‘Charles Leclerc’ and ‘Lando Norris’ biographies reviewed


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New biographies of McLaren star Lando Norris and Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc are two of a slew of F1 driver profiles released this summer (watch this space for forthcoming reviews), many being published by Icon Books.

While it is easy to roll your eyes, in reality this signifies the renewed interest in F1 as a result of Netflix’s ‘Drive to Survive’. Not since the heady days of the mid-to-late nineties have there been so many contemporaneous F1 books (especially driver profiles) released.

So what of these Norris and Leclerc biographies, then? While neither are likely to tip into all-time top ten F1 book lists, both authors, Ben Hunt (Norris) and Adam Hay-Nicholls (Leclerc), do a fine job with the material available, producing highly readable and engaging biographies.

While not an official biography, Hunt clearly has more direct access to Norris’s inner circle. His management team are included in the list of interviewees, as is former McLaren communications manager Charlotte Sefton who worked closely with Norris during his early days at the team. It’s unlikely that either would have provided material without at least tacit approval from Norris himself.

Meanwhile Hay-Nicholls has to rely a little bit more on third-hand sources and interviews completed during Leclerc’s time in F1. However, he deserves a Pulitzer nomination for stretching ‘working class’ to its absolute limits on multiple occasions. Yes, Leclerc had to secure management and Ferrari backing to climb up the single-seater ladder on his way to Formula 1, but Nigel Mansell selling his house this is not.

The portraits that emerge are generally sympathetic, but also with deep currents. These are young men fulfilling their dream, becoming global brand ambassadors and amassing immense fan bases all while at a very young age.

My main criticism is the same across both books: both drivers’ time in junior formulae is rattled through quickly, with notable coyness (more so from Hunt) about the costs and investment involved to make a serious run at the levels before F1. Both Norris and Leclerc’s graduation to the world championship level was long seen as inevitable and I would have liked a bit more detail on how both prepared for their destinies.

For young drivers who are early in their careers, there is only so much that a biography can say or do, particularly without first-hand access to their subjects. However, both Hunt and Hay-Nicholls have lean and immensely readable writing styles which means neither book ever drags, while there are enough nuggets to keep the hardcore interested.

As beach reads for F1 fans new and old, both books are enjoyable primers on two of the newest generation of the sport’s world class talents.

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RaceFans rating

Charles Leclerc: A Biography

Rating three out of five

Lando Norris: A Biography

Rating three out of five

Read all the RaceFans book reviews.

Charles Leclerc: A Biography

Author: Adam Hay-Nicholls
Publisher: Icon Books
Published: August 2023
Pages: 288
Price: £14.99
ISBN: 9781837730087

Lando Norris: A Biography

Author: Ben Hunt
Publisher: Icon Books
Published: August 2023
Pages: 192
Price: £14.99
ISBN: 9781837730124

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Ben Evans
Motorsport commentator Ben is RaceFans' resident bookworm. Look out for his verdict on the latest motor racing publications on Sundays....

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22 comments on “‘Charles Leclerc’ and ‘Lando Norris’ biographies reviewed”

  1. Surprising releases, mainly because autobiographies usually only come once active careers are over.

    1. What’s next?
      The biography of an unborn? Or even an autobiography based on its brainwaves?

      1. Good suggestions

    2. Agree @jerejj . Maybe I’m old fashioned, but they should be made in about 10 years or so. Looking back on a career.

      1. Yes same for me i almost thought Land and Charles were quiting F1.

    3. why does itsay biography in the headline when they’re auto? Do you know the difference?

  2. Coventry Climax
    20th August 2023, 15:58

    My neighbours have a three months old boy. Can I promote his autobiography here too please?

    What’s their plan, have new versions out each year, until they’re old enough to really have something of interest to say to mankind?

    An autobiography at their age, that’s ridiculous.

    Could you guys inform, in a year or so, what the sales figures have been?

    1. They might do surprisingly well, they have a huge fan base (altho not as shouty as lewis) and those fans will pick it up just like other merch sells

  3. With all due respect to these two guys, and the authors who wrote these; this seems rather premature.

    Leclerc (25) has won five out of about 120 races he’s been in, while Norris (23) has won not a single of his roughly 100 races. Neither has been in a title battle that might be spun as a heroic loss either.

    Given that, the reported rush with which their junior careers are apparently handled seems all the more confusing. I suppose they thought the ‘generic F1 fan’ doesn’t want to read about karting? Seems a bit odd.

