F1 Racing Confidential book cover

“F1 Racing Confidential: Inside stories from the world of Formula One” reviewed


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When Formula 1 drivers credit ‘the guys and girls’ back at the base for their latest triumph, it’s easy to assume this is merely shorthand for those who screw the chassis together.

But of course modern F1 teams involve far more people than that. The 100 or so staff which attends grands prix are the visible portion of the iceberg above the water’s surface – up to 20 times as many of them remain back at base.

A successful F1 operation doesn’t just require two cars per year to be designed, built and serviced – though that alone is a fearsomely complex operation. Sponsors must be found and kept happy, professional and social media must be supplied, new talent scouted, bills paid and much more.

This side of F1 may seem rather dry until you realise that each person involved in it approaches their work with much the same competitive mindset as those at the wheel. If there is an advantage to be had, they want it for their team, whether that is devising a winning race strategy or luring a sponsor from a rival.

In recent years more of those names beyond the drivers, team bosses and top technical staff have become more readily known by fans, due to growing coverage of the sport and the rise of social media. F1 Racing Confidential presents a cross-section of staff from across several top teams, from racing drivers to marketeers.

Among the book’s most famous subjects are Red Bull team principal Christian Horner, who was interviewed before he became the subject of an internal investigation at Red Bull, and whose words are inevitably seen in a different light while his future hangs in the balance. His Mercedes rival Toto Wolff also appears, plus McLaren ace Lando Norris.

But F1 Racing Confidential’s real appeal lies in those we know less about. Its author, Guardian Formula 1 correspondent Giles Richards, has found fascinating stories among those who, if not obscure, are less well-known beyond the most committed fans: The chief financial officer who has seen the competitive area of his work revolutionised by the budget cap; The strategist who almost lost her life after being hit by a car shortly before she began university; The Olympic athlete turned race engineer.

If the book has a weakness it’s that the reader is left to draw their own associations between its series of unconnected interviews. That said, there are recurring themes, above all the importance of collaboration how as F1 teams have grown far beyond 1,000 employees.

Even enthusiastic followers of F1 who read sites like RaceFans may not be able to immediately identify every name which gets a chapter. But they share behind-the-scenes and, in many cases, up-to-the-moment episodes of real life in the global motorsport circus.

It’s hard to think of a better book to recommend to someone yearning to work in Formula 1 who can’t imagine where their skills might be applied. It also provides a welcome rebuttal to the assumption that F1 teams are staffed exclusively by straight white men.

Arriving around the same time as the much-hyped new season of Drive to Survive, F1 Racing Confidential offers a more authentic and compelling insight into the reality of life and work in the world championship.

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Rating four out of five

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“F1 Racing Confidential: Inside stories from the world of Formula One”

Author: Giles Richards
Publisher: Michael O’Mara Books
Published: February 29th 2024
Pages: 302
Price: £20.00
ISBN: 9781789295566

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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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7 comments on ““F1 Racing Confidential: Inside stories from the world of Formula One” reviewed”

  1. It’s always been a bit puzzling – especially compared to other motorsport series – how F1 teams can usefully employ literally hundreds of people, so I’m looking forward to seeing some stories of people with important jobs that I hadn’t thought about before. Sounds like Richards did a good job balancing the ‘celebrities’ and the folks who are behind the scenes.

    The Kindle version should come out by the end of the month too. It’s always nice to see a day one release for the e-book.

  2. The race strategist mentioned in the review is Ruth Buscombe, until recently strategy engineer at Alfa Romeo/Sauber/insert next name here…..I haven’t seen this book yet, but it certainly looks interesting.

    As to how many people are employed by teams – someone has to keep track of the cost cap, and ironically that adds to the accountants needed………….

  3. a welcome rebuttal to the assumption that F1 teams are staffed exclusively by straight white men

    What’s that all about? I don’t think anyone has ever said exclusively, but majoritively.

    But unnecessary to include that personal hold up in the review.

    The Hamilton commission needed a rebuttal did it?

  4. What’s that all about?

    I just read this as an indication of what one may expect with regard to content and contributor.

    Whilst I had actually intended to say something additional, I decided it may unnecessarily fan the flames (or maybe embers). Suffice to say I get your point though, and perhaps a ‘similar’ point could have been phrased better.

    1. Sorry. That was meant to be a response to Tristan.

    2. could have been phrased better

      Definitely could have, highlights the strides being made to increase inclusivity or something…

      1. Absolutely could have, I frowned when I read that sentence.
        Poor diction at best (hopefully), strawman argument at worst.

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