featuring multiple times on this list for good reason), and he returns here to provide you with an in-depth history of the sport in the only way he knows how: to zero in on the most memorable stories regarding the sport’s drivers, teams, on-track incidents, and key rule changes.
There are a few books on this list that have the potential to turn you into an F1 connoisseur overnight, and Formula 1: The Official History is one of those books. Besides detailed tales from the track, you will also find over 250 high-quality photographs featuring some legends of the sport.
So, whether you are simply looking for a visual history of F1 or if you would rather read the tales word for word, look no further than one of Maurice Hamilton’s most accomplished works that includes a foreword by Ross Brawn. And since Hamilton has unique access to F1, you are getting a true close-up of one of the world’s most popular sports.
Author: Maurice Hamilton | Published: 2021 | Pages: 384
Regardless of the sport, there is always one individual who always overcomes impossible odds to return to a sport that they love. This book, written by none other than Maurice Hamilton, chronicles the life of a driver who was involved in such a bad crash that he was administered last rites, yet he wound up surviving and returned to racing just six weeks later (and he won two more championships).
But of course, this was just one aspect of Lauda’s story. He was a straightforward individual, and that is exactly the tone you are getting from the incredible author that Maurice Hamilton is. This adds such an authenticity to the work that you would have thought Lauda himself had authored it.
You will also find those closest to Lauda reminiscing on his racing career, although the book does not go into deep detail regarding the driver’s time at Mercedes as non-executive chairman. However, there are inspiring discussions beyond Lauda’s crash, one of which included the fact that his family was not thrilled with his ambition to become a championship driver, feeling racing was beneath them.
Having faced long odds since childhood, Lauda overcame them all and he ended up winning 25 races and three championships in what is one of the most storied and inspiring F1 careers of all-time. If you are a new fan, this book is one that will rank near the top of your wish list.
Author: Damon Hill | Published: 2017 | Pages: 400
Damon Hill, like a few F1 drivers, possessed bloodlines that garnered sky-high expectations. Unfortunately for Hill, he had to live in the shadow of his championship-winning father, Graham Hill. And this was by no means an easy endeavor, as Hill not only had to battle his father’s legacy, but F1 rivals that included the likes of Michael Schumacher and Ayrton Senna.
However, Hill overcame all of the odds stacked against him, from casting himself out of his father’s shadow to beating his rivals and winning the 1996 World Championship. Now, if you thought Watching the Wheels only documented an inspiring tale of a driver who created his own legacy, you are wrong.
One of the themes in this book deals with mortality, two of which hit home for Hill. The first involved his father’s death via an aircraft accident in 1975 and the second was Senna’s death in 1994. This theme makes the book every bit as heart wrenching as it is inspiring. So, if you are interested in reading this memorable tale, brace yourself for an emotional roller coaster.
Author: Alan Jones | Published: 2017 | Pages: 416
If you are looking for a rather obscure but inspiring read, AJ: How Alan Jones Climbed to the Top of Formula One by Alan Jones himself is the book you are looking for. He became the first driver to win the World Drivers’ Championship with the Williams’ team and he was also the second Australian in F1 history to win, behind Sir Jack Brabham.
This is a great book for those that want to learn more about Williams' first World Champion, and how he got to the top of the motorsport ladder.
The book covers yet another controversial figure in F1. Jones called things the way that he saw them, and he worried little about what the rest of the F1 universe thought, and that is the tone he has set in this book.
Like many autobiographies on this list, Jones’ story goes beyond the F1 track. It follows his personal life, business ventures, and some rather humorous events that occurred both on and off the track.
And in a sport that requires immense sums of money, Jones did not always have the financial backing needed, something this book touches on. Still, he persevered, and that perseverance culminated in his 1980 championship. Jones became a man of legend in F1 circles, and now you can experience or relive the inspiring career of such an illustrious driver.
13. Life To The Limit (Jenson Button)
Author: Jenson Button | Published: 2018 | Pages: 352
This book, told in a humorous tone, is a lighthearted inside scoop that does have its somber moments. The book is also easy to read, and it contains varied chapter lengths, some of which contain just a few pages. So, if you are taking a quick 30-minute break from work or if you have somewhere to be and you just need something to do for a few minutes, this book makes for the perfect read.
Life To The Limit: My Autobiography also recounts much of Jenson Button’s life off the track, such as growing up in the West Country, and his internal struggles, ups, and downs that came with making it as an F1 driver.
At the end of the day, F1 drivers are every bit as human as the rest of us, even if we look at them as legends putting their lives on the line. And if there is one book that exemplifies this fact, it is Jenson Button’s third autobiography (with another great choice being How To Be An F1 Driver).
Author: Mark Webber | Published: 2016 | Pages: 432
You don’t need to hail from Australia to enjoy one of the sport’s most unforgettable drivers. This book, penned by and written in Mark Webber’s voice, details the struggles that came with a legendary fight toward the top in F1. And this book particularly relives his time with Red Bull Racing, focusing mainly on the year 2010.
Mark Webber is one of modern Formula 1's most talented drivers not to win a World Championship, and this book tells the story of his life before, during and after F1.
In 2010, Webber and his teammate, Sebastian Vettel, battled it out for the World Championship. And although Webber lost out, he still enjoyed a career that led him to finishing third for the World Championship not just in 2010, but also in 2011 and 2013.
The book also chronicles Webber’s retirement and life after his F1 career, especially giving insight on his time as an endurance racer. You are also reading a tale where Webber sugarcoats nothing, so brace yourself for an explosive ride regarding that battle for the 2010 World Championship that lifelong F1 fans remember to this day.
Author: Marc Priestly | Published: 2018 | Pages: 256
Whether you are a new fan or a lifelong fan of F1, your bookshelf is not complete until The Mechanic: The Secret World of the F1 Pitlane is residing in it. Marc Priestly takes you behind the scenes into the pitlane as an F1 mechanic, where you will gain incredible insight on just how much work goes into the mechanics of these lightning-fast cars.
This is a great read for those that want to learn a bit more about some of the unsung heroes of an F1 race, and how an F1 mechanic lives both in and outside of the pit lane.
Priestly outlines the technical aspects of the cars, and what exactly goes into them that allows F1 drivers to perform at such a high level at every Grand Prix. While the drivers will always be the stars and the main attractions at the track, they owe everything to the engineers who boast the skill, competitive drive, and knowledge to build the fastest racing cars.
Besides gaining some cool insights on the technicalities of these cars, you will also catch a glimpse at the luxurious lifestyles some of these engineers live when they are not building a winning car. So, if you would like to experience more than just the work life of an engineer, this book is a must-have.
The best F1 books of all time don’t just talk about the sport’s history. While they are important and worthwhile for any new fan of the sport to read and gain an appreciation for, it is the individuals, from those driving the cars to others building them, that have, in turn, made F1 into the spectacle that it is today.
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