Recommended Reading – Technical & Engineering

If you are interested in becoming an engineer or technical person in F1 there is a great deal of background reading that you can do to improve your knowledge and understanding of the sport.

I immersed myself in Formula 1 from an early age, watching every race on television and reading about the history of the sport and some of the personalities that have shaped it.  Today there is even more good information available and improving your technical motorsport and engineering knowledge will prepare you well for interview and help in the early stages of your career.

Formula 1 Tech Guides

  • Formula 1 Technical Analysis 2011-2012
  • Giorgio Piola has been been writing his excellent guides to each year’s Formula 1 cars since 1994. His technical drawings are now used by the official Formula 1 website to explain various aspects of the rules and recent innovations.

    Each book is very well presented with hundreds of colour drawings, detailing the upgrades and changes to each car through the season. Its a very quick way to appreciate how a Formula team develops and upgrades its car through the season, and shows you the layout and design aspects of the cars beneath the bodywork.

  • Red Bull Racing F1 Car Manual: An Insight into the Technology, Engineering, Maintenance and Operation of the World Championship-winning Red Bull Racing RB6 (Owner’s Workshop Manual)
  • Whilst this book is marketed as a bit of fun by Red Bull and the famous Haynes manuals it actually has some great photos and explanations of various aspects of the car layout. It would be especially good for people who are not overly familiar with what goes where.

    The book is marketed as showing the 2010 RB6 model but many of the photos are several years older than that as the team obviously wants to protect its later designs. A good and informative book nonetheless ! Haynes have also started to produce similar manuals on older and classic Formula 1 cars.

  • Race Car Vehicle Dynamics
  • This book is highly technical but is the bible of many race engineers and vehicle dynamicists.

    It covers every aspect of car handling, setup and vehicle performance and is well illustrated to explain many of the fundamental concepts. It also covers tyre performance and aerodynamics. Recommended only for the technically minded.

  • Race Car Aerodynamics: Designing for Speed (Technical including tuning & modifying)

    From Formula One, to Indy Car, Drag and Sedan Racing, this book provides clear explanations for both engineers who want to improve their design skills, and enthusiasts who want to understand how their favourite cars go fast. The book explains: How aerodynamics win races. Why downforce is more important than streamlining and drag reduction. Wind tunnel designs, methods and results-what you can and cannot believe. Full definitions of terms, with equations and examples provided for determining key aerodynamic parameters like drag, lift and side-force coefficients, fluid viscosity, or wind-tunnel corrections. Numerous examples using specific race cars, passenger-based prototypes, and open-wheel designs.

    Who works in Formula 1 is an annual directory published at the beginning of each season. It gives superb detail on each driver, team, the key people who work there and contact details for suppliers and each grand prix organiser. Its quite an expensive book but possible a worthwhile investment if you are serious about working in the sport.

This page is still under construction so I plan to add to it as and when I get time. Please feel free to come back and check again in the future


8 thoughts on “Recommended Reading – Technical & Engineering

  1. Hi, I am not quite 17, I already have quite a bit of mathematical background and excel in AP Physics. I have been engineering already on various stock cars for some time now but my dream has been to become an Engineer in Formula 1 since i was in the 5th grade. I live in Indiana here in the states. I am interested in some of these technical books but have not been able to find them available online for here in the US yet. Could you provide some info for me? Thanks!
    -Blaise Geoffrey Abbott

  2. hi
    i was just wandering wahat is the difference between being an aeronautical engineer and a mechanical engineer?

    • Hi

      Aeronautics engineers are concerned with aerodynamics, it the shape of the outside of the car whereas a mechanical engineer is concerned with the inner workings such as the engine & the suspension.

  3. Dear Sir/Madam,

    I was wondering if the two books, “Race Car Vehicle Dynamics” and “Race Car Aerodynamics: Designing for Speed (Technical including tuning & modifying)”, are too high-techy for a 17 year old student? (although I am quite academic!) I am currently reading “Science of Formula 1 Design” but that book gives a general overview, but I want to learn more of the nitty-gritty scientific explanations accompanied by complex mathematical formulae!

    Also, along the same lines, I don’t watch the sport very often due to exam commitments, but I am a person who loves the technical side of F1, especially the sleek aerodynamics. Do you think this could put off future employers who prefer people who live and breathe the sport and know names off by heart. I mean, I do know the structure of the sport, but my knowledge of its history is very poor!

    Thank you very much in advance.


    • Hi Michael

      They are very technical books – probably university level rather than school and they take quite a lot of mathematical background to understand.

      F1 teams aren’t interested in people who know all the driver’s names and who finished 5th in last year’s British GP, those sort of things don’t matter too much. It doesn’t help you do a job.

      If you understand the sport its more about having an instinct for what is true and what is just TV paddock rumor. Hard to explain but its something that only comes from watching lots of racing and reading from a range of sources. Driver biographies are quite good.

      A good read for you might be “The Unfair Advantage” by Mark Donohue

      Mark was an American driver with Penske in the 70’s who took a huge interest and part in the engineering of his cars. He raced in all sorts of categories but it’s great to hear the lengths that he went to to improve his cars and gain that “Unfair Advantage”. Sadly he was killed in a Formula 1 crash.

      • Thank you a lot for your reply! Would you suggest any simple, but technical books?
        Thank you again, Michael

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