How to buy my book/Reviews

I have a limited number of my 1994 book Grand Prix: A Century of Racing by Patrick O'Brien available to sell. If you would like a new signed copy, please e-mail me at:
centuryofracing AT

This 1994 book was published prior to the creation of my Rating System, which I devised in 2002. It does not include the Rating System. 


Letter from Paul Frere, Belgian Grand Prix driver, Le Mans winner, engineer & journalist, 5 January 1995.

At this point, I cannot say that I have read your Grand Prix book from the first to the last page, but I have picked several chapters I was specially interested in, and what I read was very interesting. I have never seen a book on motor racing including so many statistics of all kind, and these alone are more than worth the expense, whatever it may be. And up to now, I have not found a single error, which is very rare indeed! Computing all those data and giving them a meaning is a heroic work which I really admire.  I hoped the book sells well, and I am sure it will sell well in Europe, as I am sure it will get very good reviews in the motor sport and classic car press, which is essential.

Peter Windsor:

A monumental work of research and statistical analysis, studying the 834 major events in the sport, between 1894 and 1993. Packed with tables, graphs and drawings of the drivers and cars.

Patrick wrote an excellent book in 1994 entitled "Grand Prix: A Century of Racing", published by AA Racing Ltd, South Africa. 

Review by Planet F1 forum member, Bill Bali, playwright, London, 19 Sept 2011:

There is so much debate here on Planet Formula 1 about all things F1, and so many posters with more knowledge than myself, which is why I joined. 

Recently I also bought another F1 book: GRAND PRIX: A CENTURY OF RACING, by Patrick O'Brien, whom many of you know as POBRating.

I really can't do the book justice in so few words: Patrick's approach is just... so methodical. I've never seen so much information collated and presented in such depth and clarity: Possibly every important statistic since 1894; and set out in an easily comprehensible manner utilising hundreds of again easily legible tables and graphs.

Further, illustrated with innumerable, beautifully rendered line drawings: portraits of every driver, every car; the whole is a loving tribute to F1, offering an insightful, deeply passionate and technical analysis of the subject.

So when POB talks about his ratings system I have to admit I tend to believe what he says!  Although he is the first to admit the system's not perfect, when I asked how soon could we all get access to the methodology he uses for his ratings, he replied:
'...I accept that many will disagree with the ratings. I work on many lap and race times and use season averages, so my stats are not far out. Generally driver/package/car time differentials do not vary very much race-to-race. But committing drivers to ratings, especially with figures to 1/100 second I must expect flak!...'
Patrick's GRAND PRIX: A CENTURY OF RACING is very specific in it's scope and premise, but Lord does it fulfill that premise/scope so thoroughly and beautifully.  I am in awe of Patrick's talents; as a writer, an illustrator, and to be honest, a little jealous of some of his experiences. 

Having grown up near the Kyalami race track, he would skip school when the F1 circus was in town and ride his bicycle 25km to the track.  There his obvious love and passion for the sport, the drivers and the cars, grew so that even decades later, he is still as in love with the sport as ever.  He is as keen and supportive of the younger drivers of today, such as Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg, as the greats and epic drivers of his youth, Fangio, Clark, Hill, many of whom he met in those glorious and epic days that some of us can only imagine, or better still, relive through his fantastic book.

For us on Planet Formula 1, the book is absorbing, informing, and dare I say it, so authoritative, we may well never need enter a dispute about F1 again.


Review by Ales Norsky, Grand Prix Analyst.
Published : on Czechoslovak website: “” on 7 November 2012.

PATRICK O’BRIEN: Unrecognized pioneer

I have been following Formula 1 since the early 1970s and from the very beginning, statistics and its analysis became my primary interest. Soon, I started to compile a list comparing drivers taking part in the World Championship. The rating method for this list evolved from childish through amateurish to somewhat sophisticated, until it finally reached the current, ridiculously complicated, form comprised of 20 different criteria.

