Mark Blundell

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Mark Blundell
Mark Blundell portrait 2011.jpg
Portrait of Blundell
Born (1966-04-08) 8 April 1966 (age 48)
Barnet, London, England, UK
Formula One World Championship career
Nationality United Kingdom British
Active years 1991, 19931995
Teams Brabham, Ligier, Tyrrell and McLaren
Races 63 (61 starts)
Championships 0
Wins 0
Podiums 3
Career points 32
Pole positions 0
Fastest laps 0
First race 1991 United States Grand Prix
Last race 1995 Australian Grand Prix

Mark Blundell (born 8 April 1966) is a Formula One, sports car, and CART racing driver. He was a Formula One presenter for the British broadcaster ITV until the end of the 2008 season when the TV broadcasting rights switched to the BBC.

Background[edit]

Blundell was born in Barnet, London. He first dabbled in motor racing at the age of 14, racing motocross bikes across England. He was an immediate success, eventually becoming one of the top-ranked riders in Britain, winning a few championships. At the age of 17 he made the switch to four wheels in Britain's Formula Ford. Again, he was rewarded with instant success, and in his first season he placed second in both British Junior Formula Ford Championships (despite 25 wins and 24 poles). The following year, Mark won both the Esso British and Snetterton FF1600 crowns. The next year, he upgraded his ride to the more powerful FF2000 category, and promptly won the BBC Grandstand series. He even returned to FF1600 for the European Championship racing, taking pole, and finishing fourth overall. With 1986 came another championship in FF2000, this time the European title.

At this point in his career, Blundell decided it was time to take his continuing success, and move on to international racing. He bypassed the traditional stepping stone of Formula Three and started racing in Formula 3000.[1] Despite having to cope with an underfunded and underpowered car, he showed incredible talent and strung together a series of promising results. He even started a few races at Formula Three for TOM'S-Toyota,[1] showing ability there as well. 1988 meant a switch to the works Lola team in F3000, at that time one of the biggest teams in the series. In a closely contested season, Blundell managed a very respectable sixth place in the final standings.[1]

Formula One[edit]

The following year, he made a deal with the sports car team at Nissan, landing a factory seat. He also managed a test drive with one of the top teams in Formula One – Williams. By 1990, Blundell had abandoned F3000 to concentrate on sports cars. That same year, he earned pole position at the prestigious Le Mans 24 Hours race driving a Nissan R90CK. Not only was he a massive 6.040 seconds clear of 2nd place,[2] but he became the youngest driver to ever achieve pole position at Le Mans.

Blundell driving for McLaren at the 1995 British Grand Prix.

The year 1991 marked the biggest step forward in Mark Blundell's racing career – his Formula One debut. His debut season saw a sixth place in Belgium with the Brabham Yamaha team. He also maintained his testing deal with Williams. The following season however, he was not retained by the cash-strapped Brabham team, and was left without a race seat in Formula One. He did, however, sign a testing deal with McLaren. Whilst being a full-time tester for McLaren, he also continued to race sports cars. That year, with the factory Peugeot outfit, he won the Le Mans 24 Hours, adding to his earlier pole.

1993 saw the return of Mark Blundell to the pinnacle of motorsport. A drive with Ligier netted him his first two podium finishes in South Africa and Germany. He finished tenth in the final World Championship standings. It was a one-year deal with Ligier, however, and in 1994 he signed with Tyrrell. It was not as successful a year as '93, and Blundell managed only one podium finish in the 1994 Spanish Grand Prix, which was the last Formula One podium finish for Tyrrell. At the end of the season, owing to lack of sponsorship, Tyrrell released him. This would prove to be a blessing in disguise, as the retirement of Nigel Mansell meant a return to McLaren for Blundell, this time, in a race seat. Teamed with future two-time world champion Mika Häkkinen, Blundell recorded five points finishes and once again took tenth in the final standings. 1995 also saw continued success in sports cars with a fourth place showing in Le Mans, but was Mark Blundell's final year in Formula One, as the signing of David Coulthard by McLaren meant that Mark would have to find a job somewhere else.

Blundell achieved 3 podiums, and scored a total of 32 championship points.

CART[edit]

Mark Blundell
CART World Series
Years active 1996-2000
Teams PacWest Racing
Starts 81
Wins 3
Poles 0
Best finish 6th in 1997
Awards
1997 Autosport British Driver of the Year

Out of Formula One, Blundell moved to the U.S. and joined the CART racing team PacWest Racing, with fellow former Formula One driver Maurício Gugelmin of Brazil alongside. A huge crash in the early stages of the season in Rio meant Mark had to sit out for several races owing to injury. Despite this, Mark was third in the rookie standings with three top six finishes in the U.S. 500, Detroit Grand Prix, and Michigan International Speedway races.

