The book How to be an F1 Driver is 2009 F1 World Champion Jenson Button’s fifth book about his life in the world’s fastest motorsport. The book discusses aspects of his personal life, with a focus on the technical side of F1. This review will give you an idea of what to expect from the book.
How to be an F1 Driver is a very good read if you’re a fan of Formula 1. However, it’s also worth the read if you’re a fan of motorsport in general. While it dives into the more technical aspects of race craft, it’s still very accessible for novices, and it’s an entertaining read as well.
Below, I’ll go over what I think the book does well, and where I think Button could have done better. Even though it’s his fifth book, I’ll treat it as a standalone title. So, is How to be an F1 Driver worth the read?
An Overview Of The Book
In How to be an F1 Driver, Jenson Button takes a step back from the limelight and discusses what life is like now that he’s retired. But while he does talk about some of the things he’s been getting up to since hanging up his racing boots, the bulk of the book is really about what it’s like to reflect on the sport now that he’s out of it for good (as a driver anyway).
It’s A Good Laugh
Button takes a humorous tone throughout the book which is to be expected. He’s looking back at things, so even when he’s talking about some of the most painful parts of his career it’s a lot easier for him to laugh about it. This makes it seem like a very natural read, and a very enjoyable one as well.
He gives interesting driver insights throughout, ones which are definitely useful for aspiring racing drivers but also just interesting for the armchair F1 enthusiast. He breaks up his personal stories with other anecdotes from other eras and reflects on what F1 has been like since he stopped driving for good in 2017.
The book is designed to describe what it takes to be an F1 driver, and we’ll talk more about how well he does that in the next section. But what the book excels at is giving you information about the world of Formula 1 from a different angle, talking about things you might not have thought about.
Full Of Useful Information
As I said in the previous section, what the book does a good job of is taking a unique approach to the world of F1. Button has long since retired from the sport while he’s writing this book, so it’s not a case of him simply telling you what he does every weekend. Instead, it’s more of a reflection, allowing him to take things at a slower pace and explain them from a beginner’s point of view.
Near the start of the book, he lays out a list of actionable steps to become an F1 driver. I liked the fact that the book serves as both a source of entertainment while also being straight up about the kinds of things you actually need to do and be aware of if you want to race in Formula 1.
Full Of Advice
With only 20 F1 drivers racing in any given year, the chances are high that nobody reading his book will actually ever make it to F1, and if any do that number will be very small. However, the book really just serves up some generally good advice for all kinds of racing, and indeed all aspects of life.
For example, one of the tips he gives is that you should always build relationships with your mechanics. He says it’s key to understanding how the car actually works, and to find out how the team works as well. Instead of just being the driver, you need to be part of the team. You’ll have a team at most levels of motorsport, so it’s easy for this advice to transcend down the ranks.
However, it’s also not hard to see how this advice can apply to other areas of life as well. For example, while a manager might lead a business (think of them as the driver) there’s obviously a lot to gain by getting on with their team of employees (think of them as the mechanics) to really understand how the business is doing and where it can improve.
More Technical Information
But he also talks a lot about the technical side of things like tire management and aerodynamics. He gives enough information to allow you to gain a decent understanding of these concepts, without going into too much detail that will leave you wondering what he was talking about. While often not the best descriptions, they’re adequate for beginners and those that already know their stuff.
So, it’s clear that you don’t need to have a desire to actually race in Formula 1 to get anything out of this book. But if you’re interested in any kind of motorsport, you’ll find plenty of pearls of wisdom. As a World Champion, Jenson Button is clearly able to draw on a lot of his own experience and success within the world of F1.
An Interesting Take On The World Of F1
Because Jenson Button is no longer a driver, and indeed at the time he wrote the book he wasn’t involved in F1 in any manner, he can dig into the more technical aspects of being an F1 driver without worrying too much about what he’s saying. From personal stories that his followers already know to lesser-known ones about other drivers that will give you a good laugh.
Behind The Scenes
He goes into a lot of detail about the kinds of things that go on behind closed doors in the world of Formula 1. This is great as we all wish we could be a fly on the wall in team meetings, and it lets you get a small glimpse of what the drivers do off track. He gives a decent account of his time at Brawn, with whom he won the 2009 World Championship.
He talks a lot about the money involved in the sport, from the sum’s teams spend on simulators and wind tunnels to how much he spent on his first motorhome. He even talks about how much the trophies cost if you want to keep a replica of your big wins! This is all interesting regardless of whether or not you even follow F1.
Who Should Read How To Be An F1 Driver?
With all of this in mind, it should be clear that anyone could pick this book up and enjoy it. While it’s good armchair reading for anyone interested in motorsport, it’s also full of some decent tips and information that fans of any sport would find interesting and useful. But the real selling point is Button himself, as he puts a lot of his humor and personality into this book.
Obviously, he probably did very little of the actual writing himself, but his personality still comes through very well even if it was all ghostwritten. What I will say is that it seemed to lack a solid structure in the second half. He includes some nice photo pages halfway through, but after these it seems like the book doesn’t flow as well as in the beginning.
The Second Half
While this isn’t a review on the quality of the writing, the end of the book is where you’ll find some of the only spelling and grammatical errors, and it might seem a little rushed. It’s still full of good information and is still entertaining, but it seems like the later chapters are not as well structured, and some of it feels like you’re almost reading a draft rather than a finished book.
With that said, it’s not the best book for those looking for a truly technical journey through the life of an F1 driver. However, it’s worth the read if you want a bit of a laugh and want to gain an insight into what it’s like driving in F1, and if you want to learn a bit about what Jenson has been up to since he retired from the sport.
Overall, Jenson Button’s How to be an F1 Driver will provide you with an entertaining and informative read. He does well to pack the book full of useful and actionable tips, without getting too boring or overly technical. Plus, it’s interesting to get a glimpse into the way the world of F1 has changed in the 20 years he’s been involved in the sport.