Exploring Mark Blundell’s diverse F1 career, from Brabham to McLaren, and his reflections on opportunities and team dynamics.
Mark Blundell had a four-year career in F1, during which he drove for four teams: Brabham, Ligier, Tyrrell (pictured below), and McLaren. In addition to his starting position at Brabham, during his debut, he was a test driver for Williams, a role he eventually passed on to Damon Hill.
However, the Brit does not regret seeing his compatriot become world champion years later, as he believes he might not have performed as well, considering himself less effective than Hill.
“I was as good as the car I was driving,” Blundell recalls. “I could have stayed with Williams, maybe, and be sitting here as a world champion like my friend Damon Hill, but things are what they are. So, I didn’t do it.”
“I called Damon to tell him I was leaving Williams and for him to come fill the spot I was vacating! But, you know, that’s how it goes. After that, McLaren came knocking and told me ‘come back to us and work with us because we might need your input.'”
Blundell’s Unexpected Rise in McLaren
In 1995, Blundell thought he would have to settle for a test driver position, after McLaren managed to attract Nigel Mansell. However, the 1992 world champion never managed to fit in the car: “I wasn’t really aware there were already issues with Nigel.”
“And at that point, it became clear, when I signed a contract to do testing, that maybe I should have been more forward-thinking and had my racing contract in place! It was unfortunate for Nigel, but fortunate for me, and I embraced it and made the most of it.”
Blundell thus became the principal driver for the challenging MP4/10 (pictured at the top), and explains that he and Mika Häkkinen were not treated equally, partly explaining his difficulties compared to the Finn: “The car wasn’t good. I think that’s the case for everyone.”
“At McLaren, it was said that it wasn’t one of the best cars ever made. It was the first year for the Mercedes-Benz engines. And most of the time, my engine was inferior to Mika’s because he was designated as the number one driver at that time.”
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