1997 was a breakout year, and Blundell recorded race victories in Portland, Toronto, and Fontana en route to sixth in the championship. That year he was also named British Driver of the Year by Autosport magazine.

1998 was not a year for the books, and a massive crash early in 1999 left him to languish at the bottom of the table. He returned to PacWest for a final season in 2000. However, another disappointing season – 18 pts, 21st overall – lead to a mutual split with PacWest racing.

From driving to commentating[edit]

Blundell again crossed the Atlantic to focus on his sports car racing. He failed to finish Le Mans with the MG Lola team, though he and his team-mates impressed. Off-track, Blundell joined ITV television in Britain as an analyst for the 2002 Formula One season. This position lasted until the end of the 2008 Formula One season when ITV lost coverage to the BBC.

Since 2001, Blundell's racing involvement has steadily declined, with only the occasional event. He did test a Dale Coyne Champ Car to help prepare Darren Manning for a one-off in the first CART race in Britain at Rockingham, and raced in the British round of the World Rally Championship.

2003 saw great success in sports cars. Along with Johnny Herbert and David Brabham, he finished second at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, completing a 1–2 sweep by Bentley. He also finished third at the 12 Hours of Sebring, finishing top among the Bentleys.

Blundell also spends time running a management company, 2MB Sports Management, who handle the contracts of such people as McLaren test driver Gary Paffett and British Formula Three champion and Indycar driver Mike Conway. The name refers to the fact that it was founded by Blundell and former team-mate Martin Brundle, who stepped down from the company in January 2009.[3]

In a newspaper article in 2011, Blundell was openly critical of oval racing in general, and of the 2011 IZOD IndyCar World Championship, which had claimed the life of Dan Wheldon.[4]

Helmet[edit]

Blundell's Helmet is yellow with three red stripes and two yellow gaps in the middle, a blue stripe in the entire chin area and a blue circle on the top with his golden initials on it. The rear of his helmet bears the motto "The Will To Win" - a quote from his grandfather.

Racing record[edit]

Complete International Formula 3000 results[edit]

(key) (Races in bold indicate pole position; races in italics indicate fastest lap.)

Year Entrant 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 DC Points
1987 Fleetray Racing SIL
Ret
VAL
6
SPA
2
PAU DON
9
BRH
6
BIR
DNQ
15th 5
BS Automotive PER
9
IMO
Ret
BUG
Ret
JAR
8
1988 Lola Motorsport JER
2
VAL
5
PAU
Ret
SIL
9
MNZ
Ret
PER
Ret
BRH
3
BIR
Ret
BUG
7
ZOL
2
DIJ
Ret
6th 18
1989 Middlebridge SIL
3
VAL
Ret
PAU
6
JER
DNQ
PER
Ret
BRH
Ret
BIR
5
SPA
DNS
BUG
Ret
DIJ
6
11th 8

Complete 24 Hours of Le Mans results[edit]

Year Team Co-Drivers Car Class Laps Pos. Class
Pos.
1989 Japan Nissan Motorsports United Kingdom Julian Bailey
United Kingdom Martin Donnelly
Nissan R89C C1 5 DNF DNF
1990 Japan Nissan Motorsports International United Kingdom Julian Bailey
Italy Gianfranco Brancatelli
Nissan R90CK C1 142 DNF DNF
1992 France Peugeot Talbot Sport United Kingdom Derek Warwick
France Yannick Dalmas
Peugeot 905 Evo 1B C1 352 1st 1st
1995 United Kingdom GTC Gulf Racing United Kingdom Ray Bellm
Brazil Maurizio Sandro Sala
McLaren F1 GTR GT1 291 4th 3rd
2001 United Kingdom MG Sport & Racing Ltd. United Kingdom Julian Bailey
United Kingdom Kevin McGarrity
MG-Lola EX257 LMP675 92 DNF DNF
2002 United Kingdom MG Sport & Racing Ltd. United Kingdom Julian Bailey
United Kingdom Kevin McGarrity
MG-Lola EX257 LMP675 219 DNF DNF
2003 United Kingdom Team Bentley Australia David Brabham
United Kingdom Johnny Herbert
Bentley Speed 8 LMGTP 375 2nd 2nd

Complete Formula One results[edit]

(key)

