Peter Higham’s book ‘Formula 1 Car by Car 2000-09’ reviewed – Motorsport Week

Peter Higham’s book ‘Formula 1 Car by Car 2000-09’ reviewed – Motorsport Week

The latest volume from Evro Publishing and Peter Higham’s decades-long dive into the Formula 1 World Championship has continued with a comprehensive 300-page plus insight into one of the most exciting periods in the entire history of the sport.

The turn of the millennium saw Ferrari use the momentum of its 1999 Constructors’ title success to end a lengthy drought in the Drivers’ Championship since 1979 and claim five consecutive title doubles.

Ferrari’s F2002 car, which took Michael Schumacher to the podium in all races that season, takes center stage on the cover, and this edition exposes the nuances that made the record-breaking success possible.

The book provides a comprehensive overview of the developments over each season that allowed the Italian marque to sustain the most dominant trajectory F1 had seen to date, as well as the less successful innovations that its less fortunate rivals implemented.

This includes McLaren’s infamous MP4/18, a creation from Adrian Newey’s brilliant design career that he would rather not look back on.

But while Ferrari’s superiority threatened to distract people from tuning in every week, a regulatory change in 2005 would halt the run and set the trend for an exciting phase that would see Fernando Alonso (twice), Kimi Raikkonen, Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button was in the spotlight until 2009.

Before going through each team’s campaign, Higham sets the tone for the season he’s about to cover with an overview of the various rule changes that changed the balance across the board, alongside the biggest news stories of the time, such as the Spygate 2007 scandal, in which McLaren was fined $100 million and thrown out of the Constructors’ Championship for possessing Ferrari information.

Meanwhile, Higham highlights even the more minor details, such as personnel changes and even sponsorship revisions, to immerse the reader more than watching an online season review video would serve.

07.05.2006 Nürburg, Germany, Start – Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 5, European Grand Prix, Sunday race

Covered in championship order, each season documents how Ferrari went from trendsetters to pace chasers, how Renault built on the foundations laid by Benetton to return the Enstone-based team to the top with Alonso in the mid-2000s, the titanic battle between a revived Ferrari team and old rival McLaren, and complemented by Brawn’s dramatic and dream rise following Honda’s sudden retreat to double championship winners in 2009.

Once again, all the most notable technical revolutions are covered, such as Renault’s mass damper configuration and the double diffuser that gave Brawn his emerging advantage, as well as the lesser known ones.

Furthermore, the book also spends ample time dissecting Red Bull’s venture into the sport and its transition to eventual race winners as it prepared to dominate, while Williams’ plight is explained in the sequence.

While the vast majority fixate on how the big names flourished or faltered on and off the track, Higham also gives respect to the minnows that newer F1 viewers might not know much about before reading them.

Ranging from Alain Prost’s failed attempts to translate his glory on the track into a management position at his eponymous team to the beloved Minardi team, the book goes to the extreme in all aspects.

The only complaint would be that going through each team’s season race by race can get repetitive, especially if the teams are grouped by positions.

However, that is a fairly small and perhaps unavoidable blemish to compensate for the decreasing number of teams and increasing calendar as Bernie Ecclestone exerted his power to expand the schedule to larger areas compared to recent decades.

All in all, the series’ newest entrant once again plays a great role in summarizing the trials and tribulations that unfolded during a riveting F1 decade that saw teams come and go and multiple race winners.

With the series experiencing exponential growth with the rise of the Netflix Drive to Survive docuseries since 2018, more recent viewers of F1 would do well to delve into this fascinating era.

Author: Peter Higham

Publisher: Evro Publishing

Publication date: May 2024

Pages: 304 (including over 350 color photos)

UK price: £60

ISBN: 978-1-910505-86-1