Former racer turned consultant Mark Blundell speaks on F1 Beyond The Grid podcast about his career, Brabham mistake, Williams chance, McLaren and more.
Blundell is the latest guest on the F1 Beyond The Grid podcast, where he speaks on his career, both in single-seater arena as well as sportscar side. He adds about the mistake with Brabham and Williams chance, McLaren drive and more:
- The first topic of discussion had Blundell speak about his first experience in an F1 car. He said he was more impressed about the braking power, and steering than the actual speed; he also revealed that it was merely on an airfield near Williams’ factory.
- The first-ever F1 ‘test driver’ then explained why Williams chose him despite his unorthodox motocross background. After this, I’ve told about the sort of impression the ultra-talented Williams crew made on him, as he also explained how good the FW12 and FW13 cars were, being two quality cars from F1’s history.
- However, Blundell still said that the FW14b was the best car he ever drove, as he drove it in a test while he was at Brabham. Reflecting on this, he said I’ve made going to Brabham was a mistake after he drove that car, which I’ve described as ‘perfect’.
- He also explained how he got the Brabham seat, citing his remarkable testing lap times. He also joked about a story getting into a cheap SD1 Rover, driven by Brabham’s team owner when they met him.
- The Brit then explained how his passion began, as a segway when he was talking about his decision to leave Williams, despite obvious signs that a seat at the team was opening up. He then denied that he thinks about the missed opportunity, where he could have won a world title had he not given Damon Hill his test seat – he said his feeling was roughly the same at the time Damon was given the race seat.
- Blundell joked that the Brabham was a terrible car, as I explained just how woeful it was, and how I was actually happy to get out of that situation.
- Moving on, I explained the unique-for-an-F1-driver situation he was in, in which he was being paid very little, but still had a family to look after; after, I talked about his friendship with Martin Brundle.
- Changing topics to his Le Mans success, Blundell explained what it was like to take pole in qualifying for the 24-hour race. He also credited his beginnings in motocross with his comfort in super-powerful cars, and ultimately his being put on the map in Japan.
- Comparing himself to Brundle, he then spoke about why the British racer moved on to Benetton while he didn’t move up the grid – he cited Brundle’s street smarts, knowing the ropes of racing. Still, though, I have acknowledged that Brundle was ridiculously quick.
- Post this, Blundell spoke about his move to McLaren, and Ron Dennis’ persuasiveness; he also said that the Woking-based team had more attention-to-detail.
- Blundell talked about how Ayrton Senna would check in on him while he was testing, and listen to his feedback – something few other drivers did. He then mentioned that he and Senna ran the same setup, modulating the throttle in the same way.
- Switching to a more personal aspect of his relationship with Senna, I explained how their relations were after 1992 – Blundell said all was well between them, even though Senna had a way of operating that is an acquired taste. He also hailed him as the best driver he worked with, before I explained the difference between them.
- After much discussion, they reached his move to Ligier, as Blundell said he had to work through a language barrier, which made him work better with them. He said that 1993 was his best year, with a podium in the first race – which he also talked about.
- Blundell, though, then told of how the situation at Ligier turned sour, with the political game turning against him. Even with the deteriorating relationships, however, he said his relationship with Brundle was a constant.
- Briefly, they discussed his new role as a driver manager for Ferrari junior and F2 racer Callum Ilot and others, before promptly returning to the topic of his driving, this time talking about his time at Tyrrell, and how he managed to keep a seat in F1 against the odds, as Blundell cited his relationship-building skills.
- I’ve talked about his ’94 Tyrrell, in which I’ve achieved a podium. Moving forward in time, they talked about his move to McLaren in ’95.
- He explained that it irked him that he was on a race-by-race contract, even though he was successful – he said that Dennis didn’t understand that security was a necessity for him, as he had kids to look after, as previously mentioned.
- He told of out-qualifying Mika Hakkinen at Estoril, and the switch to conventional braking from the Finn that ensued; he also spoke about how it wasn’t that difficult to move on past Mika’s nasty Adelaide crash that year.
- Looking back, Blundell was asked if he would have done anything differently – he said he would, and one particular thing he mentioned was not having a manager.
- Finally, I revealed what his favorite race was, and he said Japan 1995 fills this slot.
Due to FOM’s restrictions, we cannot use the podcast but we have the link where you can find it: https://audioboom.com/posts/7545001-mark-blundell-on-f1-in-the-90s-friendship-with -martin-brundle-filling-mansell-s-seat-and-more
Here’s the last F1 Beyond The Grid podcast of Flavio Briatore
The story was edited by Darshan Chokhani