  4. This creates a new concept: an outdated biography.

  5. Wow that Charles book cover is awful, how did they manage that? At least Philip Morris got their brand pretty prominently on there so that’s good.

  6. I don’t necessarily think they’re too young to have biographies written about them… plenty of people who didn’t make it to 25 have biography-able lives, and Lando and Charles still being alive doesn’t disqualify them from that category in my eyes. An early-/mid-career biography also allows for more of an in-depth focus on what I’d assume a reader would want to know at this stage – their life and racing career before F1. I assume that because I also assume anyone buying them would be familiar with their F1 careers and wouldn’t need a book to remind them.

    But then…

    My main criticism is the same across both books: both drivers’ time in junior formulae is rattled through quickly, with notable coyness (more so from Hunt) about the costs and investment involved to make a serious run at the levels before F1. Both Norris and Leclerc’s graduation to the world championship level was long seen as inevitable and I would have liked a bit more detail on how both prepared for their destinies.

    That’s more or less the main reason I’d buy a book like these, so that does seem unusual.

  7. So are these biographies like 10 pages long?

    1. The digital book is an an sms

  8. In fairness, I had an utterly brilliant Nigel Mansell autobiography (Driven to Win) released in 1988. So that’s before his Ferrari years, return to Williams, winning his only championship, jumping ship to Indycar and winning that first time out, his return again to Williams ets etc.

    But it brilliantly covered in depth his struggles through the junior formulas and all his personal sacrifices and injuries he endured to climb all the way to championship contender in F1.

    I can’t see that either of these books will hold a light to that Mansell book though from reading these reviews.

  9. Won’t be on my priority reading list. They are great F1 talents, but otherwise not very relevant or inspiring; at least to me. As for their F1 careers, it’s kinda early, isn’t it? Whoever can push these almost-children to approve this would probably sell his own parents for profit.

  10. Mid career biographies don’t interest me but I see a lot of comments about the ages of the drivers. Leclerc has 4 and a half seasons at Ferrari which is among the longest serving ever and under a couple of management structures whilst racing directly against a 4 time champion. The win at Monza will be remembered forever. So I can almost see an argument for a biography for him, less so Norris.

    Moss wrote an autobiography at 28 and his mechanic wrote one the same year. Moss had a far more interesting career than these 2, with a lot more achievements but still relatively young. Naturally he did so to raise money but also to communicate to fans. Norris and Leclerc have social media and 24 hour rolling news so I don’t see any benefit to collating the media managed interviews into a book. If I want to hear from the current grid, I want to hear it directly – preferably after their contracts with teams and sponsors have elapsed and they can speak openly.

    1. It’s true that only seven drivers have done more races in F1 for Ferrari than Leclerc, but that probably says a lot more about the current length of the seasons than it does about Leclerc. It’s actually surprising that of those drivers (Schumacher, Räikkönen, Massa, Vettel, Barrichello, Berger and Alonso) only one can claim a tale of eventual success.

      1. Yeah my feeling about Ferrari is that you get 5 seasons maximum historically. If you’ve not won the title in that time, you need to accept being number 2 for the next driver, or to move on.

        Kimi was certainly number 2 second time round, Massa regressed into it as did Vettel, arguably. Rubens and Berger were brought in as number 2s, especially Gerhard the second time. I think Gilles had signed to McLaren also. Alonso and Vettel both recognised the project wasn’t going to turn around fast enough after 2 title attempts and cut ties too. I think it’s one of the elements that make Ferrari so special.

  11. Of course I understand where many of the comments come from, and won’t deny that I had some thoughts that were arguably ‘along those lines’. However, perhaps some comments are taking it a little far.

    Ultimately if there are people who want to buy the books, why wouldn’t they be written. I can be pretty confident – without even checking – that there are younger individuals with biographies. And it’s not impossible that I – or more importantly those that wish to read about these drivers – won’t be around by the time Norris hangs up his helmet.

    1. There’s a case to be made that making it to F1 is, in itself, an accomplishment. But that just makes it more odd that, as noted, ‘both drivers’ time in junior formulae is rattled through quickly’.

      This is already Leclerc’s 5th season at Ferrari, and as much as it’s disappointing to conclude, there hasn’t been many highlights over those years.

  12. They could have jazzed up the titles somewhat, talk them up a bit.
    “Mean Streets of Monaco : The Irresistible Rise of Working Class Hero Charles Leclerc”
    “Millenial Falcon : the Lando Norris odyssey”

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