1991 BELGIAN GRAND PRIX
Martin Brundle, posing with Carlos Ghys.
Few drivers could boast the depth of experience that honed Martin Brundle into such a strong competitor during his 13-year career in F1.
The Englishman's career took off in 1983 when he was matched against Ayrton Senna in the British F3 Championship. Despite nine consecutive defeats by the Brazilian, he vowed never to give up. On the 10th occasion he turned the tables, and thereafter their duel made this the best F3 series in history. Senna finally won through, but both graduated to F1 the following season, Senna with Toleman, Brundle with Tyrrell. Martin was fifth on his debut in Brazil and second only to Nelson Piquet in Detroit in only his eighth Grand Prix, though a row over ballast between entrant Ken Tyrrell and the FIA later saw the team's points canceled.
Brundle came back from an ankle-breaking accident in the next race, in Dallas, but his career had lost some of its momentum. He raced for Zakspeed and Brabham after Tyrrell, but it was not until he joined Benetton for 1992 that he first got a break with a top line team. There, partnered with the emergent Schumacher, he acquitted himself well after a difficult start. He should have won in Canada but for a fluke transmission failure, and but for Schumacher enjoying better fortune in the timing of a pit stop, would have won the Belgian GP. He was thus stunned to be dropped at the end of the year. If nothing else, he was a survivor, and after a season with Ligier he bounced into McLaren for 1994 after a nail-biting winter.
Unfortunately, that was McLaren's fruitless season with Peugeot power, so it was back to Ligier for 1995 before he joined Jordan in 1996. A self-confessed mediocre qualifier, Brundle overcame a tough start at Jordan which saw him crash dramatically on the opening lap of the season's first race, in Melbourne. He came back from that, and from some troubled subsequent outings, to out-qualify highly rated teammate Barrichello regularly, but his F1 career ended as the season finished.
Since then he has appeared in sportscars again, the arena in which he had always been a top liner, and forged himself a new reputation as the logical and erudite replacement for the late James Hunt with ITV's television commentary team.