|First race||Brazilian Grand Prix||Jacarepaguá||March 25, 1984||Race results|
|Last race||Japanese Grand Prix||Suzuka||October 13, 1996||Race results|
Martin Brundle never set the world on fire as an F1 driver, but he became a household name when he took up the microphone as an F1 commentator. His style was a hit - engaging the audience with his dry witty comments, insider knowledge, and overall his ability to simplify the sport without alienating hard core fans.
He took an unorthodox route to the top, starting out aged 12 in grass track racing. His career took off when he raced in a hard-fought British F3 series in 1983 against Ayrton Senna - Brundle finished a close second. Moving into F1 he raced for eight different teams, none of them top rank.
In 1988, disillusioned with racing for underfunded teams, he took the unusual step of taking a year out to compete in the world sports car championship with Jaguar, winning the title with a record points haul.
Although he returned to F1 in 1989, he failed to make an impression on any of the major teams, but continued to fight for the last of the points. His career came to an end in 1997 when the only contract he could secure was with Sauber. He turned it down and made arguably the best decision of his career - he joined Murray Walker in the F1 commentary box where he continues to inform and entertain. Brundle won the Royal Television Society's (RTA) Television Sports Award for best Sports Pundit in 1998, 1999, 2005 and 2006.
He holds the dubious distinction of having the longest Formula One career (158 grand prix starts) without a race victory, a pole position or a fastest lap. This journeyman of F1 won fans worldwide by refusing to give up regardless of his cars' failings.
Strengths and Weaknesses
He was a gritty and determined driver always trying his best to wring the last of the performance from invariably poor cars. He was especially strong on street circuits and similarly slow-speed, twisty courses like Adelaide and Hungary.
His best results came outside F1 when in 1988 he won the FIA World Sportscar Championship with Jaguar. In 1990 he won the Le Mans 24 Hour race, again at the wheel of a Jaguar.
1984 Brundle's first season in F1 - it was a year to forget. He crashed heavily in practice for the Dallas Grand Prix, breaking both ankles and both feet. To compound his terrible year his team, Tyrrell, were excluded from the championship for cheating.
"It's live. When those words come out of your mouth they're gone - forever. Sometimes you want to claw them back again."
"As a former Formula One driver, I have earned the right to have an opinion about the sport, and probably know as much about it as anybody else. I have spilt blood, broken bones, shed tears, generated tanker loads of sweat, tasted the champagne glories and plumbed the depths of misery."
Unlike many F1 drivers who move to tax havens, Brundle has always lived within a five mile radius of King's Lynn, where he was born.
Claire Furnell November 2009