Former F1 driver Martin Brundle is now in his 11th year in the commentary box for ITV. His combination of enthusiasm, humour and 165 Grands Prix-worth of experience has made him a hit with the sports’ fans.
Sportsmen in all kinds of disciplines make the switch from playing to commentating when their time as a competitor comes to a close. But few manage to do it as well as Brundle has.
This, his first and thus far only book, is his tour around the great motor racing circuits of the world, all of which have appeared on the F1 calendar – with one famous exception.
The chapter may all bear the titles of racing circuits from Melbourne to Suzuka, but “Working the Wheel” has an autobiographical feel. This is not merely s study in how to drive around the world’s most famous circuits – although there are plenty of pointers for budding racing drivers out there – it’s packed with fascinating anecdotes told with Brundle’s familiar conversational style blended with dry wit.
Brundle’s best contribution in the commentary booth, in my opinion, is the diverse lexicon he uses to describe the art of driving a racing car on the edge. “Working the wheel” is one of them – “arrive-and-drive” and “hustling” are other examples, and my personal favourite is “on the way to the scene of the accident”…
Handy though he is with a microphone, Brundle clearly belongs strapped into the belly of a racing beast. His 165 race appearances never yielded one win (you can read all about the depths of frustration he felt on coming painfully close to victory in 1992 in the chapter on the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve) and he is a fixture in lists of the best drivers never to win a race, usually vying with Chris Amon for number one.
Brundle was also an accomplished sports car driver, world champion and Le Mans 24 Hours winner so of course the Circuit de la Sarthe gets a chapter as well – and a particularly interesting one at that.
Interestingly he chooses to ignore the Circuit de Catalunya even though he must have spent an enormous amount of time testing there. And several of the newer circuits that he hasn’t raced on are also off the menu.
It’s on the short side for the money, but what you do get is highly entertaining and enlightening.