F1 Commentator Martin Brundle on Inventing the Grid Walk, Driving Legendary Cars, and Why the Sport Should Always Be a Little Scary

You have driven at least one car in every decade of Formula 1. Is that true?

Yes a lot. I’ve been driving 61 now, since [Juan Miguel] Fangio’s streamliner from the 1950s to three of the latest hybrids and pretty much everything in between. Basically, it’s just something I love to do.

What do you remember about driving? Senna 1986 Lotus Renault 98T?

One of the best days of my life. Check it out in Donington. Needless to say, beautiful car. And I remember sitting in front of it, you would look out, you had such a great view, because you were so far ahead. They usually put the driver on the front of the car to balance the weight of the engine, which is why most of my generation are lame, if they are still alive.

What about driving? Michael Schumacher’s F1 2000?

Great car. I compared it that day to my Benetton. So, only a few generations apart, and how they differ, is just how much better the Ferrari is than the similar Benetton I’ve raced.

The last: Lewis Hamilton’s W06 Hybrid Car in 2015, around a wet Silverstone.

Only non-stop power. I can not believe it. Like driving a turbine. Even though it was raining, I put my foot down, and it continued to accelerate. You get a small beep in your ear to let you know when to shift gears. You don’t even think about shifting gears. You do not feel it Shifters. And I actually thought, “If I don’t take off the accelerator, I’ll take off, even in the rain.”

Cars are just so much better at steering. Much more direct. You turn the wheel, the car goes. That’s something I’ve never been used to racing.

What do you learn when you enter the cockpit of several monsters from different eras?

You know that all the great cars that have won the races, the ultimate special cars with features built around them, are beautifully balanced. Whatever they did, no matter how fast they went at the time, they only worked with you, the driver. You feel like one with them, even if you feel pretty scared in something like Fangio’s Mercedes. Yes, technology is continuing to evolve. I mean, I had a button on the steering wheel in the 80’s. Last time I was in [Fernando] Alonso’s car, I counted 47 different controls, including some with quite a few submenus. You are then asked to dial certain numbers minus two or so. I don’t know how they do it.

What is your button?

My button is for radio. And then, incredible, finally, a second stopper for a drink bottle, which we don’t use, because it just throws hot water down your throat and makes you cough.

Does horror ever enter the equation when you’re driving one of these, given what you know can happen to machines with this kind of power? F1 Commentator Martin Brundle on Inventing the Grid Walk, Driving Legendary Cars, and Why the Sport Should Always Be a Little Scary

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