How Murray Walker made great F1 championship moments special (Video)

Posted on | Author Keith Collantine

Damon Hill wins the 1996 F1 title while Murray Walker chokes back a sob (C) Sutton
Damon Hill wins the 1996 F1 title while Murray Walker chokes back a sob (C) Sutton

You never forget a great championship-deciding moment. But what can turn a memorable moment into an emotional peak is a well-delivered commentary.

Whether shocking, joyous or poignant, these are some of the great high points, for me, of recent years.

No surprise the commentary for much of them was supplied by Murray Walker – whether it was Nigel Mansell’s tyre exploding, controversial clashes between Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost or Jacques Villeneuve and Michael Schumacher, or Damon Hill becoming the first champion’s son to win a world title, Murray was there, trousers ablaze…

1986 Adelaide: Nigel Mansell

And look at that! And colossally that’s Mansell! THAT IS NIGEL MANSELL! Now this could change and will change the world championship…

1989 Suzuka: Alain Prost vs Ayrton Senna

This is the opportunity that Senna’s looking for, and he’s going through… OUT! Oh my goodness! This is fantastic! They meet – this is what we were fearing might happen during the race. And that means to say that Prost has won the world championship.

1990 Suzuka: Alain Prost vs Ayrton Senna II

And Senna spints away – but Alain Prost takes the lead. It’s happened. Alain Prost has taken the advantage, Senna is trying to go through on the inside – and it’s happened immediately! This is amazing! Senna goes off at the first corner! But what has happened to Prost? He has gone off too! Well that is amazing but, I fear, absolutely… predictable.

Suzuka 1996: Damon Hill

(from 3’47)

This is going to be a mighty emotional occasion for a lot of people, not the least of whom is myself but Damon Hill will be concentrating in the cockpit, there, but when he comes out of it his arms will go up and the helmet will come off – there is his wife, Georgie, she’s seen her husband become world champion, now she’s seeing him win the Japanese Grand Prix because he is almost home.

This is something that many people didn’t think could possibly happen today, they thought Damon would drive a cautious race, but he fought, He fought from second on the grid, he passed Jacques Villeneuve, he took the lead, he stayed there, and Damon Hill exits the chicane and wins the Japanese Grand Prix.

And I’ve got to stop, because I’ve got a lump in my throat.

Jerez 1997: Michael Schumacher vs Jacques Villeneuve

From 6’00

Martin Brundle: Villeneuve is all over him look, he’s going through.
Murray Walker: He’s through!
MB: Oh, yes!
MW: Oh!
MB: I don’t think…
MW: Out goes Michael Schumacher!
MB: I don’t think that worked, Michael, you hit the wrong part of him, my friend…

Suzuka 2000: Michael Schumacher

From 4’13

A br-rilliant race for Michael Schumacher, who exits the chicane for the 53rd and last time, to win the 2000 Japanese Grand Prix and the world champinoship, for the third time. To give Ferrari and Italy their dream. And look, look! He knows it. He is absolutely beside himself with joy.

Have you got a favourite commentary moment from a world championship decider? How did other commentators report the big moments in F1’s history? Share your links and quotes in the comments.

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26 comments on “How Murray Walker made great F1 championship moments special (Video)”

  1. Epic moments, each one. If you are British and of a certain age (and an F1 fan), you know these by heart.

  2. Mussolini's pet cat
    27th October 2008, 10:10

    a legend…anyone who thinks otherwise is a fool.

  3. schumi the greatest
    27th October 2008, 10:16

    i love the jerez commentary, murrays voice goes so high pitched when he says:

    “he’s through” “oh..” “out goes michael schumacher”


  4. stevepCambsUK
    27th October 2008, 10:47

    i have this video at home what a classic…… i grew up listening to murray, just a shame the bbc wont team him up with brundle for next season, he is 85 years old, even a guest appearence for one race would be amazin

  5. Murray was brilliant, I used to love it when there was an accident and he just used to shout “aaaawwwwwww!!!!”

  6. Its Hammer Time
    27th October 2008, 11:16

    This article has just put a smile on my face on an otherwise dull monday morning. You live a race through the commentary…anyone who has watched an F1 race abroad would I’m sure agree something is missing. It also shows the fine line that makes a commentator great.

    Murray was passionate and we all adore him to this day…mistakes, warts and all. James Allen trys the same tactic of trying to bring the race alive by trying to describe the racing as a soap opera…and fails miserably. I want Murray back…Guest Appearance next year if one of the regular BBC team cannot do it…maybe even bring back Fleetwood Mac.

