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on 1 June 2014
If like myself (or even if you are not!) 1970 was a pivotal season within your formative years of the late 1960's/early 1970's era this is indeed a most welcome and utterly essential tome. The 1970 season was in many ways an important one in the history of F1 as It ushered in the beginnings of a new era, an era that is all impressively related here in 'F1 Retro 1970' by Mark Hughes. The 'story' is conveyed with great aplomb whilst exhibiting formidable attention to detail through what appears to have been some thoroughly extensive and painstakingly accurate research. It's packed with new original source material and historical insight with some wonderful current day reflections and perspectives from numerous VIP's. (See product description). All quite superb stuff!

I have just about researched and read all that I possibly can over the years on this most fascinating yet tragic season however, we have presented here before us a plethora of new material in the form of both the printed word and photographic content all revealed and beautifully presented from within it's 250-odd pages.

It exhibits authority, depth, focus and insight from it's author, if very occasionally becoming just a tad flowery and overly dramatic with it's pros; during it's earlier pages if I recall correctly? At times it justifiably refers back to 'Faster!' (Stewart & Manso) and Ted Simon's book 'The Chequered Year', the latter a somewhat underrated and overlooked work perhaps due in small part to it's rather weak and innocuous cover design combining with a somewhat ambiguous title? To the contrary the quality of the dust jacket of 'F1 Retro 1970' is absolute top-notch, its design being quite simply stunning.

Details of it's contents have been adequately covered in other reviews and the product description so I won't repeat them except to say that whilst the 'Fluid Dynamics' content was interesting I felt too many pages were devoted to it with some repetitious detail to the point of almost giving the impression of it being a 'page-filler'. However, to be fair I duly note and acknowledge that others fully appreciated and enjoyed this specific content.

Additional to the above personal 'take' other reasons why I have not awarded it 5 stars are I hasten to add relatively trivial, except that is for the matter of price upon which others have similarly commented. It's a bit too expensive! Circa £10 off full retail would represent a more commensurate figure. Other minor subjective quibbles are; whilst it's obviously well bound with lovely red cloth boards and appropriately tasteful 'gold' contrasting end-papers it's internal printed pages are a rather odd choice its paper more resembling that of thin matte card rather than a premium gloss or satin paper. This also reinforces an initial impression that it has more than it's c.250+ printed pages. It's certainly a handsome, 'higher quality' publication of that there is no doubt, but not luxurious in a traditional 'wow' sense. It reminds one of an earlier shrunk-in-the-wash 'Automobile Year' in it's physical dimensions. It's not quite large enough (for one example) to the detriment of too many, too small credit card sized photos being included. These aspects combine to detract somewhat from it's presence and thus perceived value.

Summing up. Buy it! As stated; in essence the above (last para) comments only reflect my personal, TRIVIAL observations! The predominant facts are that it's very well written, researched and when taken as a 'whole', well designed and presented too. An absolutely essential, quality work.
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on 14 March 2014
I remember the 1970 season like it was yesterday and can still remember all the teams and which drivers drove for them and can still recall all the GP winners and, if pressed, can have a go at who finished second. When you're 16 these things never leave you. This is a very important book for anyone like me who knows that period.well as it analyses all the important matters with the benefit of 43 years of reflection. The study of the Lotus 72 is just jaw-dropping. I even learned some new facts. I always thought Ron Dennis cocked up Black Jack's British GP and it turns out it was Nick Goozee and I had always read about the Spa lap record "post-chicane" and never knew exactly where it was and here is a picture of it at Malmedy. Re-reading my 1970 Autocourse was pretty essential after this and going back and forth between them is time not all badly spent, especially with a spot of libation to hand. I don't agree that this should be a sequential series as this misses the point totally. The idea is to focus on a pivotal year and fully analyse it. If pushed I would go for 1967 when the 3 litre Cosworth era got going, You've got radical design - Lotus 49, new standards of engineering - Cosworth DFV, a great car - Jack's Brabham, and tragedy - Bandini, Bob Anderson and the best race of all time - the unbelievable Italian GP where Jim makes up a whole lap and then runs short of fuel on the last lap.

There you are, Mark Hughes - go for it. I'll be first in the queue.

This book - 10 stars at least.
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on 4 February 2014
I thought I remembered the 1970 season (a great one) well, but this book brings back so many details, especially in the photographs. All in all, it's an excellent production - really good print/paper/binding quality and it even smells good!

