Book Review: Adam Parr’s “The Art of War”

 This was originally posted on Richard’s F1 – Check it out here!


Named after the famous text “The Art of War” by Sun Tzu, Adam Parr’s fresh, comic strip style memoir is a fascinating glimpse into the murky world of Formula 1 that fans rarely get an insight to.

“The Art of War: Five Years in Formula One” chronicles Adam Parr’s half a decade in the sport as Chairman and CEO of Williams F1 from 2006 – 2012, a tumultuous time for the sport and an era of even more political manoeuvring and intrigue than usual (and that is saying something for Formula 1!).

Those who follow the sport will recall the shock at Adam Parr’s resignation announcement in early 2012, and this book goes some way towards explaining that decision and the events that culminated in the end of his short-lived era.  This includes the creation and demise of FOTA, the various teams and manufacturers that left the competition and the effects of the global financial crisis on the sport, among others.

The illustrations, drawn by the talented Paul Tinker, bring unexpected life to the story of the intense Formula 1 competition – not on the track, but at the meeting room tables, where every man (just like on the track) is looking after their own interests.  Contemporary F1 politics at its finest…presented in black, white and red for your viewing pleasure.

It is interesting to see how Parr paints the relationships between the teams and where suggests “things went wrong”.

The thin volume – numbering 80 full pages – isn’t heavily narrated by Parr himself.  As Max Mosely states in the foreword, Parr presents the story in a way that encourages the readers to draw their own conclusions about the events of the last 5 years in the sport.  This is all part of the charm of the book however, which is filled with unlikely delights - the neat gallery of “main characters” (named “Debts and Lessons”) at the beginning of the book, coupled with a sentence or two on that character’s philosophy was a pleasant addition (For example: Bernie Ecclestone: Self deprecation, Lack of interest in material things, sense of humour and patience – who would have thought?).

The book does leave the reader craving for more however – Parr only briefly touches on the main events and it does feel a little light on detail in areas.  Rather than an intense analysis and expose, this is more a peek behind the curtain, a run through the back of house dealings…a preview of something more perhaps?  I hope so.

Nonetheless, given the beauty of the book itself, and the interesting insights presented by an outsider who came into the industry with the stated goal to “change the culture”, this is a must for all F1 fans.  It is a fascinating, absorbing and insightful read that is highly recommended as an addition to any collection.  I am certainly a proud owner of a First Limited Edition printed copy myself!

In fact, using our unique ‘Chequered Flags’ rating system, “The Art of War” is awarded


  • Awesome because it was – contemporary, innovatively presented and a rare, honest insight.
  • Could do with – more detail, more insight…it was too good to be this short!

Want to buy the book? Check it out here.

Yassmin Abdel-Magied