1982 is a particularly poignant year for me, and no doubt thousands of other F1 fans. On May 8th 1982 we lost my childhood hero, Gilles Villeneuve in a qualifying accident for the Belgian GP at Zolder.
1982 also stands out for many other reasons - it hailed the advent of the turbocharged F1 engine finally coming to the fore (Renault had first experimented with them though in 1977, and took the first win for a turbo car at Dijon Prenois in 1979), F1 cars were also well into the ground effect era pioneered by Lotus' Colin Chapman, but now running with minimal suspension - which was physically very tough on the drivers.
Then we had the FISA/FOCA battles, the drivers strike at Kyalami, the plethora of politics - the normally aspirated cars running "cooling devices" in the sidepods and the subsequent seemingly illogical disqualifications for such infringements of Piquet and Rosberg at Rio, where the former collapsed on the podium due to heat exhaustion! As well as disqualifying Ferrari's "double wing" at Long Beach only AFTER both drivers had risked their lives completing the street circuit race in the cars. This book also finally explained why Patrese spun coming down to the Loews hairpin in the lead in the closing laps of that momentous Monaco GP! Not to mention just why Derek Warwick's Toleman was so stupendously quick at Brands Hatch - and even overtook Pironi's Ferrari!!!
It was certainly quite a season - the quality of drivers on the grid that year also was probably the best at any time and included such legends as Prost, Lauda, Watson, Piquet, Villeneuve, Andretti, Pironi, Laffite, Reutemann, Rosberg, Alboreto, Mansell, Arnoux, etc.
Over 16 rounds there were 11 different victors. We had 2 fatalities that year (Villeneuve at Zolder and Paletti at Montreal). From seeming retirement there were comeback drives from Lauda, Andretti and Tambay.
All this and more are documented in this excellent book - it includes grid line-ups and results for every race, driver interviews (a lot of which I had never read elsewhere before), and press cuttings - all lavished with plenty of wonderful and nostalgic colour photos.
I cannot recommend it highly enough for F1 fans of this amazing, but personally sad era. To me, without Gilles, F1 was never the same again....
As I write there is widespread hype and clamour over the new Senna movie. I'll review that when I see it, but I doubt it will be a more compelling narrative than is told here.
Firstly the criticism: the early part of the book is written in a disjointed style that on several occasions had me re-reading to understand. My thought was that, Hilton, having been a newspaper man, was too used to having an unseen sub editor tidy up his copy. Then, once we got to the races he actually attended (1982 was Hilton's first as a Grand Prix correspondent) it flowed nicely. On second thoughts I guess the differing style with the early races was due to their story being told from cuttings and second hand resources rather than his own direct experience.
But that is it, I have no other complaint about what is a very good record of an unbelievable season.
The pages are coffee table book big, allowing for good use of the many and varied images spread evenly and liberally throughout. Captions add both detail and tone and, importantly for such big book that is meant to be held and read, the binding is supple. An unnecessary point to make you might think, but I will want to go back to this book many times and it's reassuring to know it won't fall apart.
For fans who remember the era - like me - it is very good and I think even those who know little or nothing about F1 will find it accessible and compelling, which is why think it is crying out to be made into a movie. In fact, forget a movie, this is a long, complex and rich tale of men, money and media. It deserves to be an HBO miniseries and DVD box set.
This is an excellent review of quite a remarkable year in F1. 11 different winners, 2 drivers losing their lives, a drivers strike, the battle for power between FISA and FOCA, the comeback of Nikki Lauda the list goes on. There are lots of stunning full colour photos and every race is reviewed in depth including newspaper headlines from the various countries. What makes this book really stand out is that it has comments and stories from the drivers themselves about what was happening at the time, which really draws you in and gives you a real feel for what was going on and the drivers true personalities. My only gripe and what stops me giving it 5 stars is that Chris Hilton for some reason seems to have a real bias and always gushing with praise towards Keke Rosberg. I know he was World Champion that year but Chris Hilton makes it sound like he was one of the best drivers of all time up there with Fangio, Senna, Prost and Schumacher which he wasn't. Also one of the comments from Rosbergs team mate of that year Derek Daly says that Keke was always out drinking and smoking(which Keke was renowned for), but for some reason Chris Hilton denies this. I'm sure Keke's own team mate would know more of his personality than Mr Hilton, and i'm sure its no coincidence that Keke wrote the forward for the book...
Otherwise a stunning book and highly recommended to any F1 fan of this period.
Christopher Hilton's books get better and better. This is well written account of a season of grand prix racing that saw 11 different winners in the 16 races, nobody winning more than twice and the world championship just once, the deaths of Gilles Villeneuve (I was there at Zolder that sad day) and novice Riccardo Paletti, and also the innovative Lotus designer Colin Chapman on the verge of being ensnared by the de Lorean scandal, a driver's strike and a team boycott, a serious injury to Pironi, Andretti living the dream with pole for Ferrari, at Monza, a silly dispute over water as ballast and much more. If you have any interest in grand prix racing in the 1980s this is the book for you, all that is missing is Murray Walker and James Hunt providing the commentary.
Another one of those rather silly "I was there, I knew him"-books. In itself, there's nothing wrong with it. Nothing beats a first-hand testimony. But Hilton is one of those writers who seem to think that they themselves are only marginally less interesting (if less interesting at all...) than their chosen subject. He's a bit annoying, from time to time... Still, a good book with good pictures.
To edit an end-of-year book 25 years after the season is already something rare. The editing style from nowadays with a lot of great photos, gives an unusual insight into a specific old year, which is well-appreciated. The season itself was fascinating and the events are described with precision. Definitely a great book and reading !
1982 was the year when I first became a serious follower of F1 and it's a passion that's stayed with me.
A lot has happened since then and I was very keen to revisit such an extraordinary season, which has never been matched since for its combination of the racing and the human drama surrounding it. It's good to know that someone feels the same way.
Having first read the author when he wrote about Ayrton Senna in the late 1980s, his style is familiar. There's an undercurrent of the theatrical beneath the scrupulous detail and he has covered every dimension of a year when there were so many angles.
It's a superb book, taking me all the way back and thoroughly recommemded.