The Chariot Makers: Assembling the Perfect Formula 1 Car Paperback – Aug 1 2005
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"Fluent, often entertaining" SUNDAY TIMES SPORT "Formula One's just kicked off and here's about the best mood-setter for it there's been for a good many years. This highly original piece of work does exactly what it says it will. And very well too." LADSMAG "A good idea, well done." MOTORSPORT "A loving, detailed account of F1's greatest achievements." ZOO WEEKLY "Steve Matchett is one of the best writers on the sport. Matchett's latest book is well worth a look ... informative and fact-filled." DAILY EXPRESS MOTORING "Formula One fans should read Matchett, who does a good job of reducing science to a comprehensible level." THE TIMES BUSINESS --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
About the Author
Steve Matchett has spent over twenty years in the pit-lane. Now living in western France he writes on F1 for a variety of publications and works as a broadcaster for a US motor sports channel. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Discussions on this book center around a car's "stressed members" namely the monocoque, engine and gearbox. Also mentioned is the design of the fuel tank which I find particularly interesting in light of BAR's "disqualification" from the 2005 San Marino Grand Prix for essentially using the same design as described here.
The reader also gets to differentiate between a pull rod vs a push rod suspension, twin keel vs single keel, oversteer vs understeer. Quite interesting also are Matchett's insights into the tire war.
My only beef with this book is that for a technical introduction to Formula One, it should contain more schematic drawings so that a reader who is not a mechanical engineer can readily grasp it without going through secondary sources. The context in which this book unfolds i.e. in an airport lounge among a group of stranded passengers seems out of place and sometimes gets in the way of the technical detail.
Little shortcomings notwithstanding, this has proven to be quite a good technical introduction to Formula One and inevitably makes the reader look beyond the drivers and pay closer attention to their steeds which are the real works of art.
Who would enjoy reading this book? An F1 fan who enjoys the races is but has little understanding of how the cars work and language the announcers use when discussing what the teams are doing to the cars over the race weekend. At just over 200 pages the reader will quickly be up to speed on how complex and challenging building an F1 car is and why some teams get it so wrong.
What the book is not, is a super technical breakdown of an F1 car and Matchett makes no bones about that fact. Several times in the beginning of the book he explains that if you are looking for mechanical engineering explaination, hard numbers this book more touches on the surface of the components.
Some reviewers have complained about the fictional story that Matchett uses to move from chapter to chapter and it can be a little tiring. That said, this isn't an F1 text book and Matchett had to come up with some way of creating a flow through the whole book. The story he creates helps put the reader at ease and is written in such a way to create a dialog between Matchett and the reader (the characters asking the questions you are most likely thinking). You can skip those few pages in each chapter certainly not be lost in what is going on in the book.
Why only 4 stars? Well I agree with the other reviewers who would like more drawings. What slows the reader down most often is stopping to try and picture what Matchett is explaining in detail. Another 10-20 pages would really help the reader see more quickly and clearly the parts he is discussing. It is surprising that a mechanic off all people would try and convey these parts to the reader with just words. I am sure that Matchett did not work all those years putting an F1 together by written word only.
For those familiar with F1, there is not all that much there, but for those who have an interest but lack much of the technical background to appreciate the level of ferocious competition, it can be a good eye-opener. The informal, chatty style fits the contrived scene.
To the enthusiast, this book will be a page turner. To the newbie, an approachable, non-condescending, very informative read.
However, the travelogue introduction and conclusion are a bit of an indulgence. They do, however, help the reader get to know Steve the person, reminding us that he is in some ways a regular guy who eats at diners in Manhattan and sips coffee in Paris, in addition to being at the pinnacle of the motorsport-journalist world, and enshrined in F1 hall-of-fame-of-the-mind for his role in the 1994 World Championship.