This 350-plus-page book by Christopher Hilton explores “…the psychology of the fastest men on earth: sex, danger and everything else…”. Sounds tantalising, Inside the Mind of the grand Prix Driverdoesn’t it?

Hilton collates and examines a series of interview with several former F1 drivers to explore the world behind the publicity-oriented, media-controlled front that many often never penetrate in the world of Formula 1.

However, his introduction is perhaps a warning of things to come: “This is not a tidy book”, he writes, despite the fancy and artistic cover… If you need an example of not judging a book by its cover, then here’s your pick…

Conjure up an image of “the fastest men on earth”, and who will you think of? Senna? Schumacher? Alonso? Hamilton? A long list of other speedy, race- and championship-winning drivers? I thought so…

The likes of Mark Blundell, John Watson, Jonathan Palmer and Martin Donnelly are – while still extremely quick and race-winners in their own right in a plethora of formulae – are just not the drivers I’d list if asked to name “the fastest men on earth”. In fairness, there are plenty of considerable contributions from the likes of Niki Lauda, Johnny Herbert and Eddie Irvine (to name a few), but there’s far more discussion of Senna, Schumacher and Prost than discussions from them.

The discussion of “sex” – not that’s what I read it! – is limited to whether racing is better than sex. Perhaps they all know that answer… I’d rather have seen a more detailed (and frankly, little published) analysis on how the drivers juggle the pressures of their high-profile careers with a relationship, raising a family, and dealing with life after motorsport.

Rather, the focus seems to be on dealing (or not) with the big accidents that temporarily cast doubts on their abilities, or destroyed their careers for good.

I wanted more focus on the mindset of the driver and less discussion about the big shunt and its after-effects. This book was incredibly difficult to read, by dint of its clumsy structure and the interviews were very almost impossible to engage with.

If Hilton was worried about the tidiness of the book, then he should have engaged the services of an editor to clean it up and give it some proper structure.

I’m usually a fan of Hilton’s work – his Murray Walker: The Last Word is excellent –but perhaps I shouldn’t have placed my hopes in the fancy cover art…

Using our unique ‘Chequered Flags’ rating system, we award Inside the Mind of the Grand Prix Driver…

Chequered_flag (2)

OUT OF A POSSIBLE FIVE

… and one of these flags is purely for the arty cover design!

Inside the Mind of the Grand Prix Driver (© 2004, Haynes Publishing) is available at Amazon.com

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Richard Bailey

Founder & Chief Editor at MotorsportM8
Hasn't missed a Grand Prix since 1989. Has a soft spot for Minardi. Tattooed with 35+ Grand Prix circuits.

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