“1?? litre Grand Prix Racing 1961-65” (Mark Whitelock, 2006)

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There is nothing new under the sun. Just as the FIA provoked intense debate when they imposed 2.4-litre V8 engines from 2006, so there was similar distaste over the imposition of 1.5-litre engines after the 1960 season.

This new book from Mark Whitelock turns the spotlight on this “largely overlooked” period of Grand Prix history. He points out that although the reduction of power was not welcomed by British teams, it was a golden age for British drivers such as Jim Clark (champion in 1963 and 1965), Graham Hill (champion in 1962) and John Surtees (champion in 1964).

The 330-page volume covers the five seasons in detail with race reports, statistics, circuit and car diagrams, and a large number of excellent photographs.

Here is a lesson in never judging a book by its cover – or title. Before even getting a hold of this book I was expecting a dusty technical work on the mechanics of 1.5-litre engined F1 cars.

I was delighted, therefore, to find that this is in fact a tremendously detailed account of all aspects of the 1961-65 Grand Prix seasons.

Formula 1 fans who know little beyond the modern era of the sport have a very limited range of material from which to learn about the early decades of motor racing. There is little in the way of comprehensive video record and books are generally the best resource to turn to.

In “1?? litre Grand Prix racing 1961-65” Mark Whitelock picks out an unusual period in Grand Prix history and gives it broad, deep coverage. This is an ideal book for someone reading about this period for the first time.

Curiously, the is the exact opposite sentiment to that expressed in the foreword by the sadly recently deceased former commentator of Grands Prix for the BBC, Raymond Baxter.

The book covers some highly notable and important events in F1 history. Stirling Moss’s famed defeat of Ferrari at Monaco in 1961; the terrible death of Wolfgang von Trips and 15 spectators later the same year; John Surtees becoming the first (and still only) driver to win both the motorcycle and racing car World Championships and so on.
Whitelock has done an exceptionally thorough job.

He includes summary results for all the non-champions Grands Prix of each season and puts them in context. And the contemporary drawings of the relevant Grand Prix tracks were particularly interesting for a circuits buff like myself…

The whole publication is packed with evocative photographs of legendary courses like the Nordschleife and Clermont-Ferrand.

If I could offer any criticisms they would be that the layout sometimes renders the text difficult to read, and that I would have enjoyed more first-hand material in the copy itself.

But this is otherwise an excellent introduction to a fascinating era of Grand Prix racing.

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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