Needles to say, for most of its existence my list basically was ignored by the few friends with whom I shared it. Nobody ever saw it as anything else than a source of amusement. Imagine my surprise then, when about six years ago an accomplished F-1 personality Peter Windsor mentioned in his column for the F1 Racing magazine one Patrick O’Brien, and his driver rating system. Suddenly, I have discovered that there was someone else with the same passion. However, the article did not provide any details and my attempts to contact Windsor through the magazine and SpeedTV (where at the time he was part of the broadcasting crew) were ignored. But I was determined to find out more and after a while, with little help from a couple of internet friends, was able to obtain a book (Grand Prix: A Century of Racing) written and published by Patrick O’Brien in 1994. Although it featured a foreword by Max Mosley himself, the book had only been published in Patrick’s native South Africa and not commonly known. It contains general description and analysis of 834 major Grand Prix type races run between 1894 and 1993. Patrick’s attention to detail is impressive, and in fact, trying to thoroughly follow his complete methodology is almost exhausting for the reader. Although 20 individual drivers are singled out as most competitive, the end result does not culminate in an announcement of an overall best driver of all times, but rather it introduces a Championship table for each year reviewed, based on various data, including uniformly applied alternate points distribution system. Of course there was no Championship between 1894 and 1949, so here Patrick offers a glimpse on how it could have been. For the World Championship years, his version does not always correlate with the official results. The work also includes a similar analysis of race car manufacturers, and is enhanced by a number of graphs and tables.

Almost exactly a year later, I bought another book that was just published in England: Analysing Formula 1 by Roger Smith with assistance from Mark Hughes. This book covers the World Championship years of 1950-2007 and also provides an analysis of various data in order to determine the best drivers during those years. The search is quite quickly narrowed to the ‘Magnificent Seven’ and the rest of the book centers mainly around them. In the end, they are ranked in order to reveal the No.1. Although this book follows it own path, it also looks quite similar in format to Patrick O’Brien’s book, right down to the graphics, which are more colorful and sophisticated, but not necessarily substantially different. Smith had since become an accomplished author, whose new book (Formula 1: All the Races) has been published earlier this year.

Nothing noteworthy happened in the world of statistics and analysis during the next few years, until in 2011 Patrick O’Brien resurfaced on the internet as contributor to Peter Windsor’s blog page. By then, Patrick was using a completely new and ambitious method for driver evaluation, designed to compensate for car performance variations and focused primarily on side-by-side comparisons of two or more drivers, not necessarily from the same era of racing. Once again, Patrick’s attention to detail was meticulous, but for whatever reasons, his contributions were presented there for only few short months. Since then, Windsor’s blog has morphed into an internet TV show that periodically features Sean Kelly, who also provides Formula 1 statistical data to TV commentators in several countries.

Shortly thereafter, Patrick O’Brien started his own blog where he continues to write his commentaries and driver evaluations, and maintains a small but steadily growing group of followers. In mid-October he had published a comparison of Michael Schumacher’s Ferrari teammates Eddie Irvine, Rubens Barrichello, and Felipe Massa. And only days later, the new (November 2012) issue of F1 Racing featured a summary of Massa’s years at Ferrari since 2006. It includes criteria such as average difference in fastest race lap time compared to teammate or average distance to teammate at the end of the race...which again is quite reminiscent of what Patrick had been doing on his blog for some time. All these curious similarities are of course probably purely accidental, but the fact that Patrick O’Brien remains an unrecognized pioneer of data analysis is, at least in my mind, undisputable.


Review by Jo - Mon Apr 22, 2013 3:25 pm - posted on

I am glad you brought up the piece on your blog, Patrick, because I have been meaning to make a comment about it. It is hands-down the best piece of writing on Formula 1 that I have ever had the pleasure of reading. I've been meaning to provide you with some more detailed feedback when I get a chance, but I wanted to take this opportunity to say that. All of your work is truly sensational - analytical, insightful, interesting (I could fill up a whole page with superlatives) - but this piece stood out for me [Dominant Drivers]. One of the best things about Formula 1 is that it breeds such involving and complex topics and that there are analysts like yourself out there really increases my enjoyment of the sport. Thankyou for sharing your thoughts.