Sunday, 18 September 2005 01:47
Martin Brundle (born June 1, 1959) is an English motor racing and former Formula One driver known chiefly as the man who ran Ayrton Senna close in British Formula Three and as ITV Sport F1 commentator.
Brundle was born at King's Lynn, Norfolk, England. A very intelligent and fast racing driver, Brundle never really got the breaks at the top level of single seaters, but when offered opportunities in other disciplines, he took them. He was the 1988 Worlds Sportscar Champion, with a record points haul, and won the 1990 Le Mans 24 hour Race for Jaguar in a XJR-9.
Sportscars and Brabham
Through years of inferior equipment and sabbaticals from F1, it was eight years before Brundle would legitimately claim a podium finish, although the top step eluded him. In 1992 he enjoyed by far his best season, with a very strong finish to the year. The closest he came to a win was in Canada, where in a race of attrition, Brundle looked to be favourite to inherit the lead before he himself broke down. He never managed to outqualify his illustrious team-mate Michael Schumacher, but in the second half of the year was regularly able to outrace the young German. At Spa, Brundle overtook the future champion. Schumacher noticed blisters on his team-mates' tyres and came in for slicks, a move that won him the race. Had Brundle not overtaken him, perhaps he may have pitted that crucial lap earlier, a victory the possible result.
Despite an excellent 1992, Brundle found himself dropped from Benetton for 1993, Italian Riccardo Patrese taking his place. Brundle came close to a dream deal with world champions Williams, but in the end Damon Hill won the drive instead. Still keen to stay in F1, Brundle found himself racing for Ligier in 1993. Another podium was achieved in a good season for the Brit.
Going into 1994 he had no contract, but was very much in the frame for the vacant McLaren seat alongside Mika Häkkinen. McLaren were hopeful of re-signing their former driver Alain Prost, at that time the reigning world champion. Prost, who had retired after winning his fourth title, decided not to return and so Brundle got the drive. It was a case of bad timing in many ways. McLaren were on the cusp of a downturn and throughout 1994 were unable to win. The team's Peugeot engines were somewhat unreliable as was to be expected from a debuting engine supplier. At Silverstone Brundle's motor was thought to explode right at the starting grid. In reality the culprit was a faulty clutch that cracked spilling its lubricants on top of hot engine causing a spectacular fire. Nevertheless, Brundle put in some strong performances that season, most noticeably at Monaco where he finished second only to Schumacher.
Having had poor luck and with Nigel Mansell signed to McLaren for 1995, Brundle once more raced for Ligier that year, although not for the full season. To appease Mugen-Honda he had to share the second seat with Aguri Suzuki, a move denounced by many commentators and fans. He impressed however, a strong fourth at Magny-Cours and what would be his last F1 podium at Spa, the highlights. In 1996 he teamed up with Rubens Barrichello at Jordan and enjoyed a good season, despite a slow start and a spectacular crash at Melbourne's inaugural GP, with regular points, fourth his best result.
Post Formula One
Having largely retired from motor racing, Brundle is now highly regarded as a commentator on British television network ITV, where he is co-commentator alongside James Allen and occasional presenter for the network's F1 coverage. He draws on his experience to provide depth to his commentary in a similar way to the "color commentators" on American TV. Brundle is smart, witty and with an exceptionally good command of the English language. For his commentary of the 1998 and 1999 seasons Martin won two highly coveted Royal Television Society Awards and in the 2005 RTS Sports Awards he won an award for "Best Sports Pundit".
Presently, he is also David Coulthard's manager.
Brundle took the wheel of a Jaguar F1 car for the Formula One demonstration in London prior to the 2004 British Grand Prix.
Although he never won a race, he achieved 9 podiums, and scored a total of 98 championship points, with a best championship finish of 6th in 1992. He was especially strong on street circuits and similarly slow-speed courses â€” Monaco, Adelaide and the Hungaroring each produced 4 points finishes for him.
His sports car prowess led to an invite to the 1990 International Race of Champions, a three-race series in 1990 because of the switch to Dodge cars, where he won the second round at Cleveland's Burke Lakefront Airport during the Champcar event, albeit with a shortened field. (One of the 12 drivers had been injured in a crash in another discipline of racing the previous day, and was unable to participate. That driver was not replaced.)
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