Year Entrant Chassis Engine 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 WDC Pts.
1991 Motor Racing Developments Ltd Brabham BT59Y Yamaha V12 USA
Ret
BRA
Ret
18th 1
Brabham BT60Y Yamaha V12 SMR
8
MON
Ret
CAN
DNQ
MEX
Ret
FRA
Ret
GBR
Ret
GER
12
HUN
Ret
BEL
6
ITA
12
POR
Ret
ESP
Ret
JPN
DNPQ
AUS
17
1993 Ligier Gitanes Blondes Ligier JS39 Renault V10 RSA
3
BRA
5
EUR
Ret
SMR
Ret
ESP
7
MON
Ret
CAN
Ret
FRA
Ret
GBR
7
GER
3
HUN
7
BEL
11
ITA
Ret
POR
Ret
JPN
7
AUS
9
10th 10
1994 Tyrrell Tyrrell 022 Yamaha V10 BRA
Ret
PAC
Ret
SMR
9
MON
Ret
ESP
3
CAN
10
FRA
10
GBR
Ret
GER
Ret
HUN
5
BEL
5
ITA
Ret
POR
Ret
EUR
13
JPN
Ret
AUS
Ret
12th 8
1995 Marlboro McLaren Mercedes McLaren MP4/10 Mercedes V10 BRA
6
ARG
Ret
SMR ESP 10th 13
McLaren MP4/10B MON
5
CAN
Ret
FRA
11
GBR
5
GER
Ret
HUN
Ret
BEL
5
ITA
4
PAC
9
JPN
7
AUS
4
McLaren MP4/10C POR
9
EUR
Ret

American open-wheel racing results[edit]

(key)

CART[edit]

Year Team 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 Rank Points
1996 PacWest Racing MIA
17
RIO
Ret
SRF
Inj
LBH
Inj
NZR
Inj
500
5
MIL
Ret
DET
5
POR
8
CLE
11
TOR
11
MIS
6
MDO
10
ROA
Ret
VAN
12
LS
Ret
16th 41
1997 PacWest Racing MIA
14
SRF
8
LBH
13
NZR
Ret
RIO
8
STL
Ret
MIL
12
DET
Ret
POR
1
CLE
9
TOR
1*
MIS
2
MDO
Ret
ROA
Ret*
VAN
7
LS
2
FON
1
6th 115
1998 PacWest Racing MIA
12
MOT
10
LBH
7
NZR
Ret
RIO
11
STL
10
MIL
12
DET
Ret
POR
Ret
CLE
10
TOR
Ret
MIS
17
MDO
Ret
ROA
7
VAN
12
LS
Ret
HOU
14
SRF
11
FON
6
18th 36
1999 PacWest Racing MIA
8
MOT
Ret
LBH
13
NZR
17
RIO
Inj
STL
Inj
MIL
Inj
POR
Inj
CLE
Inj
ROA
Inj
TOR
Inj
MIS
Inj
DET
10
MDO
13
CHI
Ret
VAN
Ret
LS
12
HOU
Ret
SRF
Ret
FON
Ret
23rd 9
2000 PacWest Racing MIA
13
LBH
8
RIO
7
MOT
Ret
NZR
Ret
MIL
17
DET
11
POR
Ret
CLE
12
TOR
Ret
MIS
Ret
CHI
Ret
MDO
14
ROA
Ret
VAN
Ret
LS
13
STL
Ret
HOU
Ret
SRF
11
FON
Ret
21st 18

Complete American Le Mans Series results[edit]

Year Entrant Class Chassis Engine Tyres 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 Rank Points
2003 Team Bentley LMGTP Bentley Speed 8 Bentley 4.0L Turbo V8 M SEB
3/3
ATL SON TRO MOS AME MON MIA PET 21st 19

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c "About Mark". Mark Blundell Official Website. 2012. Retrieved 23 June 2013. 
  2. ^ "Le Mans 24 Hours 1990 - Photo Gallery". Racing Sports Cars. 17 June 1990. Retrieved 15 August 2012. 
  3. ^ "Brundle to step back from 2MB role". autosport.com. 7 January 2009. Retrieved 7 January 2009. 
  4. ^ McEvoy, Jonathan; Allsop, Derick (17 October 2011). "A Senna moment: Wheldon tragedy must change this sport forever, says Blundell". Daily Mail (London). 

External links[edit]

Sporting positions
Preceded by
Volker Weidler
Johnny Herbert
Bertrand Gachot
Winner of the 24 Hours of Le Mans
1992 with:
Derek Warwick
Yannick Dalmas
Succeeded by
Geoff Brabham
Christophe Bouchut
Eric Hélary
Awards
Preceded by
Damon Hill
Autosport
British Competition Driver of the Year

1997
Succeeded by
Dario Franchitti