The demand for Formula One content is higher than ever, thanks to the popularity of Formula One and the Lewis Hamilton vs. Max Vertappen race in Abu Dhabi. There are many books available for both novice and veteran fans.
Formula One books offer a mix of historical anthologies and autobiographies. They also provide detailed breakdowns of rules and regulations and technological innovation.
These books represent publications that have been published in the past 30 years. Many of them, however, are still very popular and remain in print. A reference list is provided below to make it easy to access various websites to order any books you are interested.
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1. The Unknown Kimi Räikkönen
Published by Simon and Schuster in 2019. Written by Kari Hotakainen. This international bestselling autobiography follows the life of notoriously elusive Formula One Champion Kimi Räikkönen.
Dubbed “The Iceman,” Kimi Räikkönen continued Finland’s long-standing history of world-class racing drivers while also emulating the most aloof and eccentric characteristics of his predecessors.
Exploring his career success in Formula One from his first race in 2001, his maiden championship win with Ferrari in 2007, and his induction into Alfa Romeo (the team from which he would eventually retire in 2021), this autobiography gives insight into one of Formula One’s most seasoned drivers.
Further to his Formula One career, the book also explores Kimi Räikkönen’s sabbatical in NASCAR and Rally driving while also spending the time to explore his upbringing, family relationships, personal life, and philosophies. Journalists have often evaded these subjects over the years.
In light of his retirement from Motorsports following his unceremonious exit from the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix in 2021, there is no better time to relive the life and times of one of Formula One’s cult heroes!
2. Different Life
Published in 2017 by Echo Point Books & Media, this book follows the relationship between Ginny Williams and Frank Williams following a car crash on the way to Nice Airport in 1986 that left Williams founder and principal in a quadriplegic state.
An honest and raw account of Sir Frank Williams’s success as the founder of Williams Racing and the tragedy that would befall him on the eve of winning his 3rd constructors’ title, this book tells a story of triumph over adversity.
The story was written by Ginny Williams as a firsthand account of her life before and following the accident. With the assistance of Pamela Cockerill. It covers her initial meeting and turbulent relationship with Frank Williams and their subsequent reconciliation after his accident.
A heartfelt, inspirational, and sometimes humorous story. A Different Type Of Life spawned a major motion picture along with international acclaim and remains the definitive account of Formula One’s most famous family.
In a similar vein to Kimi Räikkönen’s retirement, but on a more somber note, Sir Frank Williams passed away in 2021; as such, there is no better time than now to read the trials and tribulations of one of Formula One’s most celebrated figures.
3. Murray Walker: Unless I’m Very Much Mistaken
Published in 2003 and written by Murray Walker himself, this book shifts the focus away from Formula One drivers and principals and instead focuses on the familiar, public face of one of the sport’s most well-known commentators and public figures.
Named after his well-known catchphrase Unless I’m Very Much Mistaken This autobiographical account focuses on a figure who introduced millions of viewers into the world of Formula One.
As the model and blueprint for future commentators, the book follows Murray Walker’s journey through childhood under his British motorcycle champion father Graham Walker, his service in World War Two, and his failed motor racing career.
Fans of motorsport were fortunate to see his failure as a racer lead to his appointment in the BBC commentary box. His passion, insights and unique delivery helped transform Formula One from an obscure sport into something that is very popular.
Murray Walker is not afraid to speak his mind about Formula One’s evolution, the passing Aryton Senna and his partnership with James Hunt. He also shares his opinions on many drivers.
Murray Walker, who has nearly 50 years experience as a commentator or analyst, makes this an essential book for Formula One fans.
4. Total competition
Published by Simon & Schuster in 2017 and written by Ross Brawn with the assistance of Adam Parr, Total competition: Lessons from Formula One This is a mixture of modern motorsport philosophy, and life lessons.
Ross Brawn is one of the most accomplished technical directors and team principals of Formula One history. He draws from four decades of experience working with Benetton and Mercedes, as well as Ferrari, Honda and Honda.
Reflective and inspiring, the book reflects on the author’s interactions with world champion drivers such as Michael Schumacher, Jenson Button, and Lewis Hamilton to unpack successful (and unsuccessful) strategies and life lessons.
The book, which contrasts with their dominance and success in the pitlane, also gives a brutally honest account about the competitive nature of Formula One. It explains why coming second is not an option and how these pressures led directly to conflict with Bernie Ecclestone, Formula One boss.
This book is recommended for more seasoned Formula One fans that want to have a better understanding of the strategies of the sport and who may wish to implement this “win-at-all-costs” mentality into their own lives.
5. Niki Lauda: To Hell And Back
Published first in 1986, with a later revised version in 2021 by Ebury Publishing, this autobiography (written with the assistance of Herbert Volker and E.J Crocket) follows the life of one of Formula One’s greatest racing drivers.
His immortalization was made possible by Formula One legend and the blockbuster 2003 film. RushNiki Lauda, a driver and survivor in a life-threatening accident that left him permanently disfigured in 1976, has been a celebrity for his determination and perseverance.
