Formula 1 is the most glamorous sport of all and many books have been written about it. But now a Seaford-based writer has compiled the most comprehensive record of its history ever published. David Hayhoe talks to Kim Mayo about his labour of love.

DAVID Hayhoe got into Formula 1 in the early Eighties when Nigel Mansell was just embarking on his stellar career.

It would take until 1992 for Mansell to win his one and only world championship with the Williams team in a racing career which also took in stints with Lotus and Ferrari.

The moustachioed British hero was not your archetypal Formula 1 champion. For a start, he was bulkier than most of his competitors. He shunned the glamorous side of the sport and, always relatively taciturn, he let his driving talent and determination do the talking for him despite being a perennial favourite of commentator Murray Walker and millions of fans across the globe.

“I was excited by Mansell, because he was not a natural,” said David. “Of course there were drivers with more talent, but maybe not as much determination.

“Ayrton Senna was so gifted, he was a joy to watch but it is difficult if not near impossible to pick one driver as the greatest of all time.

“There was Juan Manuel Fangio and Jim Clark, both of whom are undoubtedly right up there and there was Niki Lauda, who died recently.

“When you consider what he went through after his horrific crash at Nurburgring and coming back a matter of weeks later before going on to win a third world championship in 1984, he was certainly the bravest and one of the most inspiring.

“I also really admired Michael Schumacher for what he achieved. His skiing accident after he had retired was an absolute tragedy.”

David admits compiling his book of stats and facts, entitled Formula 1: The Knowledge was “a real labour of love”.

The second edition, fully updated, has just been published and is an absolutely fascinating read for any Formula 1 nut like myself.

It covers the period from 1950 to the present day and is broken down into easily accessible chapters with titles such as Coincidences, Car Numbers, World Champion Drivers, Pole Position Drivers, Fastest Lap Drivers and so forth.

In fact, everything you could possibly want to know about Formula 1 is encapsulated in this single yet somewhat weighty tome.

I spent several hours dipping in and out of it over the course of several days and it will undoubtedly remain an extremely valuable reference book.

David’s love of the sport is all down to listening to a radio programme reviewing the 1980 season and, talking to him, his enthusiasm for the sport is palpable.

When I told him that my Formula 1 hero was, and still is, James Hunt, David laughed.

“Well he certainly was a character, wasn’t he,” he said. “James had it all really. He loved the glamour, he was extremely good looking and he absolutely adored women. Plus when he was not racing he was rarely seen without a drink or a cigarette. It was a different time then but he certainly lived the dream.”

Hunt went on to form a fantastic commentary double act with Murray Walker but was sadly lost to us aged just 45 after a massive heart attack.

Over the years, unlike Hunt, many drivers have died in pursuit of their love of speed.

Arguably the greatest loss of all was Senna. If Mansell was manufactured then the Brazilian was pure magic.

He had it all. Flat out speed and unbelievable bravery. He also believed that God truly was on his side.

Unfortunately, God was nowhere to be seen when Senna suffered fatal head injuries in that terrible smash in the San Marino Grand Prix of 1994.

In recent times it has been Britain’s very own Lewis Hamilton who has dominated the headlines.

The five-times world champion is seemingly firmly on course for yet another title but is respected rather than loved despite the fact he is clearly the most talented driver of his generation.

For David though one suspects his favourite will always be Mansell, the man who helped spark his love of Formula 1.

Formula 1: The Knowledge by David Hayhoe is published by Veloce Publishing, priced at £55 and is available now.