The book consists largely of long statements about Lauda transcribed from interviews, historic and recent. This unusual method may tempt future biographers to follow suit, easing their task by leaving a significant proportion of interpretation and synthesis to the reader. Hamilton’s distinguished contributors provide an informative, entertaining and sometimes eulogistic composite portrait of their fellow competitor, their idol, their pal.
Some of the most engrossing passages in this book, big on anecdote and reportage, have nothing to do with Lauda’s racing career. Hamilton, an unashamed fan, reveals a man who is far more riveting and intelligent than his ability to pilot an F1 car very swiftly around a circuit may suggest. This biography is a fitting tribute to him.
Maurice Hamilton, a motorsport journalist, keeps us waiting for five chapters of a comprehensive, and I suspect definitive, biography of Lauda before plunging us into this extraordinary part of his life. Perhaps he wants us to see the man in the round, but I could barely wait to relive it all; the drama and the horror, the defiance and the courage. The story is all the more shocking for learning that Lauda, as reigning world champion for Ferrari, had attempted to lead a boycott of the notorious circuit where three drivers had already died that year. “The important thing is to get through it alive,” he had said on the eve of the West German Grand Prix, warning of fatalities.