Daily: 29th September 2011

29 September, 2011 at 00:00 (GMT+01:00)

By Colin McBain

Hello all and welcome to Thursday.  We've had time by now to look back and reflect on what was a reasonably good Grand Prix.  For the leader it was a pretty boring, formulaic race but for those further down the field things got a little more interesting.  I've decided not to do a Memorable Moments post this time around, primarily because the Singapore GP has only been around four years and apart from the Nelson Piquet Jr thing and the Felipe Massa fuel-rig thing in '08, there's really been nothing specifically memorable about this track.  There was of course the Hamilton vs. Massa thing this year, then again, the main reason why that's memorable is because it only happened four days ago.  All this is unfortunate, because it means I'll need to work extra hard to make this Daily a little more interesting.  Still, needs must, and my efforts are exemplified here.  Back in August I did a YouTube-inspired motor racing biography of English racing driver James Hunt.  This time I've chosen another English racing driver-turned-pundit-turned-commentator-turned-father-of-a-racing-driver, Martin Brundle.  So here we go:

  • Martin Brundle first came to public prominence in the British F3 Championships in 1983, his second season in the tier, where he was involved in a tense, season-long battle with some Brazilian guy by the name of Ayrton Senna.  They raced hard against each other, and in some cases, a little too hard.  Fortunately, he had a lucky escape and would go on to finish second in the end-of-season standings behind Senna, with the championship going right to the final laps of the final race.
  • Martin got his first taste of Formula 1 the following year where he drove for Tyrrell.  It was an up-and-down year, ups consisting of scoring points in his very first race in Brazil and a podium at Detroit, downs consisting of a qualifying crash at Monaco - here he is, talking about it - and worst of all, having all his results annulled when the team was disqualified from the 1984 season due to a technical infringement.
  • Martin Brundle also forayed into Sports Cars during the 80s, such as debuting the Jaguar XJR-6 no. 51 at Mosport Park, Canada.  Sadly, it was the same day Manfred Winkelhock lost his life as a result of a bad accident after exiting the pits on cold tyres.  In 1988 he won the World Sports Car Championship for Jaguar alongside teammates Eddie Cheever, Andy Wallace, Johnny Dumfries, Jan Lammers and John Nielsen.  He also won the Daytona 24 Hours the same year alongside teammates Raul Boesel, John Nielsen and Jan Lammers.
  • In 1989 he returned to F1 and drove for the Brabham team.  The car wasn't terribly competitive, however, but his finest hour was the Monaco GP that year.  He qualified 4th and ran as high as 3rd whilst lapping faster than the race leaders until a mechanical problem forced him in the pits.  He rejoined in 10th and fought his way up to finish 6th, one of the hardest-fought 1-point in F1.
  • Brundle continued his success in Sports Cars when he won the Le Mans 24 Hours in 1990, again in a Jaguar, alongside teammates John Nielsen and Price Cobb.
  • Predominantly due to his success in Sports Cars, Martin took part in the International Race of Champions in America [not to be confused with the Race of Champions held in Europe every winter] in 1990.  He enjoyed reasonable success in the 3-race series, winning the second race in Michigan, gaining pole at the third race in Cleveland and ultimately finishing 3rd in the overall standings.
  • As the interviewer in the last clip suggested, Martin Brundle returned to Formula 1 in 1991, again racing for the Brabham team, but his best finish that year was a 5th place in Japan.  The following year he moved to Benetton, where he became teammate to some German guy named Michael Schumacher.  1992 was a good year, regularly running Schumacher hard and achieving his career-best finish in Monza, finishing 2nd.
  • 1993-1995 were less consistent, driving uncompetitive cars and using unreliable engines, but he also had some lucky escapes, like this one at Brazil in '94 whilst driving for McLaren.  It wasn't the first time Brundle's head has been in the way of part of another car but he incredibly walked away from this incident unscathed.
  • His last year in F1 was also challenging, driving for the Jordan team.  The season did not start well, thanks to a first lap accident at the Australian GP - another lucky escape.  His form improved, however, as the season progressed with regular points finishes.  He scored points in his very last race in Japan, finishing 5th.
  • 1997 was a year of transition for Martin Brundle.  He accepted a new role as co-commentator alongside his teammate Murray Walker, a role he carries out to this day.  Even behind the microphone he's provided us with memorable moments.  During the grid-walk at Valencia in 2009 he demonstrates the barging and wrangling reminiscent of a Schumacher or a Senna whilst trying to interview Sebastian Vettel.  He's even injected some Murray Walker-esq excitement into his commentating style, like when Jenson Button drove into the wrong pit-box in China this year.  His last comment a fitting link that brings us right to the beginning of his F1 career.

Overall, Martin Brundle is officially the most experienced F1 driver without winning a Grand Prix, gaining a pole position or setting the fastest lap of a race.  He was unfortunate in that he was rarely in a car that was capable of winning races and when he was, i.e. 1992 when he drove for Benetton, it was the same year as Nigel Mansell and the Williams team was totally unbeatable.  On the other hand, winning Le Mans and Daytona are not to be sniffed at.  Perhaps his son, Alex Brundle, is destined for big things in the big sport and can ultimately emulate his father.  Only time will tell.


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