How To Build A Car, by Adrian Newey
© 2017, ISBN 9780008196806 (Hardcover)

Any true fan of Formula 1 will know Adrian Newey is one of – if not the – best designers ever to have set foot in the sport. The quiet Englishman still creates every one of his designs the old-fashioned way: with a set of pencils.

This is the man who took the little Leyton House team from backmarkers to podium winners in just a few short years before he was headhunted by Williams, designing its all-conquering FW14B and FW15C that swept it to the 1993 and 1994 World Championship crowns. In the late nineties came the McLaren MP4-13 and MP4-14 challengers which won the 1998 and 1999 titles, followed by a switch to Red Bull Racing where his cars thrashed the field between 2010-2013.

What is less appreciated, until now, is that Newey is just as good on a keyboard.

F1’s star designer delivers one of the most striking and compelling sports autobiographes to have graced bookshelves this year. It’s a striking book, and unlike Jenson Button’s Life To The Limit (also published this year) there’s very little left off the pages.

Among the most interesting stories are the details behind the teams who threw away their chance to keep him: namely Williams and McLaren. Newey tells his side of the breakdown that developed between he and Williams’ top brass, prompting his move to McLaren. His relationship with McLaren boss Ron Dennis was uneasy, despite the success he brought, eventually triggering his move to his current home at Red Bull Racing.

The rest, as they say, is history.

His early life is told with humour and honesty, despite the at-times painful memories of being the awkward, outsider kid who was more at home in an engineering class than on a sports field.

His writing is surprisingly uncluttered, complemented by detailed and insightful sketches of the key parts of some car designs to help readers understand the technical innovations he helped lead.

The stand-out chapter is his examination of the Williams FW16 he designed for their 1994 campaign, at the wheel of which the great Ayrton Senna was killed in Imola. It remains the only fatality in a Newery-designed car, and the pain of this still haunts him. His revealing analysis of the car’s shortcomings is laid bare.

The book’s title is in essence misleading. This offers much more than an analysis of how his most iconic cars were created, but an honest, forthright look in the mirror at one of the sport’s greatest minds – a talented, flawed, genius.

This is essential reading for all motorsport fans.

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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.