Alex Brundle Interviewed
By Tim Barnes-Clay, Motoring Journalist – Tweeting @carwriteups
Twenty-five-year-old Alex Brundle is a British racing driver and son of former F1 driver and pundit Martin Brundle. He grew up in Kings Lynn, Norfolk and will be racing for British endurance racing team JOTA Sport (G-Drive Racing) in the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) for the remainder of the 2016 season.
Did you always want to be a racing driver? How much did your dad, Martin Brundle, inspire you to develop your career? It was certainly the obvious choice for me growing up. From the age of 2 or 3 I watched my dad compete in Formula One and race at Le Mans, and although I’m not sure I fully understood the consequences at the time, I could see how much his successes meant to him and the whole family. So I guess it was that, combined with a real interest in cars and racing of all descriptions, which got me into it. It certainly helped that I was that kid who excelled at all sports at primary school too!
Can you remember the first time you drove a racing car? If so, how old were you and what was it like? I started off my racing career the normal way that most racing drivers do by karting, but it wasn’t until age 14 when I got my first taste of driving an actual ‘racing car’. I remember the experience quite vividly, and at the time although I enjoyed it there was just so much to take in. I was racing in a 2L Ford engine saloon in the T-Cars series, testing for the first time at Bedford Autodrome and I just remember thinking that the circuit was massive.
How do you cope with knowing that motorsport is a dangerous/possibly life threatening sport? To be honest, I like to try and just put it to the back of my mind and tell myself that those things won’t happen to me. I’ve been in a few races before where tragedies have occurred and you just try not to associate the two. All you can do is make sure you do your absolute best to prepare yourself, so the risk is kept to a minimum.
If you hadn’t got into racing what would you be doing now? Now you’ve got me stumped. I studied business at university so some people had suggested going down that route, or even drama school. No complaints on my front with where I am now though. I wouldn’t have it any other way!
Aside from Lotus, do you think your Dad helped get Norfolk on the motor racing map? Do you feel like you are both ‘ambassadors’ for the county? That’s not for me to decide, but I’d certainly like to think we’re both carving out a reputation for the county! Motorsport fans know us both, and Dad actually has a corner named after him at our home track, Snetterton, which is pretty cool. With Dad on Sky F1 for the Grand prix punditry week in week out it’s great to hear the Norfolk accent on the big stage, and we’re both extremely proud of our Kings Lynn roots!
How is your career shaping up so far? Who manages you? It’s going from strength to strength right now, so I’m pretty excited for the future. It was an honour to get on the podium at Le Mans back in 2013 where my team finished 2nd, and for me that has definitely been the highlight so far. With that in mind, it’s great to have just signed a contract to race for JOTA Sport, as part of their G-Drive Racing team in the World Endurance Championship (WEC) for the 2016 season. The team won Le mans in 2014 so I’m excited to join what is a great line up of drivers.
What are your current plans, and plans for the future? I made my debut for JOTA Sport on July 24th at the Nurburgring in Germany in what turned out to be a tough weekend. We were fastest in every session and holding a commanding lead in the LMP2 class, but unfortunately we experienced a gearbox issue and had to retire the car. Despite the setback, there were plenty of positives to take from the weekend, and we’ll look to comeback stronger on September 3rd for our next race which will be 6 hours at the Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez circuit in Mexico. In terms of the future, I have already shown pace and aptitude in endurance racing, and really just want to continue carving out a reputation for myself in the sport.
Do you see yourself as privileged to be able to pursue this career? Absolutely! It’s an expensive career to pursue in its original guise, but that’s not say everyone shouldn’t try it. I’d encourage anyone to get down to their local karting track give it a go and get started. Corporate sponsorship is a massive help in motor racing and if you can prove yourself and gain this kind of support, who knows where it could take you.
What advice do you have for any youngster wanting to do what you do one day? Honestly just to get involved at the basic level, and see what direction it takes you in. There are so many young, talented, well-prepared drivers these days coming up through the junior single seater ranks that I’m the one that should be looking over my shoulder to watch out they don’t arrive on my doorstep – they’re doing just fine! I just hope for others to be able to share the same enjoyment and passion for motor racing.
Does it bother you that your Dad’s name is out there and might overshadow yours? Early on, I must admit the pressure was detrimental to my performance, but I think for me it was really about putting things into perspective. I had to appreciate that my Dad raced in a completely different era, with different cars and different competitors. I think you’ve just got to focus on carving out your own path, and I believe I’m doing just that having already established myself at the World Sportscar Championship level. That’s not to say, however, that Dad hasn’t been hugely influential along the way in helping to secure opportunities through the contacts he has in the sport, and to give me advice from time to time.
Do you see yourself going down the commentator route one day too? Yes, I do. I’ve actually already started! I’ve been part of ITV’s coverage team for the Formula E championships, as well as commentating for Radio Le Mans as part of their coverage of the WEC and Spa 24 hours. It’s really cool to be able to see racing from a different perspective, and I’ve found it to be a really fun experience all-round so far.