With just over a week to go until Christmas, one might still be worried about finding a gift. If there’s a Formula One fan in your family: worry no more, because Motorsport Week has found you the perfect gift.
As far as sports go, few can arguably hold a candle to the absurd number of facts, quirks and figures Formula One has racked up throughout its decades of history. And with each passing race seemingly adding further facts and figures to the pile, it might seem impossible to keep track of it all without losing your mind.
Luckily, there are means of helping you find your way through F1’s dense forest of historic tales. A quick Google search might obviously do the trick, but a printed out internet search query won’t look anywhere near as good on the coffee table as Formula One – The Knowledge, written by David Hayhoe and published by Veloce Publishing.
Formula 1 – The Knowledge is a 500+ page mammoth of a book, which features just about every bit of information from F1’s history – spanning from the very beginning of the great sport up until 2018.
Hayhoe, the author, is based in East Sussex and has been active as a Formula One record keeper and statistician since the late 1980s and has published a number of previous books on the great sport. This is the second expanded and updated version of the book and came out earlier this year.
When you take a look at Formula 1 The Knowledge, you’re immediately greeted on the cover by pictures by two of F1’s greats: John Surtees and his Ferrari F158 and a more recent star in Fernando Alonso, driving the endlessly gorgeous Renault R26 in Monte Carlo. Inside, you’ll find many, many more beautiful images from the great sport – many of them captured by the author himself. Much like the book itself, the images span just about all of F1’s history, from Emmanuel de Graffenried’s 1954 Maserati A6GCM to Charles Leclerc in his Sauber days, ending with Lewis Hamilton celebrating his fifth world championship in Mexico in 2018. James Hunt, John Watson, Gilles Villeneuve, Ayrton Senna, Michael Schumacher, Max Verstappen: they’re all in there for you to look at.
There’s more than just pictures, though. One of the most fascinating things about Formula One is how pundits always seen to be able to fire off the most random and obscure facts at a moment’s notice. With this book, you’ll readily be able to join them at the next Grand Prix with a bafflingly vast amount of information. It’s all presented in a nice manner, and goes amazingly in depth. Did you know, for example, that the V8 engine format has been used in 654 races by 9,563 cars? Or that Goodyear tyres scored their 350th Grand Prix victory at the 1997 Spanish Grand Prix? Or that only two drivers have won a race on their birthday? Those were James Hunt in 1976 and Jean Alesi during his only win in 1995, by the way.
With such vast quantities of information available, you would be forgiven for getting a bit lost. Luckily, Hayhoe has filed everything in orderly chapters and subchapters, making it easy to swiftly find the information you need. If you, for example, need information on world champions, just seek out the corresponding chapter, and you’ll find every world champion statistic you will ever need.
While some facts could be guessed, some of them go into downright obscure territory. For example, it lists Peter Collins as the only driver to have driven four (!) different cars during a race weekend and has a handy list of every single occurance of a national anthem mix-up after a Grand Prix, or every time an animal accidentally made its way onto the circuit. Or that Jackie Stewart wrote book on books on dogs and dyslexia. And as it turns out, Romain Grosjean already has a second career lined up if he ever loses his Haas seat: Formula 1 The Knowledge reveals he’s written a cooking book with his wife!
There’s also lists on every race winner, podium finisher, pole position starters, fastest lap driver, point scorers and race leaders. You name it, chances are: it’s probably in there somewhere. There’s even a list of every time a driver got in trouble with the law. Nice gossip material.
And if that is not enough, there is comprehensive data on every regulation change, qualifying procedure and race win in all of Formula One history. Fearing you’ll having nothing to do during the dark days of the Formula One offseason? This book will have you reading until next year’s Abu Dhabi season finale.
As a quick note: you shouldn’t come to this book looking for stories or rich tales from the sport’s history. The author’s nature as a statistician shines through in that all of the information has been painstakingly gathered and listed. Apart from the first chapters, however, there’s relatively little actual storytelling. Not that that is a problem, however. For one, it’s not in the book’s nature, and as always, the facts of F1’s history do have a tendency to become stories all on their own.
For me personally, the absurd and obscure facts about Formula One are some of my favorite things about the sport. Interesting bits you can discuss with friends in the pub, or facts you can post online whenever your least favorite driver writes off another front wing. And with this book, you are more covered than you can ever wish for. It is a wonderful collection piece for any fan of the sport and will look great on the shelf or in your bookcase (or the coffee table, obviously). If you’re not a statistician, even the high quality picture gallery itself is more than enough to make this an excellent addition to your collection.
And with christmas coming right up, it might be the perfect time to snatch up a copy and lay it under the tree. Just make sure you take a day or two off work after the holidays are over – you’ll need it to get through all of it, and all of it will be worth it.