There's no doubt that Grand Prix racing isn't as good as it used to be. Some people suggest that each generation makes this type of observation about its most cherished cultural items; your sporting heroes, your favourite music and your favourite films, they argue, tend to come from your youth, and that which comes thereafter seems inferior in comparison. This is a type of cultural relativism. The suggestion is that sport and music doesn't get better or worse, it merely changes. In the case of Grand Prix racing, at least, I would resist this conclusion.
Grand Prix racing in the 1970s and 1980s featured a variety of beautifully sculpted and proportioned cars, racing on challenging circuits with camber and gradient, varying radius turns, and fast corners, driven by a fascinating array of talented drivers. And they actually raced in those days: they overtook each other on the track, not in the pit-stops. These days, the cars look appalling, the circuits are flat, constant-radius, emasculated autodromes designed by computer, and, whilst the contemporary sport has three or four top drivers, there is little talent-in-depth.
The most dramatic, tragic, and tumultuous season of all was 1982, and I was therefore delighted to see that Christopher Hilton has written a book devoted to this Grand Prix season.
Hilton isn't the greatest writer in the pantheon of Formula 1 journalists, but this book is a corker. Hilton draws heavily upon the recollections of key players such as Keke Rosberg and John Watson, and, in combination with the intrinsic drama of the year, this makes for a rivetting read.