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24 September 2014

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Martin Brundle is now a F1 commentator.
Martin Brundle is now a F1 commentator

Martin Brundle interview

Martin Brundle, one of the finest Formula 1 drivers never to win a Grand Prix, now plays a major role in the sport's TV coverage. As one of Norfolk's more famous sons, he and his wife Liz spoke to Roy Waller about life on and off the track.

How did you start motor racing?

I was just a hobby racer racing for fun. I started in Pott Row, a few miles from where I live now. It was grass track racing, that sort of thing, banger racing really.

I then went hot-rod racing, still for fun, but did quite well and ended up in Formula 3, then this guy called Senna came along, we had a bit of a ding-dong battle and suddenly I was in Formula 1.

Despite the grass roots beginning, was it always your aim to get to Formula 1?

Well, it is the pinnacle. Not everybody likes Formula 1, but for those who do - and it attracts several hundred million viewers around the world - whether you're a spectator or a prospective driver it's the pinnacle of the sport. 

You want to be Formula 1 World Champion, or to win the Monaco Grand Prix or the British Grand Prix or something like that.

Liz, you spent years watching Martin careering around at high speeds, how did it make you feel?

Well, I never really had much choice, and if somebody's going to be a racing driver then it's in them, and you can't stop it.

Martin and his wife Liz popped into the studio.
Martin and his wife Liz

Having met Martin when we were at college in King's Lynn I grew into the sport with him, and I loved it. To be honest, I'm more concerned about my son than I ever was with Martin, because now I know the dangers and what can happen.

So it wasn't something you ever tried to talk him out of?

No, the only time we ever discussed him stopping was when Ayrton [Senna] was killed. That shook everybody in the sport.

Everyone thought Ayrton was invincible, such was his talent. It really shook us both and we did talk about whether Martin should continue, but it's something that's in him, and there's no way I could stop him.

Martin, you never won a Grand Prix, was that frustrating?

Yes, and do you know it's something that gets more frustrating with every year that passes. I was on the podium 10  times in Formula 1, but it was always second and thirds, it frustrates me enormously.

It doesn't eat me up though because I'm involved with many of the current drivers, I know almost the entire grid and I don't begrudge any of them their success, but yes it does frustrate me to this day.

How did you manage in that cockpit, it's like being crammed into a small shoe isn't it?

Well, you actually feel very secure, it's like a Saville Row suit, it's made for you, everything about it fits you, and nobody else can get in your car unless they take out a lot of equipment and re-set it for themselves.

It's very tight at first, but it has to be, and when you've got all your gear on, the helmet, the four layers of fire-proof clothing, your balaclava, your gloves and your fire-proof boots you feel very secure actually. I loved it, and I miss it badly.

last updated: 25/11/05
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