Mark Blundell

Born:
8th April 1966 (Age 52)
Barnet, London
Nationality:
British
Most recent race (in database):
Biography

Mark Blundell’s route to Formula 1 was not a conventional one. Growing up competing in motocross as a teenager rather than karts, the Englishman switched to Formula Ford 1600 in 1984 and immediately proved successful. He won 25 times but was denied both Junior titles by Jonathan Bancroft.

Successful early racing career and jump to F3000

His promise was rewarded with the Grovewood Award for up-and-coming Commonwealth talent. 1985 Esso British FF1600 and 1986 European FF2000 Champion, he decided to jump straight to Formula 3000 in 1987 with a family-run Fleetway Racing Lola T86/50-Cosworth. He impressed straight away – finishing sixth at Vallelunga and second at Spa-Francorchamps when the race was stopped early.

Signed by the works Lola team for 1988, he opened his campaign with second place at Jerez. Further podium finishes at Brands Hatch (third) and Zolder (second) helped Blundell to sixth in the final championship. His third season in the category driving Middlebridge Racing’s Reynard 89D-Cosworth was in tandem with a sports car programme for Nissan. Unfortunately, his debut at Le Mans came to naught when co-driver Julian Bailey crashed into John Nielson’s Jaguar in the first hour.

Grand Prix graduation and Le Mans victory

Blundell also worked as test driver for Williams for the next few years and he continued with Nissan sports cars in 1990. The highlight was pole position at Le Mans and his performances were worthy of an F1 drive for 1991. Blundell joined Martin Brundle in Brabham-Yamaha’s line-up while continuing his testing duties for Williams. Sixth in Belgium was the only points finish of the year and Blundell was overlooked for the following season.

Joining McLaren as test driver in 1992, he won the Le Mans 24 Hours in a one-off with the dominant Peugeot team. That success reminded F1 of Blundell’s worth and he joined Ligier for 1993 with Brundle his team-mate once more. The year began with his Renault-powered JS39 third in South Africa and fifth in Brazil. Fourth on the grid in France, he again finished third in Germany and was 10th in the World Championship. However, a series of incidents dented his reputation. Blundell moved to Tyrrell for 1994 and finished third in the Spanish Grand Prix but he lost his drive at the end of the year.

Blundell was McLaren’s test driver once again in 1995 and benefited when star signing Nigel Mansell struggled to fit into the McLaren MP4/10-Mercedes. Blundell deputised while the car was modified and saw out the season after Mansell walked away. He scored six points finishes that year and was 10th in his final World Championship season.

A race winner in Champ Cars

Blundell switched to Champ Cars in 1996 with PacWest Racing but he suffered brake failure at 195mph when entering Rio de Janeiro’s Turn 4. Lucky to escape with a broken foot, he was out of action for three races. His second season with the team included three victories as Blundell finished sixth overall. Most notable of those was edging Gil de Ferran by 0.027sec at Portland in what was the championship’s closest finish so far.

A title challenge seemed inevitable but the next three seasons did not match that success. Blundell was again sidelined, this time for eight races, after injuring his back in a testing accident at St Louis in 1999.

Sports cars once more and life after racing

He left PacWest and Champ Cars at the end of 2000 and drove for MG at Le Mans for two years. Part of the Bentley team for 2003, he finished third at Sebring and second at Le Mans when sharing with Johnny Herbert and David Brabham. But by now Blundell was increasingly committed to a new television career with ITV and as a driver manager with 2MB Sports Management, the company he formed with Brundle.

Although he is no longer seen on British television he is now the sole proprietor of 2MB as it expands into football.