F1 COMMENTATOR AND EX-FORMULA 1 DRIVER
Born on 1 June 1959 in King’s Lynn, England, Martin Brundle started his racing career in 1971 at the tender age of 12, driving a self-built Ford Anglia grass track car near his West Norfolk home.
Throughout this time, school and technical college life were not ignored, Martin gaining 12 ‘O’ levels and a distinction pass Diploma in Business Studies. Pole position for his first circuit race at Oulton Park in 1977 in his Toyota Celica GT was followed by many races learning the circuits of Great Britain.
1979 offered his first single seater opportunity in a Formula Ford 2000. One win and several placings followed. Out of the blue, Martin wrote a letter to Tom Walkinshaw to seek the opportunity to drive one of his racing BMW cars. Amazingly, he agreed and Martin lined up on the front row against an International field of drivers, eventually finishing second after an epic race.
Martin partnered the great Sir Stirling Moss in the BP/Audi team in 1981. BP sponsorship took Martin into Formula 3 for 1982 achieving five pole positions, two wins and the prestigious Grovewood Award as the most promising Commonwealth driver.
In 1983 Martin signed for Eddie Jordan’s fledgling team to take on the mighty Ayrton Senna in Formula 3, Senna taking the Championship from Brundle only in the final laps of the final race. Both were immediately elevated to Formula One, Martin spending three seasons (1984-1986) with the Tyrell team, collecting a second at Detroit in 1984 and many World Championship points. However a broken ankle and both feet sustained during a high speed crash in Dallas were a serious setback.
Martin’s Jaguar era started in 1982 driving the Tom Walkinshaw Racing XJS in the European Touring Car Championship with a winning debut at Donington Park. He was chosen as lead driver when Jaguar returned to the World Sportscar Championship at Mosport, Canada in 1985. In 1988, Martin left Formula One for Jaguar in the American IMSA Series and the World Sportscar Championships. Starting in January with a win in the famous Daytona 24 hours, the World Championship was also his by October in Fuji, Japan.
Two seasons with the Brabham Grand Prix team in 1989 and 1991 had some point scoring successes, divided by a further season with Jaguar, the highlight of which was winning the Le Mans 24 hours in 1990. Martin also made history by finishing 1st and 2nd in the same race at Monza in 1991, driving both of the stunning Jaguar XJR 14s during the race.
1992 was Martin’s most successful Formula One season alongside Michael Schumacher in the Benetton Ford team, scoring points in 11 of the final 12 races, including five podiums and finishing 6th in the World Championship.
Early 1994 saw Brundle claim the number 8 McLaren seat vacated by Senna. Second and third in Monaco and Australia respectively were the highlights, but poor reliability were the very public low points, although again finishing seventh in the World Championship. A series of strong performances on his second stint at Ligier in 1995 was highlighted by a podium finish at the demanding Spa Francorchamps circuit in Belgium, behind Schumacher and Hill.
Martin drove for the Jordan Peugeot team in 1996. After a spectacular crash in Melbourne, the season progressively improved with competitive top six finishes in five Grands Prix.
In 1997 Martin moved alongside the legendary Murray Walker for the F1 ITV television production in the UK, with their commentary also beamed worldwide to tens of millions of viewers in English speaking nations.
Martin’s own UK series of ‘Great Escapes’ programmes was an instant hit with 9 million viewers, again on ITV.
Le Mansassaults in 1998 and 1999 for Toyota led to a stunning 3 min 29 sec pole position and easily leading the race. However technical problems sidelined the car on both occasions.
In 2001 Martin led the Bentley team back to Le Mans after 71 years; leading the early stages of the race until mechanical problems retired the car.
From 1996 to 2004, Martin was a board member and then Chairman of the Board at the British Racing Drivers’ Club, the owners of Silverstone. He was instrumental in the significant improvements to the venue and road systems, and the retention of the British Grand Prix through that period.
From 1998 to 2008, Martin managed the commercial affairs of his former track rival and close friend, David Coulthard.
For the 1998, 1999, 2005 and 2006 seasons Martin won four highly coveted Royal Television Society Awards for his widely regarded commentary on Formula One and was on stage at the 2008 BAFTA’s with his co-presenters receiving the award for Best Sports Programme. His technical insight features from the wheel of an F1 car have also two further RTS Awards.
In 2004, Martin published his first book “Working the Wheel” – an account of driving the great race-tracks of the world.
In 2007 he was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Civil Law from the University of East Anglia in recognition of his achievements in the world of motor sport.
After twelve successful seasons of commentary for ITV, including his very popular live ‘gridwalks’, Martin moved to the BBC in 2009 to continue his commentary role in Formula One racing.
At the commencement of the new season in 2012, Martin moved to Sky to present live commentary’s in Formula One racing.
- British Racing Drivers’ Club Gold (1988) and Silver Stars (1983). Gold Medal (2003).
- Segrave Trophy (1988) for “Courage, Imagination, Initiative” by land, air or water.
- Royal Television Society Sports Pundit Awards 1998, 1999, 2005, 2006.
- Autocar Motorsport Award 2003.
- Guild of Motoring Writers. Driver of the Year 1988.
- BAFTA for Best Sports Programme 2006 and 2008.