How fitting that this book should be published just before the start of a new season which will feature so much sameness in car design. Everything about F1 was better back then, especially the differing engine layouts. The flat 12 Ferrari was charismatic and dictated a very distinctive chassis design in the 312. And the Matra V12 was just the noisiest, whilst the MS120 chassis was beautiful too, turning riveting in a form of fine art! Meanwhile the other 12 banger enabled the first BRM win for a while. And we had Zandvoort/Old Spa/Pre-messed up Monza and Watkins Glen . . . ah, if only.
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on 5 January 2014
This was my best and most enjoyable F1 book purchase this year, seriously enjoyable and worth reading every chapter. The breakdown into an initial subtitle `Yesterday's F1 through today's eyes' says it all really and with this intrigue leads into further subtitles `The races', 'The machines' and `The men'. An extensive Forward and fascinating Introduction precedes the race accounts which are detailed and with detail I've not come across elsewhere although I now understand that great works such as Ted Simon's `The Chequered Year' were drawn upon. The LAT photos are new and interesting and add much to the otherwise superb photos we see in abundance from Schlegelmilch for example. These two photographic sources have in recent years super-boosted the former scarcity of photos from the era. A chapter on statistics has a modern feel to it and is followed by another superbly written chapter on the Aerodynamics and then accounts relating to each car with a modern aerodynamicist's opinion too. A final chapter revealing the personalities of the drivers from this risky period of F1 history is a further blessing.
The chapter on aerodynamics treats us to a modern detailed Computational Fluid Dynamics assessment of the Lotus 72 for example and is a fascinating eyeopener, the Lotus 72's aero' being compared to that of the other main contenders. Additional chapters on Tyres and Engines are a bonus. The actual hardback book is very well produced and has a robust binding and quality dust-jacket. The photographs in my copy were perfectly normal as expected and I thought very good indeed. The Chapter contents had one error in that the chapter titled 'The Drivers A-Z' starts on page 238, not 228. There is no Index, but I guess the formulation of subtitles and their own breakdown into individual races, the cars themselves and the drivers, means that a conventional Index is not essential. I look forward to the same treatment of the following years 1971-1980 perhaps, hoping this is possible, however recognising this particular title was dependent in some ways on the aforementioned account by Ted Simon. This book earns its place in my library (mrof1engineering) and will be regularly consulted.
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on 19 September 2014
Surely the most obsessively comprehensive book ever written about this era of motorsport. I was hooked after just the introduction, and the concept of looking back on such a different era through modern eyes and sensibilities is an interesting one. The race reports are pretty detailed but in particular give much different narrative about fatal accidents than would a contemporary report. A surprising highlight is a refreshingly candid piece by the head of the Matra team, looking back at everything they did wrong.

I have three minor gripes:
They have some very good pictures, but I was left wanting more!
It was odd that the race report for the British GP omitted to mention that the car in which Rindt won was probably illegal (this detail is buried in the technical analysis).
Drivers' biographies didn't look ahead to their future careers beyond 1971, and often not even that far, which would've been useful information for novice readers who mightn't know, for example, that early in 1971 J.P. Beltoise did something very silly that killed Ignazio Giunti.

These minor gripes aside the book was gripping in its narrative and a joy to read in its tactile beauty.
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on 4 March 2014
This is the best book about motor racing that I have read for a very long time - it's superlative in every respect.

The volume itself is beautifully made and printed and the images selected with great relevance, taste and imagination.
To separate the content into the story of the season, the fascinating view of the technology and then the personalities works wonderfully well.

To become immersed in the text is to travel back in time to a world that is now impossibly primitive, sharp-smelling and dangerous, yet full of life. This is particularly poignant when seen from the twenty-first century. We might feel alarmed to be there but bereft somehow when we came back.

If you have any petrol or romance in your veins, buy Retro 1970, because it's something to treasure.
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on 30 March 2015
This is a superb book, end to end brilliant and well written. Ok it was a dangerous time we know it was, but boy does this era blow away modern day F1 on so many counts. Do not pay too much attention to some of the reviews on here where knocks are concerned, especially saying how it compares poorly to other books written about the period as not all of us had the pleasure of being around then. The anecdotes such as the suggestion (and bordering on proof) that Rodriguez' - Spa 1970 win with BRM had an illegal engine, was just the sort of thing I love to read about and a real eye-opener. Bring on the next book please Mr Hughes.
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on 7 January 2014
This is a stunning piece of work. You will initially be blinded by the amazing images and beautiful standards of production - this is quite possibly the best-looking F1 book of all time, the pictures seeming to jump out of the page and putting you right there in a time when racing was spectacular and spectacularly dangerous, the lives lived very large. But that's only the teaser. The beautifully crafted text is extraordinary, particularly in the 35-page scene-setting section where poetic pathos is intermingled with real hard-hitting insight and the recollections of the survivors. There follows a race by race account of the year, but delivered with the sort of deep analysis and hindsight overview that contemporary reportage lacked, and again interspersed with the input of surviving participants. A technical section features what must be a world first: a 21st century CFD computerised simulation of the aerodynamics of a 1970 car, the Lotus 72. A modern day aero man dissects what the images reveal to come up with answers that were unknown at the time even to those who created the car. Each car gets its own technical shakedown, with input from the designers to build a picture of why and not merely what. The very different personalities and circumstances of the teams that created the cars shines through. The final section is devoted to the drivers, every single one that took part and there are fascinating interviews in there from the likes of Jacky Ickx, Jackie Stewart and Emerson Fittipaldi. This is so much more than just a nostalgia trip. Though it's that as well, it's also a definitive account of all that happened in that particular year of F1 and why. As the blurb says, it puts you right there but with today's eyes. Quite extraordinary.
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on 17 February 2016
I have a new found respect for Mark. A well written book which goes that little bit further with a healthy incisive style which was normally the preserve of Nigel Roebuck.
An amazing season of F1, headlined by the tragic death of Jochen Rindt, Emerson Fittipaldi's debut, March's first GP win, the list goes on.
Pleased I have bought it to complement my Autocourse library!
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on 28 March 2016
Nice pieces on the technology and drivers but the race reports are a bit dull. If you can get hold of it, buy the Ted Simon book of the same season. That is one of the best books about motor racing ever.
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