I think we need to applaud the FIA for the raft of regulation changes they brought in for the 2009 Formula 1 season. Although incredibly intricate and highly sophisticated, the likes of the McLaren MP4-23 were horrible to gawp at.
Chimneys, winglets and other random bits and bobs made it, and the other 2008-spec F1 cars, look as though they’d been covered in superglue and gone ram raiding through a carbon fibre workshop.
To this day though, the aforementioned McLaren is one of the most technologically advanced race cars ever created and – depending on whether you walk around with a white cane or not – could be seen as a thing of beauty. Its inclusion, therefore, in Stuart Codling’s Art of the Formula 1 Race Car is acceptable then.
The MP4-23 is just one of the eighteen iconic grands prix vehicles that have been expertly chosen by Codling to feature in his first ever book. Covering almost sixty years of Formula 1 history, Art of the Formula 1 Race Car is perhaps the ultimate coffee table book for motor racing enthusiasts.
I actually hate the term “coffee table book,” and with good reason. It tends to suggest that, in the pursuit of a light read, the material contained within has the depth of a puddle and lacks any analysis, which certainly isn’t the case with this book.
It provides a wealth of historical and technical information behind each of the vehicles featured – every single one of them complimented by some frankly gorgeous photography courtesy of one of the world’s leading automotive photographers: James Mann.
From the prehistoric to the aerodynamic behemoths of recent years, the full kaleidoscope of F1 car design through the past sixty years is highlighted within.
Starting with the 1950 championship-winning Alfa Romeo 158 and concluding with Lewis Hamilton’s title-winning MP4-23, each of the cars profiled have been selected out of beauty and innovation. Which is why, aside of the usual suspects, the likes of Jack Brabham’s BT20 and Adrian Newey’s Leyton House-Judd CG901 have been included, and rightfully so.
Codling clearly knows his racing onions and his knowledge and enthusiasm for each of the subjects is clear to see. His well-written prose is duly matched by the fantastic pictures that highlight the intricate detail of each race car.
Art of the Formula 1 Race Car also features commentary by renowned designer Gordon Murray who, amusingly, seems to lose all interest in any Formula 1 car post 1991. Justifiable to a point, it would have been ideal to prise more out of him, even if it meant prodding him with a stick to do so.
With expert analysis and superb photography on every single page, Art of the Formula 1 Race Car should adorn any motor racing fan’s bookshelf (or coffee table I guess), it really is an essential purchase.