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Guide to Books

Most F1 fans will probably end up owning a few different items like driver or team merchandise, posters, diecast car models, books, helmets, photos, prints, videos/DVDs, magazines or even actual race gear or car parts. I started out modelling old Tamiya cars but found that I needed to constantly read F1 reference books to check the accuracy of decals and paintwork livery and eventually ended up focusing on collecting Formula 1 and Grand Prix books instead.

I thought I would share some brief notes for new Formula 1 book collectors.


In the “old days” you had to rely on the sports book section of your local bookstore or getting onto the mailing list of specialist motorsports book retailers. This still works and there is no substitute for spending  time in the bookstore and actually browsing the books (if they aren’t sealed).

Online books stores have been a welcome revolution and retailers like amazon.com provide a great way to find back catalog titles either in their own stock or with their affiliate booksellers. eBay or other online auction or classified sites are also a good online option, especially if you’re interested in second hand books. A few of the traditional brick and mortar bookshops have come online and use multiple channels, like Chaters of the UK.

Grand Prix books fall into a few basic categories:

Season preview or review books – The most famous of these are the Autocourse annual season reviews published by Crash Media Group. These are large format hardcover books with heavy grade paper quality and covers the full F1 season races and short chapters at the end also wrap up other formula like GP2, GT and touring cars. Autocourse annuals aren’t cheap (in fact the older editions are rare and more expensive) but if you don’t mind spending the money, they are great books. Automobile Year published by Edita is also comparable to Autocourse but in recent years has been more focused on road and sports car coverage. Other publishers have also moved into season review books including Chronosports which are equally good in photography and race statistics. The purist book collectors will prefer Autocourse as they keep their value. Collectors should keep in mind that the old Autocourse annuals (pre-1985) are mainly black & white photography with some colour photographs compared to the all colour modern day Autocourse publications.

Hardcover books (large coffee table format) – Most of the best F1 grand prix books on drivers, cars, races or teams tend to be in this category (including the good season review books like Autocourse). Serious collectors will have most of their collections in this category. Most of the rare and expensive F1 grand prix books  also belong to this category. Another sub-category for hardcover books is the general Formula 1 history book – there have been plenty published and the general ones can be found often on discount at your local bookstore or online. Serious F1 book collectors will sooner or later find most of these F1 history books too general (with too many repeat stock photos) and end up buying more specialized books focusing on a specific period.

Hardcover books (other size format) – There are lots of hardcover books in the sub 24cm x 28cm cover size. Most driver biographies or autobiographies are usually in this category. In fact some of the unusual small size formats like the Gribaudo series are often the best.

Mainstream paperbacks – There are plenty of driver, team or F1 personality books in this category. Books in this category generally are unofficial or without the support of the real people. Older print books can usually be found with discounted prices and their size makes them an easy fit on the bookshelf. From a collector’s view, paperbacks don’t retain much value and usually have few photographs. I also see e-books eventually replacing paperbacks.

Technical books – While most F1 books cater to the average F1 fan, there are some books that dive into the technical detail. Haynes have published some books on Red Bull and Lotus 72 to imitate the look and feel of the car mechanics manuals but the secrecy of F1 technology means that any in-depth book for engineer types are rare and several years behind the current cars.


After you’ve collected a few books, you will start to notice names of the better book publishers, authors and photographers – Haynes Publishing and Hazelton Publishing are dependable publishers of great F1 books. I have to admit Coterie Press’ grand prix books are almost always of very high quality. I admire the work of quite a few grand prix photographers, but my favorites are Rainer Schlegelmilch and Keith Sutton.

Once you’ve started collecting a few books, you may even want to pickup one or two hard to find titles – I’ve posted a list of rare grand prix books on the site (click here). As print books slowly disappear and become e-books, I do worry about whether collecting F1 books is a lost cause – however, you just can’t recreate the feel of sitting down and wading through a top notch Schelegelmilch or Chris Nixon photo book inside an iPad ebook or Kindle.