  7. Murray Talker. Very, very irritating voice and loads of silly utterances.

  8. Love this Article Kieth, Walker is a legend who made the sport magical for me when I was younger.

    I’m wondering what James Allen’s reaction will be like If Hamilton wins the championship this weekend, I hope he doesn’t do a cringe worthy Shouting fit like he did when Button won in Hungary 06.

    Just mindless shouting, unlike Walkers gracious, well thought out commentating masterpieces, like Suzuka 96 which still makes me emotional!

    Did anyone else think that his reaction to Kimi winning at Brazil last year was sad. He hardly commented on Raikkonen, you could just tell he was gutted for Hamilton, very unprofessional.

  9. David Watkins
    27th October 2008, 13:41

    I loved his commentary on the start of jerez 97. ‘villeneuve gets away well but schumacher gets away better better better!’ As he yelled this brundle was chuckling and had a calming arm on murray’s shoulder. Another that sticks out is when michael drove into the back of dc at spa. Murray got the moment perfectly with a huge ‘OH GOD!’

  10. Of course Murray is a Legend. Synonymous with F1 from the beginning.
    What strikes me is people not having a problem with his passionate patriotism – especially Mansell, Hill – I certainly never had a problem with it.
    So why is there a problem with British commentators support for Lewis Hamilton?
    Murray would be waxing lyrical about him if he was on the mike. Absolutely no doubts whatsoever…

  11. Even in American F1 fans know Murray is brilliant. Great clips.

  12. Nick Caulfield
    27th October 2008, 20:43

    Some nice memories. It’s interesting that recently, Clive at the F1 Insight blog published an article which largely said that he did not understand why anyone would get attached to one broadcaster or commentator over another but gets angry about the reports that the FIA are trying to stop the BBC employing Martin Brundle on principle. I’m right there with the people Clive finds faintly ridiculous.

    Despite the number of times I’ve said to the screen “No Murray it’s [whoever]”, I still loved his commentary.

    I had the pleasure of meeting him once and it only cemented my view that he was one of life’s greats.

  13. just imagine if lewis does to massa what senna did to prost.
    the internet would go into melt down,

  14. Jay – it wouldn’t be a good idea for Hamilton, Mosley has already said a driver would lose the championship for doing that: Schumacher would have lost ‘94 title under modern rules.

  15. David Watkins
    27th October 2008, 22:37

    It doesn’t matter how many times I watch it I’m always shocked by how blatantly Senna dispatched Prost into the gravel. His move in 1989 at the same track was also the wrong side of ambitious.

    Watching Villeneuve limp towards the line at Jerez is still some of the most exciting stuff in F1 history.

    The reason Murray is so popular is his humility. Scarcely ever a snide remark at someone else’s expense and never condemning anyone in haste.

    The antithesis of the windbag pub bores of modern commentary (Andy Gray, Alan Green)

  16. The reason Murray is so popular is his humility. Scarcely ever a snide remark at someone else’s expense and never condemning anyone in haste.

    I never thought of that before. It always used to irritate me how he’d never take sides even when someone had done something obviously wrong! But now you pointed it out I think you’re dead right, that is part of his appeal.

    And I think that’s why I find it easier to get on with his brand of nationalism/patriotism/whatever, rather than the more in-your-face, patronising, ITV-style ‘you’re only watching this to see Hamilton win’ approach.

  17. David Watkins
    27th October 2008, 23:19

    Here is a good example of Murray knowing his job. He clearly disapproves of the driver’s actions but knows it’s not his job to say so and therefore he brings James Hunt in to do it.

    Very funny when Muzza realises who is holding up our Nige!

  18. And I think that’s why I find it easier to get on with his brand of nationalism/patriotism/whatever, rather than the more in-your-face, patronising, ITV-style ‘you’re only watching this to see Hamilton win’ approach.

    I really don’t get that vibe myself. Call me naive but I honestly get the impression of appropriate support for a brilliant ‘up & coming’ driver with the bonus that he’s one of ours!
    What is wrong with that on any level?

  19. David Watkins
    27th October 2008, 23:51

    Nothing is “ours” and nothing is “theirs.” It is not a broadcaster’s role to support anyone.

  20. I think the existential questions may be taking things a little too far.
    ‘Ours’ is of course meant in the colloquial sense. I honestly don’t expect to take ‘him’ home to put on the mantel piece.
    Then again, maybe I should get ‘Our Nige’ out of the cupboard just in case I’ve been wrong…

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