How to Build a Car – Adrian Newey

A completely different kettle of fish from the last autobiography I read!  This one is written by Adrian Newey, designer of F1 cars.  The book is part autobiography and partly about how Newey designs and builds cars.

I was bought the book for Christmas 2017 and have been saving it, looking forward to finding the right time to indulge in reading it.

The autobiography part of the book is interesting.  I always enjoy finding out about people and how they get to where they are at, in whatever field.  In Adrian Newey’s case it seems to have been a lifelong passion to be able to design/draw cars and then be able to build them.  It’s somehow always uplifting to read about someone achieving their ambition, although I expect that level of drive and determination makes them a pain to live with – something alluded to in the book.

Once the author gets a job working in motor racing the autobiography parts of the book become more of a background narrative to the development of the cars and their performance.  As someone who is interested in how cars work I really enjoyed reading about the development of F1 cars and reading about the sport has become more scientific in its development methods over the years.

It’s also interesting to get a different perspective on the “names” from F1 Newey has worked with; Nigel Mansell, Patrick Head, Frank Williams, Ron Dennis etc. I hadn’t realised Adrian Newey had designed the car Ayrton Senna died in. And although it is covered in the book I can’t begin to imagine how that must feel.

The downside of the book is that it rather trails off at the end.  There is no proper summing up or ending.  I can see why; Adrian Newey is still very much alive and kicking, moving on to do other things, but I feel he could have picked a clear end point for the book and put the rest in a short “watch this space, this is what’s coming next” chapter.  Possibly the end of chapter 74 when Red Bull have just won their third Driver’s and Constructor’s championship would have been the right place to stop.

Overall though I really enjoyed reading this book and, as long as you have some interest in how cats are built and work, I’d really recommend it.

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