Ayrton Senna’s Principles of Race Driving is a great book. Is it the first book I’d recommend to a newbie driver taking his car to the track for the first time? Probably not. I’d recommend Drive to Win, Going Faster!, or Speed Secrets first, then this book. Principles of Race Driving gives a look inside the mind of Ayrton Senna arguably one of the best Formula 1 drivers to ever grace the cockpit. It covers everything from the correct seating positions to exercises and diet plans used by Senna (and more than likely his contemporaries) to gain endurance and be physically and mentally prepared for anything coming their way during the race.
The book begins by discussing the seating position, how to turn the steering wheel correctly, and how to shift gears with minimum disruption to not upset the balance of the car. Next he delves into determining the fastest line through a track and the basic physics of the car (oversteer, understeer and sliding) which then leads to the discussion of passing and general passing etiquette (which, by the way, etiquette goes out the door on the last few laps of the race if your position is being contested). Continuing on with the racing discussion, he touches on car setup and how important it is to understand enough engineering to be able to discuss competently what needs to be changed with the vehicle, how to choose gearing for a track and then the beginning of a race; from the start to the first few laps and what to expect and how to handle it. The book ends with chapters devoted to physical training, visualization and the proper diet to be able to handle the demands placed on the body during a race.
Principles of Race Driving is now very hard to find since it has been out of print for many years. I found a copy on Amazon.com and even though I paid more than I wanted to, it was definitely worth the price in my opinion.