McLaren – The Drivers reviewed

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Minutes before pulling the covers off their 2013 F1 challenger McLaren began paid tribute to Bruce McLaren in a short video recalling his life.

The team’s founder was, of course, its original driver. Since his untimely death at Goodwood in 1970 almost 300 drivers have got behind the wheel of his cars, including some of F1’s most famous names.

McLaren – The Drivers is the third in a series of books chronicling the team’s history, following The Cars and The Wins.

Although it’s the same size as the two prior books, the density of the text inside is considerably higher. The Drivers will take more time to get through, as it gives potted histories of every driver who ever raced a McLaren.

Exhaustive in its range, it goes beyond just F1 drivers who raced for McLaren to include those who competed in IndyCars, endurance racing and defunct series such as Can-Am and Formula 5000. It’s doubtful author David Tremayne has had time for much else while researching and writing this vast project.

As an exercise in illustrating how the name McLaren is writ large across motor racing, it’s brilliantly conceived. Many great names who never drove McLarens in world championship F1 races appear in its pages, including Graham Hill (sports cars), Phil Hill (sports cars) and Mario Andretti (IndyCar). Other notable names to feature include Rene Arnoux (F5000), Carlos Reutemann (non-championship F1) and Ralf Schumacher (sports cars).

Naturally the most significant drivers in the teams’ history are given the most expansive treatment. But those who achieved greatness elsewhere are also given suitable biographies.

Gilles Villeneuve “would undoubtedly have been a world champion, and it should have happened in a Mclaren” the book admits about the driver who made an impressive F1 debut with the team before inexplicably being dropped by team principal Teddy Mayer.

Mayer’s brother Timmy also appears in its pages having driven a Cooper T70 entered by Bruce McLaren’s team in 1964 being losing his life in a crash at Longford in Tasmania later that year.

The briefer entries condense the lives of their subjects into a few pithy paragraphs. The longer ones benefit from meticulous research and some superbly chosen quotes.

McLaren’s driver hiring policy has usually been to hire the best two racers available and let them get on with it. As a result of this a lot of great drivers have passed through their doors – and some have subsequently swiftly afterwards.

It does a good job of treading the fine line between not overlooking some of the more controversial moments in their history, but also being even-handed towards those who did not have the happiest times at the team. That even goes for the four-page entry on Fernando Alonso, about whom “mention of his name still evokes strong feelings in many quarters of the McLaren Technology Centre five years on”.

This is the second giant slab of reading material on F1 drivers that’s lame on my desk recently. The last, the exhaustive Grand Prix Who’s Who, is the place to go for a guide to every driver ever. But if you’ve got the budget for both this is vital reading too, and not just for McLaren fans.

F1 Fanatic rating

Buy McLaren – The Drivers (UK)

Buy McLaren – The Drivers (USA)

McLaren – The Drivers 1964-2012

Author: David Tremayne
Publisher: F1 Racing Group
Published: February 2013
Pages: 336
Price: ??49.95
ISBN: 9780957532007


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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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15 comments on “McLaren – The Drivers reviewed”

  1. WilliamB (@william-brierty)
    7th April 2013, 19:03

    I have all three, and this one is by far the most magnetic. They all sit on my coffee table (and yes, it does have very strong legs), where they a) look excellent and b) become the centerpiece of my very F1 orientated apartment. I was rather disappointed with “The Cars”, but this is the real deal, and brings the series back to the impressive standards of the “The Wins”. “The Drivers” appropriately indulges in great detail throughout, but does so in a captivating and strangely rather charming manner. In short “The Drivers” is epic, so if you a) are an F1 nut like me, b) scatter your house with F1 stuff (I have memorabilia pertaining to just about every F1 driver of the last 30 years…and yes, that does include Luca Badoer) and c) have £50.00 that weren’t planning on spending on food, warmth or emergency medical treatment, then look no further.

    1. Nicely summed up there @willaim-brierty, lets see if the food, warmth and emergency fund allows for buying it :-)

  2. I wonder what this book say about Fernando Alonso

    1. He should be, mostly because he took the time to set Hamilton’s car up for a year.

  3. Is Hamilton in it?

    1. No, because he’s not a McLaren driver.

    2. Traverse (@)
      7th April 2013, 20:22

      It’s a book about the drivers that have driven for McLaren past and present, so I’m assuming that Hamilton will be in there somewhere…

    3. Yes he is – he gets eight pages.

  4. Traverse (@)
    7th April 2013, 20:30

    Historically, McLaren have definitely had the best drivers pilot their silver/red & white/black/gold racing machines (too bad Alonso couldn’t handle the pressure!). :P

  5. Well… It is my birthday tomorrow… ;)

    1. Traverse (@)
      8th April 2013, 2:32

      @craig-o Happy birthday!
      My birthday is tomorrow (9th). Viva Aries! :-)

      1. @Traverse Thank you! Happy birthday for tomorrow!

  6. Graham MacKenzie
    9th April 2013, 4:16

    The Longford track that hosted the 1964 race that took Timmy Mayer’s life is in Tasmania, Australia rather than New Zealand. Here is a link to a page that describes the race 1964 Tasman Series Rounds 5 – 8 (see round 8) and another page with some simulations of the track for rFactor Longford Track

    1. Thanks Graham have changed the text.

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