For those of you who remember Derek Daly’s racing career, who would you describe it if given just three words to do so? Fast? Erratic? Accident-prone?

Daly was one of the quickest drivers in the late 1970s, as his stardom and prowess behind the steering wheel saw him graduate to F1 within 13 months of winning the British Formula Ford festival in 1976.

However, once in F1, his star steadily waned and he slowly began to unravel under the pressure. To succeed in F1, you need more than speed, as Derek knows and will readily admit today. A driver who could have been one of the greats, Derek was not the complete package and didn’t know how to become the complete package. The result? A handful of blisteringly brilliant races, but at the end, not the complete enough driver to have a long-lasting and successful F1 career.

His natural speed earned him plenty of drivers in other series after F1, but it was much the same there too: flashes of brilliance with bouts of inconsistency…

Post-motor racing, Daly moved into the world of broadcasting, and became one of the key members of the ESPN commentary team, giving his countless viewers a unique insight into the world of F1.

Thereafter, Derek moved into the world of public speaking and established his own performance driving academy, which was very much the catalyst for writing this book.

Daly constructs and explains in detail what he calls the ‘Champion’s Pyramid’, essentially the six core attributes a driver must have to become truly great. Success in motorsport boils down to much more than being in the right team with the right car at their disposal. Daly, through his own obstacles he encountered, understands this and admits this more frankly than you’d expect, and draws upon his own experience and that of multiple other sources (current and former drivers, team bosses, expert journalists) to define each of the six key attributes that make up the Champion’s Pyramid.

To discount a book written by Daly would be a mistake. Sure, he’s no Ayrton Senna, Stirling Moss or Jim Clark, but he has taken a long hard look at himself in the years following his stint in F1 and come to the stark realisation of why he made certain mistakes along the way. In essence, he’s structured a clear development path for any aspiring racing driver to follow. I can’t say I’ve read many self-penned books from former F1 drivers who have written with such candour and honesty.

If you want to better understand the make-up of a Formula 1 driver, or perhaps you’re wanting to improve your own aptitude, or that of a family member, then I urge you to get this book and read it from cover to cover. You’ll have a far greater understanding of a driver’s skill and ability after reading it, and you’ll know that sheer speed is just part of the overall puzzle.

Using our unique ‘Chequered Flags’ rating system, we award Race to Win: How to Become a Complete Champion Driver…


Race to Win: How to Become a Complete Champion Driver (© 2008, Motorbooks, hardcover edition) is available at

Would you like to win a signed copy of Derek’s book? Then click here to find out how!

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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.