Analytical, thoughtful, and fearlessly determined, this autobiography is written with Niki Lauda’s “no-nonsense” approach to life and work, outlying his challenges and rivalries throughout the years with his signature calmness and insight.
A raw and, at times challenging read, given Niki Lauda’s strict childhood, parental disapproval, and visceral depictions of pain he suffered while racing just 33 days after his Nurburgring crash; To Hell and Back is an unfiltered look at the life and philosophies of one of the sport’s most decorated champions.
6. Chequered Conflict
Published in 2008 by Simon & Schuster by Maurice Hamilton, Chequered Conflict: Inside Story on Two Exciting F1 World Championships The 2007 World Championship, one of the most storied Formula One seasons ever, is next.
As the first season since 1986 to feature three drivers entering the final race of the year with the possibility of being crowned world champion, the book chronicles Lewis Hamilton, Kimi Räikkönen, and Fernando Alonso throughout the season.
This book is a chronicle of the drama on and off the track. It includes allegations of spying between McLaren Ferrari and McLaren.
Maurice Hamilton, a journalist who has over 30 years experience and is an award-winning writer, weaves a tale of drama, conflict and triumph. He also compares 1986 with 2007 to give a comprehensive overview of the evolution of the sport.
7. The Fast Lane to Life
Published independently by Steve Matchett in 2018. Life in the Fast Lane The first book in the critically-acclaimed series Formula 1 Trilogy (The other two being: The Mechanics Tale And The Chariot Makers – both of which come highly recommended!).
The book takes a unique approach to story-telling, rejecting a grand narrative in favor of monthly diary entries from a Benneton grand prix mechanic time during the team’s turbulent 1994 season.
Steve Matchett is responsible for propelling author Steve Matchett to international fame as a commentator and analyst. Life in the Fast Lane It ignores Formula One’s glamour and focuses instead on the grim and difficult world in the pit lane and behind-the scenes life on track.
Providing a first-hand account of Verstappen’s fiery explosion at Hockenheim, the death of Senna, the penalties imposed upon teams throughout the heated season, and the collision between Schumacher and Hill to finalize the season; the book remains essential reading for any fan of the sport.
8. It is not enough to win
Published in 2009 by Headline and written by Sir Jackie Stewart, this autobiography follows one of Formula One’s greatest and most esoteric racing drivers.
Sporting his signature black cap, sideburns, and aviator sunglasses, Jackie Stewart’s domination throughout the 1960s and 1970s are given first-hand recognition as he powered his way to three Formula One World Championship titles.
But, despite his successes on the track and his personal story leading to his career, his rise as an internationally acclaimed businessman in the midst of controversy and celebrity provides insight into his life post-racing. This is something that few books on this topic explore.
9. My Greatest Loss
Published by Evro Publishing in 2019, Will Buxton wrote it (with stunning illustrations by Giuseppe Camuncoli, DC and Marvel fame). My Greatest Defeat: Stories of hardship and hope from motor racing’s finest heroes It is a must read anthology.
Although not strictly a Formula One Book, it includes stories from 20 great racing drivers from Formula One, Indycar NASCAR, Le Mans and Rally. This book is still a staple in F1 for its cross-pollination of stories about motorsport.
Featuring some of the biggest names in Formula One, including but not limited to Niki Lauda, Damon Hill, Alain Prost, Jackie Stewart, Felipe Masa, Mika Häkkinen, and Carlos Sainz, the book covers the flip side of success – that being defeat.
The book, while at times difficult and dark, celebrates the resilience and determination that prevails over hardships faced by some of the most successful drivers of all time.
This anthology, which spans decades and sports, and features a variety of world-class drivers is one of the most memorable experiences available for all fans of motorsport.
10. Jensen Button, Life to The Limit
This autobiography, published by Blink Publishing in 2018, explores the life and times of Jenson Button, Formula One World Champion and Sky Sports Commentator.
As one of the most seasoned Formula One drivers with over seventeen years of racing experience, the book follows Button’s career from nursing underpowered vehicles around the track to his extraordinary world championship win in 2009.
His extraordinary win with the unsponsored and unfancied Brawn GP team stands as a testament to Button’s time as a Formula One racer and the media’s portrayal of a disinterested playboy with minimal to no prospects of success in the sport.
Other than open and honest reflections about his relationship with his motorsport fan family, rivals like Lewis Hamilton, Michael Schumacher and Fernando Alonso, as well as Formula One figures like Ron Dennis, Frank Williams, Ron Dennis and Ross Brawn, are first-hand accounts.
Jenson Button, a Formula One driver, captures the real feeling of racing more accurately than other drivers. This is why his book. My Guide to Living In The Fast Lane: How to Be an F1 Driver As a complementing novel, it is highly recommended.
11. Formula 1: The Official History
Published 2020 by Wellbeck Publishing, written by Maurice Hamilton. Formula 1: The Official History This book is meant to be a central piece of Formula One literature, rather than a collection of individual stories.
