This has to be my old sparring partner Martin Brundle. When I started in Formula Ford in 1984 he was already in Formula 1 with Tyrrell but I caught up with him in 1991 when we were team-mates at Brabham. Then, in 1993 we were back together at Ligier. I was the first ever British driver at the French team and when Martin joined they had two rosbifs to contend with. So now we were rivals as well as good friends, which can be tricky as we are both very competitive people. It never came to blows but there were some ‘tense moments’. We laugh about those now.
“Your biggest rival in a grand prix is your team-mate but we were united in our efforts to push the team ahead. I got Ligier its first podium for a long time at the opening race in South Africa in ’93. Martin was happy for me through gritted teeth but he began to get the upper hand as he was always an excellent communicator and he’d bothered to learn French. I do remember, one race at Estoril, he managed to put me on the grass at 180mph. F1 is dog eat dog. It was gritty stuff and I wasn’t too pleased. When we flew home together to Norwich Airport the atmosphere wasn’t good. We didn’t speak for two hours, then we got off the plane, looked at each other, and he said, ‘You OK?’
I said, ‘Yeah,’ and that was it. All fine.
“We had some good laughs along the way. He was third at Imola in ’93. I was out after seven laps and very fed up. On the way to the airport we were stopped by the Italian police after I did a racing start from the toll booth. They didn’t believe I’d just done the San Marino Grand Prix so I grabbed Martin’s trophy from the car, told them, ‘This is mine,’ and suddenly it was all smiles and they gave us a police escort to the airport.
“Martin was a hard driver, no slouch behind the wheel, but neither of us gave each other anything. We were tough rivals on track. We had different driving styles.
I was stronger in the quick stuff. He was better in the slow stuff and on the technical side. The lap times were very similar but the way we got there was quite different.
“I learnt a lot from Martin when I came to Formula 1. He was there before me and he was a super-smart guy both in and out of the car. I was never good at the politics. I didn’t have the capacity to work everything to my own advantage. I just gave it my all on the track, whereas Martin was more strategic, very good at making sure he had everything under control.
“People always called us the ‘Brundell Brothers’, we were that close. In 2004 we ran a management business together called 2MB and we’re still great friends today.”
Mark Blundell and Martin Brundle head-to-head
Figures taken from Formula 1 seasons 1991 and 1993-95
Blundell did not take part in the 1992 F1 season