Johnny Herbert and Damon Hill’s top five sports books of all time

Former Formula One racers and TV commentators Johnny Herbert and Damon Hill share their favourite sports books, and we grill them on all things F1. 

Not content with racking up 25 Grand Prix victories, 458 championship points, a Le Mans win and one World Championship title between them, Johnny Herbert and Damon Hill have earned cult status among Formula One fans as sharp and observant commentators and pundits. In Lights Out, Full Throttle they offer readers a tour of the sport, from Monaco to Silverstone. Along the way, they let us in on getting the yips, what it’s like to have an out-of-body experience while driving a car at 200mph, and the future they see for the sport they love. We met up with Johnny and Damon to get their recommendations for the best sports books, and to ask them who they think is the best driver of all time . . . 

Maradona: The Hand of God

by Jimmy Burns

Book cover for Maradona: The Hand of God

This is the incredible story of arguably the greatest, and most certainly the best-known, footballer of the modern age. Jimmy Burns’s extensively researched book takes the reader from the slums of Buenos Aires to the huge stadiums of the United States, through Maradona’s career playing for some of the greatest teams in the world. This is one of the best sports books for football fans, and the story of an icon. 

Barbarian Days: A Surfing Life

by William Finnegan

Book cover for Barbarian Days: A Surfing Life

William Finnegan’s Pulitzer Prize-winning memoir tells the story of a life spent chasing waves around the world. From his childhood memories of surfing in California and Hawaii to tackling some of the most challenging waves in the South Pacific, Australia, Africa and beyond, Barbarian Days is an adventure, a social history and an extraordinary account of dangerous obsession and enchantment. 

To Hell and Back: An Autobiography

by Niki Lauda

Book cover for To Hell and Back: An Autobiography

Even people who know nothing about Formula One have heard of Niki Lauda’s infamous crash at Nurburgring in 1976. He was dragged from his Ferrari so badly injured he was given the last rites, but he was racing again just 33 days later. This is the story of his incredible comeback, his epic rivalry with James Hunt and the strict childhood which spurred him on to achieve excellence. For Formula One fans, this is one of the most exciting sports books out there. 

The Greatest: My Own Story

by Muhammad Ali

Book cover for The Greatest: My Own Story

This is Muhammad Ali’s story, told by the man himself. He worked with writer Richard Durham for six years, and the result was this mesmerising memoir, full of brilliance, drama and entertainment. From growing up in the southern states of America, surrounded by racism and bigotry, to being crowned sportsman of the century by the BBC, this is the memoir of one of the greatest sportsmen the world has ever seen.

The Secret Race

by Tyler Hamilton & Daniel Coyle

Book cover for The Secret Race

This explosive book is a look inside the world of professional cycling and the doping scandal surrounding the sport and it’s most famous rider, Lance Armstrong. Tyler Hamilton was once one of the world’s top-ranked cyclists, and Lance Armstrong’s most trusted lieutenant. But just weeks after he won the gold medal at the 2004 Olympics he was exiled from the sport after he was found guilty of doping. This riveting and courageous book tells the hard truth about the world of cycling and the difficult decisions to be made when competing at a world-class level. 

In this video Johnny and Damon tell us all about their favourite circuits, the most innovative designers in F1 and their new book: 

Lights Out, Full Throttle

by Damon Hill

 Lights Out, Full Throttle is the oily rag for the petrol-head fan to inhale while waiting for the racers to line up on the grid. From Monaco to Sliverstone, Johnny’s crowd-surfing to Bernie’s burger bar, Johnny and Damon take the reader on an entertaining and informative tour through Formula One.