This beautiful hardcover book is beautifully illustrated and traces Formula One’s history from the first race on the 13th.Th of May 1950, all through the 70 editions of the Driver’s Championship up until the 2020 season.
The book gives unprecedented access to all aspects of the sport. It charts the history of the sport in great detail. It also highlights the highs and lows, such as driver profiles, records and socio-political growth, diversity, safety and rule changes.
Leaving no stone unturned, this celebration of one of the world’s most popular and glamorous sports is well suited in the collections of new and veteran fans alike!
12. Senna Versus Prost
Published by Random House in 2010. Written by Malcolm Folley. Senna Versus Prost tells the story of arguably Formula One’s greatest rivalry between who many considered two of the greatest Formula One drivers of all time.
Most Formula One fans and competitors love the rivalries between drivers during a season. These rivalries often lead to conflict, drama and tension off-track.
Although initially McLaren were teammates, the clash between driving styles and personalities led to a rift that saw Alain Prost & Aryton Senna become enemies. They would not be able to continue being McLaren partners in subsequent seasons.
Alain Prost, as France’s sole Formula One champion, epitomized his moniker of “Le Professeur” with an intelligent, smooth driving style; this was seen in contrast to Aryton Senna’s intense and ruthless driving, which earned the Brazilian driver a fierce reputation.
Sadly, the rivalry would come to a tragic end with Senna’s fatal crash at Imola in 1994. The rivalry’s intensity has been maintained through Formula One folklore thanks to the insights of Martin Brundle (Damon Hill), Sir Frank Williams (Bernard Williams), Johnny Herbert (Johnny Herbert), and Gerhard Berger).
13. My Autobiography: “Watching the Wheels”
Published in 2016 by Macmillan, this autobiography marked the twentieth anniversary of Damon Hill’s coronation as Formula One world champion.
Damon Hill was able to overcome the legacy of his father Graham Hill by winning the 1996 World Championship. He competed against Ayrton Senna and Michael Schumacher on the way to victory.
Watching The Wheels takes an unflinching look at the realities of Formula One and the dangers the sport presents, whereby this confrontation with one’s mortality has haunted Damon Hill from the age of 15 as a result of his father’s early and tragic demise in an aircraft accident in 1975.
Further to this honest and candid exploration of his own mortality comes with his exploration of his teammate, Ayrton Senna’s death in 1994 and what this meant for Damon Hill as a teammate, rival, competitor, and father of a racing driver himself.
Formula One drivers in the golden era of Formula One often displayed a need for thrills at all costs (when compared with modern machinery and safety standards).
Graham Hill attempts to explain and understand the difficult concept of “reality” for third-party observers. He does this openly and honestly.
14. Flat Out Flat Broke: The Original Stig
PerryMcCarthy published this autobiography in 2013. It was originally published in 2013 and has been a bestseller.
While the focus of the book is not entirely centered on Formula One, it does follow the life of ex-Formula One driver Perry McCarthy and how, at the age of 18, he opted to break into the world’s most expensive sport with no money, sponsorship, familial connections or racing experience!
Despite these challenges Perry “Mad Dog” McCarthy achieved his dreams through a rollercoaster adventure both on and off the track, which eventually cumulated in his alter ego as “The Stig” on BBC’s Top Gear and international stardom.
At times “laugh out loud” funny, and at other times, a heartfelt and challenging read, Flat Out Flat Broke: The Original Stig This is a story that has never been told in the history and evolution of motorsport.
15. How to build a car
HarperCollins published this book in 2017. How to Build a Car: The Autobiography of the World’s Greatest Formula 1 Designer is a fascinating, humanizing memoir of one of Britain’s greatest engineers.
Considered by many to be a true engineering genius, this autobiography explores Adrian Newey’s deep fascination with cars from his early sketches as a 12-year-old student at a welding summer school, all the way up till his breakthrough designs in IndyCar and Formula One over the course of his 35-year career.
Adrian Newey’s book is filled with beautiful illustrations and passionate, detailed, engaging descriptions of the design process. This allows the reader to understand and connect with some of the most difficult feats of engineering ever seen in the history.
16. The Edge Of Greatness
Headline published the article written by James Allen in 2008 The Edge Of Greatness is considered to be one of the most thorough and honest explorations of Michael Schumacher’s entire career.
The greatest driver of all times, it was difficult to choose just one Michael Schumacher biography to include in this list. The Edge Of Greatness This reveals the true nature both of the sport as well as the driver: unrelenting determination.
Michael Schumacher was a controversial figure and role model for many Formula One fans who watched him in the 90s and 2000s. His career spanned 15 seasons, from his time at Jordan until his retirement, when he accumulated seven world championships.
Although the book was published prior to Schumacher’s tragic skiing accident and does not explore this aspect of his life, the details housed within explore the career and life of a driver that has seldom been topped by any other piece of media.
Formula One is an expansive, diverse and extensive sport. Over its long 70-year existence, it has had its fair share foes, triumphs, innovations and heroes.
This means that literature is available for everyone. The above list is just a small sample of the wealth of literature that can be enjoyed by all.