1982: The Inside Story of the Sensational Grand Prix Season, by Christopher Hilton
Hardcover, © 2007 Haynes, ISBN 9781844254040

1982: The Inside Story of the Sensational Grand Prix SeasonFour of the last five deaths in Formula 1 occurred in the month of May.

The 1994 season saw Roland Ratzenberger and Ayrton Senna perish within just over 24 hours of each other at the San Marino Grand Prix; the 1986 season saw Elio de Angelis killed in a testing accident at Paul Ricard; the thirtieth anniversary of Gilles Villeneuve’s death at Zolder was marked earlier this week.

The 1982 season saw a new consciousness in Formula 1: there came this realisation that the cars were still potential death traps, and several high-profile drivers and champions started to quit the sport.

With all the motorsport films in production, it’s a surprise that no one has yet thought to put this season into a movie. There’s certainly plenty of material to play with, as Christopher Hilton’s book ably proves.

Motorsport fans can always expect a few ‘season review’ style publications to hit the shelves in December every year, with the AUTOCOURSE annuals setting the benchmark almost without fail.

What makes 1982 interesting is that Hilton put this together 25 years after the fact.

But the 1982 season was unique in the sport’s history. Never have there been so many winners (eleven) in a single season, and no driver won more than twice all year.

But is was also a year of drama, tragedy, politics and intrigue. Every round brought with it a new headline story, whether it was the FOCA vs FISA battles at the San Marino Grand Prix, rife cheating among the the teams, the drivers’ strike in South Africa, or the bitter feud between Villeneuve and Pironi that the former took to his grave.

The year was Hilton’s first covering Formula 1, and his first race appearance came at the mid-season when the Daily Express newspaper sent him out to Detroit to cover the city’s Grand Prix.

The 1982 season saw an incredible eleven different race winnersAs an examination of book reviews prove, his books can be hit or miss affairs, but fortunately this is an excellent effort.

Each race is meticulously pieced together with a wealth of statistics and glorious photographs, along with Hilton’s excellent prose. There are also a great wealth of interviews that he was able to conduct with many of the sport’s stars who raced that year.

At times, there is a little too much reliance on repetition and second-hand material, and it sometimes felt like he struggled to helicopter up and give readers a broader picture of some of the machinations behind the scenes.

Nonetheless, Hilton (who passed away in 2010) must be applauded for the time and effort he took to put this together.

For a newcomer to the sport or for someone who doesn’t have a huge grasp of the 1982 championship year, this is a great place to start. For the more established and seasoned fans, this might fall a little short of your expectations.

Using our unique ‘Chequered Flags’ rating system, we award 1982: The Inside Story of the Sensational Grand Prix Season


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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.