Chequered Conflict (Maurice Hamilton, 2008)

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Maurice Hamilton’s new book on the 2007 and the McLaren-Ferrari spy scandal has the full title, “Chequered Conflict: The Inside Story on Two Explosive F1 World Championships”.

What’s the other world championship? That would be the 1986 F1 series, which saw Alain Prost nick the championship at the last round from the battling Williams pair of Nigel Mansell at Nelson Piquet.

Hamilton’s engaging comparison of the two seasons is a fine read but it does have one flaw: the title.

The 2007 F1 season will go down in history as one of the most memorable the sport has ever season. But it will be remembered as much for controversy, scandal and intrigue as it was for what really matters, the action on the track.

The Guardian and Radio 5 journalist Maurice Hamilton has been around the circuits of the world for a long time and is as well placed as anyone to tell the tale.

He takes the unusual approach of threading a condensed history of the 1986 championship through the storyline, drawing parallels with how the sport has changed in two decades – becoming more professional but also more insular and litigious.

Being a history buff I lapped up all the back story on 1986 but it isn’t a substitute for what this book really needs and what it proudly boasts on the front cover: the inside story on what happened last year.

The FIA, for all its faults, has made appreciable progress in opening up its proceedings to public scrutiny, issuing comprehensive transcripts of the proceedings in the ‘spygate’ hearings involving McLaren, Ferrari and Renault. These were consumed with great interest by F1 fans, not least of which on this very blog.

There isn’t much new information beyond what’s in the transcripts, which many readers of this site will already be familiar with.

There’s also the question of whether now is a good time to try and cover the spying story in detail, when legal proceedings against some of the people involved have not yet concluded and further information may yet some to light.

I got a lot out of the historical perspective in “Chequered Conflict”, and I thought Hamilton did an excellent job of telling a complex and controversial story in an even-handed and reasonable way. But I think when a 99% of an F1 book could have been written by someone without a paddock pass then it isn’t an ‘inside story’.

Published March 3rd, 2008
Simon & Schuster
IBN 1847372686

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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2 comments on “Chequered Conflict (Maurice Hamilton, 2008)”

  1. I don’t know what people thinks in UK, but here in Spain, and also in internet forums, i think most of us are starting to feel tired of spygate, and the other Mclaren-Ferrari, Hamilton-Alonso-Dennis affairs.

    Within 3 weeks to the new season, I’m not in the mood of argue again about spygate and 2007 season.

  2. ive wanted to be done with it since last summer… so ironic that here in the US, there’s a new “spygate”

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