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The Mechanic's Tale by Steve Matchett: Formula One from the Pit Lane

Updated on October 21, 2015

Formula One from the inside

If you're in the United States and you watch the Grands Prix on TV, then you'll know the name of Steve Matchett.

Yes, he is the same person who commentates so knowledgeably when you're watching practice sessions, qualifying or the race itself, but do you know about his own history and background?

Who is Steve Matchett?

As the title of this book suggests, his immense knowledge about the intricacies of the modern Formula One world come about because of his many years spent in the pitlane working on the cars and keeping their performance to the maximum as the top motor racing series travelled throughout the world.

Championship winner

Whenever you see a successful driver being interviewed after a race - whether it's a European series or an American auto racing series such as Indycar, you'll notice that they always mention their gratitude to their team.

Racing is a team sport and it's easy to forget the hugee amount of work that is done by the unseen men and women who are rarely, if ever, seen on the television. Steve Matchett was one of these people and this book, which is full of humour as well as information and intrigue, is a true insight into that behind the scenes teamwork.

Steve Matchett worked with many of the greatest drivers of the era, preparing their cars - drivers such as Michael Schumacher, Jean Alesi, Ricardo Patrese, Nelson Piquet and more - legends all.

Help someone love Formula One

If you're a race fan, then I know without doubt that you'll love this book. But if your partner doesn't understand your passion, this book may well convert them.

Far from being a 'book about auto racing' it's the story of a young man with a dream, the way he worked his way towards that dream and the personalities, the excitement and the perils of the fastest sport in the world.

Are you looking for a gift for a Formula One fan?

If so, it can be difficult to know exactly what to choose. All we fans all have our own allegiances and we also have some drivers and teams we love to hate. (If you're looking for an F1 gift for me, for example, anything Ferrari is cool but please, nothing relating to Mr 'Finger' Vettel).

So the best way to go is to delve into recent history. The books below are highly recommended and will please any fan.

Murray Walker: Unless I’m Very Much Mistaken
Murray Walker: Unless I’m Very Much Mistaken
Murray is arguably the most loved figure in the British motorsport world. He was a commentator for many years and his gaffes and errors are legendary.For those who remember this loveable character's commentary, this book is a must. Those who don't will enter another era and another world. Incidentally, the title comes from one of his commentary comments which was 'Unless I'm very much mistaken ... and I am...'
Rush to Glory: Formula 1 Racing's Greatest Rivalry
Rush to Glory: Formula 1 Racing's Greatest Rivalry
When James Hunt retired from Formula One, he too went to work on the TV commentating on races - in partnership with Murray Walker.James was known as the 'rockstar racing driver' and he and Murray couldn't have been more different - their commentaries were electrifying - and hilarious.During his racing career, Hunt had a huge rival - his best friend and his worst enemy, Nikki Lauda. Any race fan will love this fabulous book.

Steve Matchett and David Hobbs

We Brits somewhat snootily see Formula One as a British sport. We have some (slight) justification as the UK has provided some of the best drivers, the finest teams and - the funniest and daftest commentators.

James Hunt and Murray Walker were a great combination but have now been superseded (to me anyway) by the terribly British Steve Matchett / David Hobbs combo.

See the mechanic and the driver in action below.

See one of the pitfalls (what a rotten pun) of being a Formula One mechanic in the video below.

As I am reviewing books about Formula One on this page, it would be remiss of me not to include the one below.

Winning is Not Enough
Winning is Not Enough
Today, Jackie Stewart is seen as an elder statesman of Formula One. He was a hugely successful driver and became an equally successful businessman. His attention to detail is astonishing.In many ways, we owe the current safety in Formula One to the men featured on this page and in particular, Jackie Stewart.He (like Nikki Lauda above) had a racing accident that could have easily ended his career if not his life. He has worked towards safety in the sport ever since. This is another fascinating and fabulous book that anyone - fan or not - will enjoy immensely.

Meet the reviewer

When I work, I invariably have at least two piles of books right alongside my computer. I love books and they are everywhere in my house (yes, even in the loo!)

I have books on so many subjects because I have so many - seemingly very unconnected - interests, Formula One racing being one. (As I write, I am looking forward to the Chinese Grand Prix this weekend). You can also see another F1 book in the photograph - Shunt - the autobiography of driver-turned-commentator, James Hunt.

You can tell from the photograph that I am also fond of red wine and Mid-Century Modern furniture (did you spot my Bertoia chair?) but my interests range from vegetarian cooking, via old movies, design, typography and history, all the way through to British eccentrics and scandals. Yeah, a little weird....

But now you'll have to excuse me - I need to select another book from the pile. What will it be this time?

© 2014 Jackie Jackson


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