Formula 1 driver turned commentator, Martin Brundle, has revealed all about his grid walks, and the trust he has from the drivers due to his racing background.
Brundle has been walking the grid ahead of races for over two decades, speaking to drivers, mechanics, team bosses, celebrities and just about anybody you can think of.
These walks, along with his tremendous and fascinating insight into the sport, have ensconced Brundle with the fans and viewers at home, as well as those at the circuit.
One of his most iconic grid moments took place in Brazil when Kimi Raikkonen missed a presentation by legendary footballer, Pele, who gave Michael Schumacher a lifetime achievement award at his final race in 2006.
The Finn returned, and candidly told the broadcaster that he was taking a dump, in much less flattering terms.
More recently, the grid has been filled with a host of stars, who have been invited as VIPs to the races amid F1’s astronomic increase in outreach.
At the United States Grand Prix last season, Brundle tried to grab a chat with Megan Thee Stallion, before a member of her team, clearly unaware of how the F1 paddock works, waved him away.
He told Brundle that he could not just walk up and speak to the rapper, before the Briton brilliantly replied, “I can because I did.”
He then met a bloke who sees himself as a major Instagram influencer, and Brundle sarcastically described him as “modest” when he told him what he thought of himself.
As for the drivers, they are often busy trying to get into the zone, so are not always amenable to a chat, whereas some are a little more relaxed.
“A few of them will just shake their head and then even apologise later on,” explained Brundle, speaking to GQ.
“Or some come up to me in the paddock and go, ‘You haven’t seen me on the grid for ages, just come and talk to me on the grid’.”
Brundle observes that Sir Lewis Hamilton was usually keen for a chat on the grid before a race, but he tends to stay away from that these days.
“And then others will never talk. Lewis used to talk to me a lot and then stopped, so we take it as it comes,” he added.
Brundle can relate to hoe the drivers are feeling before a race, and that naturally gives them more respect for him when he is walking the grid trying to grab an interview.
”Yeah, I think so, they know you’ve been there, you’ve done it, you’ve seen it, you’ve crashed the car, and you’re going to ask something relevant or personal,” he elucidated.
“I never tried to dropkick them or get clever with the questions, I think that would be unfair, so it tends to be quite happy and smashy and nicey conversation.
“I’m not really going to be hitting them with an ‘I heard your contract is up soon,’ or something like that. It’s going to be relevant to the race. But generally speaking, they trust me.”
Brundle has not been in the commentary box with Croft at every race this season, with Jenson Button, Anthony Davidson and Paul di Resta occasionally filling in for him.