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FORMULA 1 TECHNOLOGY: The Engineering Explained

courtesy of Alfa Romeo
Photo courtesy of Alfa Romeo

Book Review

FORMULA 1 TECHNOLOGY: The Engineering Explained


The Engineering Explained

My first immersion into Formula One’s Grand Prix was in a theater, taking in all of the cinematic wonder of director John Frankenheimer’s Grand Prix. With an international cast – as you’d hope – navigating the Grand Prix season, along with the funerals that habitually went with that season, Frankenheimer’s eye captured the visceral vibe of singl e-seaters packing a punch well in excess of their ½-ton of curb weight. And all of it riding on rubber having far more in common with VW’s Beetle than today’s racing rubber. Obviously, Formula 1 has come a long way in those 55+ years, and in his FORMULA 1 TECHNOLOGY: The Engineering Explained, author Steve Rendle is here, if you will, to explain it. 

Book cover courtesy of Evro Publishing

Of course, Formula 1 has, until very recently, been a hit-or-miss proposition with American race fans, torn as they are between the competing factions of NASCAR and Indycar racing. (As a former colony of the Crown, skepticism is to be expected.) With, however, Netflix introducing its Drive to Survive series to American living rooms, attention paid to Formula 1 has exploded in both America’s now-established venues such as Austin, and more recently introduced ‘circuits’ such as Las Vegas. And if you’ve been away from Formula One over a prolonged period (I think I stopped paying close attention in the late ‘80s), you’ll know design and technology have made huge leaps forward; that, if you’re tech savvy, is good. And if remaining analog, it’s bad. Mr. Rendle wades fully into the tech, supplying a far better understanding of what’s going on between the four wheels than Netflix would ever hope to do. 

The book supplies a baseline in its first chapter, Evolution of F1 Tech.  At that baseline includes the first appearance of the rear-engined car in F1 – a Cooper T43 driven by Stirling Moss for Rob Walker Racing. And the Brits were still at it in the early ‘60s with the launch of the category’s first fully stressed monocoque chassis – from Lotus – in 1962. What follows are any number of enhancements in aerodynamics, materials, electronics and Kinetic Energy Recovery Systems. Frankly, it’s a rather amazing catalog of innovation, and fully justifies Mr. Rendle’s comparison of Formula 1 to the technology of fighter aircraft. And I wouldn’t disagree, while noting Formula 1 never had Tom Cruise’s Maverick… 

For those that have been paying attention to Formula 1 over the last 30 years, Mr. Rendle’s work will expand on what you might have already known. But if, like me, you’d enjoy getting up to speed, within its 330+ pages and 450 illustrations there’s much to like…and much to learn. For the young engineering prospect it supplies a road map to all you can do, both in school and on the job. And for those of us – at least figuratively – on the couch, those same 330+ pages will, at the very least, keep us off of CNN. 

Our copy of FORMULA 1 TECHNOLOGY: The Engineering Explained was provided by its publisher, Evro Publishing. It’s available in the U.S. courtesy of Quarto Publishing, and can be purchased – just ask ‘em – at your locally-owned bookstore for $80 U.S.

Mercedes-AMG PETRONUS F1 at Australian GP – pic courtesy of Mercedes-AMG PETRONUS F1

Boldt, a contributor to outlets such as, Kelley Blue Book and Autoblog, brings to his laptop some forty years of experience in automotive retail, journalism and public relations. He is a member of the Texas Auto Writers Association, The Washington Automotive Press Association and L.A.'s Motor Press Guild. David is the Managing Editor of txGarage, a regular panelist on the AutoNetwork Reports webcast/podcast, and the automotive contributor to Dallas' Katy Trail Weekly.

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