An F1 legend both on and off the track, LWOS takes a look at some of the best moments in the career of Martin Brundle.
Since 1984, the Grand Prix community has been blessed with the presence of Martin Brundle. A driver for 12 years and commentator for 25, Brundle is an omnipresent figure within the paddock, who transitioned from the cockpit to the commentary box with seamless ease. Through his 38 years’ involvement in Formula 1, Brundle has shown so many moments of brilliance, whether it be behind the wheel or the mic.
Brundle made his F1 debut with Tyrrell in 1984 after a thrilling Formula 3 Championship the year before, in which he narrowly lost the title to another ‘84 F1 debutant – one Ayrton Senna. Despite driving the naturally-aspirated Tyrrell around a swarm of turbo-charged cars, Brundle made good use of the nimble car around the twisty Detroit street circuit, finishing a brilliant 2nd. However, Tyrrell were disqualified from the result and the whole championship after alleged infringements of the rules, but it did not take away what was an accomplished performance from the young rookie in only his eighth Grand Prix.
4 – Rule Britannia
After many years of drives with uncompetitive teams, Martin Brundle was hired by Benetton in 1992, two years after winning the Le Mans 24 Hours with Jaguar. He was at last able to show his worth in a fast car, and on many occasions, matched the performance of his team-mate – a young, rising German wunderkind named Michael Schumacher. Brundle scored five podium finishes that year, perhaps his most memorable coming at the British Grand Prix. The race is known for winner Nigel Mansell being mobbed by his adoring fans on the in-lap after the race, but a special, and very loud cheer, was given to Brundle as he lifted his 3rd-place trophy in front of the Silverstone crowd.
3 – Street smart
In 1994, Brundle joined McLaren, and whilst a lot of the season was dampened by an unreliable Peugeot engine, it did not stop Brundle from scoring some good results when the car lasted the course of the race. The most notable example came in Monaco, where he matched his career-best finish. Gerhard Berger’s Ferrari spun at St Devote but was able to keep his 2nd place, but came into Brundle’s clutches. After chasing him hard up the hill towards Casino Square, Brundle amazingly overtook Berger on the outside into Mirabeau.
2 – Savage commentary
When British commercial TV station ITV bought the rights to show Formula 1 in 1997, Brundle was hired to commentate alongside the legendary broadcaster, Murray Walker. Brundle’s personable humor, as well as his concise knowledge and breadth of information, enabled him to be a perfect foil for the excitable Walker. Brundle is happy to speak his mind, and during the qualifying session for the 1998 Monaco Grand Prix, he produced one of the best examples of this. As the TV cameras picked-up Tyrrell driver Ricardo Rosset spinning and getting stuck on a kerb as he attempted to spin-turn the car around, the usually-diplomatic Walker said that many in Formula 1 were debating whether Rosset was Formula 1 material. Brundle’s response was short but not very sweet.
1 – Let’s go walkies
It would not be fair to single out one example from the myriad of choices when it comes to Brundle’s infamous “grid walks”. Unscripted and broadcast to millions around the world, Brundle will walk and talk to anyone and everyone, from drivers and team crew to the occasional fan, as well as, fairly often, insipid celebrities who are more than happy to accept the freebie to the race. Brundle has spoken to drivers moments before winning the World Championship, has been shoved out of the way by Megan Thee Stallion’s entourage, and has been ignored by Venus Williams and Brad Pitt.
Perhaps Brundle’s greatest grid walk moment – aside from speaking to Ozzy Osbourne in Montreal – was his cornering of then-F1-supremo Bernie Ecclestone before the 2005 American Grand Prix, asking why no solution had been found to prevent a race in which only six cars would participate. The longer interview continues, the more people are congregating to earwig Brundle’s questions – on behalf of his “eight million mates” watching in the UK – to Ecclestone.