The Netflix series Formula 1: Drive to Survive has been an unqualified hit. Engaging and entertaining, the series has brought in legions of new fans to F1 and entertained veteran gearheads such as myself since it debuted in 2018. If the Netflix production whetted your appetite for speed, then there’s a book for you: Formula 1 Drive to Survive – The Unofficial Companion.
Yes, it might seem ironic that a digital streaming phenomenon like Formula 1: Drive to Survive has a book (an actual book made of paper with pages and everything!) to go along with it. Yet that irony quickly fades as you thumb through this well-presented volume.
Not Your Average Textbook
Written by Stuart Codling and published by Motorbooks, Formula 1 Drive to Survive – The Unofficial Companion serves as a handy primer for the current state of F1 with plenty of historical context.
Think of this book as being aimed squarely at not only existing fans but new ones as well. The Netflix series may have felt like Freshman year for those new to the sport, which makes Formula 1 Drive to Survive – The Unofficial Companion the textbook you need to pass Sophomore year.
The exception being that Codling’s handiwork is much better written and far more entertaining than most textbooks I’ve read. Clocking in just shy of 200 pages, Formula 1 Drive to Survive – The Unofficial Companion breaks down the various aspects of the modern F1 landscape and gives the reader an understanding of how it works. Like everything in the Motorbooks collection, the photography and overall visual presentation are also second to none.
Formula 1 Drive to Survive: Behind The Scenes
Across seven chapters, fans see a variety of subjects related to the sport. Chapter one, called The Human Touch, introduces us to the people behind F1. Yes, the cars and the technology are oh-so-cool and important (and we get to that in the following chapters), but as Dan Gurney said, it’s the people that are really interesting. Knowing this, Codling provides insight into the work of race engineers, mechanics, and even personal trainers who keep an F1 team functioning.
As the title implies, Formula 1 Drive to Survive is a companion to the Netflix series. So if you’re watching and a question arises like “What’s a technical director?” the book can fill that in.
Codling then takes us through F1 car design, what goes into building a race track, the sometimes murky world of F1’s governing body (the FIA), and the even crazier world of finances and race day strategies.
Formula 1 Drive to Survive – The Unofficial Companion
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Formula 1 Drive to Survive gives fans an in-depth look at F1 racing, from who the team members are and how the technology works to what the business side of the sport looks like.
Explains race day strategies, including the anatomy of a pit stop and how analytics are leveraged.
Authored by respected motorsport journalist and broadcaster Stuart Codling.
Fun Gift For F1 Fans
As I said at the beginning, a book to go along with a streaming series you can watch on your phone may seem like an ironic approach, but it’s a good approach nonetheless. Formula 1 Drive to Survive – The Unofficial Companion will help anyone understand the complexities of and the personalities behind F1 racing. If you’re a fan, it’s a must-have for your bookshelf. If you know a fan, it makes for an excellent gift.
To learn more about author Stuart Codling, take a listen to his appearance on the Cars Yeah podcast with host Mark Greene. If you are hungry for more great car books, we have showcased dozens of titles as part of our Book Garage series.
Longtime Automoblog writer Tony Borroz has worked on popular driving games as a content expert, in addition to working for aerospace companies, software giants, and as a movie stuntman. He lives in the northeast corner of the northwestern-most part of the Pacific Northwest.