(c) 'Who is Who' by Steve Small, 2000 Родился: 08.04.1966 Барнет, Хартфордшир Сезонов в Ф1: Лет в Ф1: 5 Гран При: Старты: 61* *не стартовал: 3 Победы: подряд: Подиумы: подряд: Поул-позиции: подряд: Первый ряд: подряд:
Сезонов в Ф1:
Лет в Ф1:
5 Гран При: Старты: 61* *не стартовал: 3 Победы: подряд: Подиумы: подряд: Поул-позиции: подряд: Первый ряд: подряд:
61* *не стартовал: 3 Победы: подряд: Подиумы: подряд: Поул-позиции: подряд: Первый ряд: подряд:
3 Победы: подряд: Подиумы: подряд: Поул-позиции: подряд: Первый ряд: подряд:
Mark Blundell is typical of a generation of British drivers who have worked so hard to get into Formula 1 - a lot of talent but not a lot of money. This former motocross rider had a quite remarkable first season in Formula Ford, winning 25 of his 70 races and receiving the 1984 Grovewood Award in recognition of this achievement.
The next two seasons were spent in FF1600 and FF2000, before Mark plunged straight into the F3000 championship for 1987 with an elderly Lola. Cracking drives in early-season races at Spa and Vallelunga brought him points-scoring finishes and seemed to vindicate his decision to miss out on the traditional stepping-stone of Formula 3, especially when he was offered the works Lola for the 1988 F3000 season. Second place in the opening round at Jerez showed promise, but the season then slid away in a mire of development tweaks that saw the car engineered out of competitiveness.
In some ways 1989 was a make-or-break year for Blundell in F3000. He moved to the Middlebridge team and all the ingredients for success seemed to be there, but his season was ragged and he failed to make the top ten in the final points standings. Nevertheless he must have shown something, because Nissan paired him with Julian Bailey in their rapid car to contest the endurance championship and Williams signed him as a test driver for 1990.
It was a year well spent as Mark familiarised himself with the intricacies of a Formula 1 car, but with no prospect of racing for the team in the immediate future he understandably accepted an offer to join Brabham-Yamaha for 1991. Paired with the experienced Martin Brundle, he was certainly not overshadowed, and scored his first championship point at Spa in the Belgian GP. However, the finances of the team were already parlous and Blundell was reluctantly shown the door in favour of 'paying guests' at season's end.
The 1992 season was again spent on the F1 bench, Mark acting as test driver for McLaren, but brought an unexpected highlight when, in a one-off appearance for Peugeot, he won the Le Mans 24 Hours with Derek Warwick and Yannick Dalmas. The well-funded but under-achieving Ligier team had changed hands and, despite much criticism in the French press, new owner Cyril de Rouvre hired both Blundell and Brundle to revive their fortunes in 1993. Mark's superb third place in the opening race, followed by a fifth next time out in Brazil, boded well, but as the season wore on question marks were raised as the number of spins and incidents mounted, and suddenly he was facing an anxious winter, hoping to land a drive in 1994. In the event he found a berth at Tyrrell and Mark's third place in Spain was a fillip for a team struggling to restore their lost credibility. Surprisingly, it was the hitherto unregarded Katayama who took the eye as the year progressed and once more Mark was seeking employment at season's end. Luckily for him, Nigel Mansell's highly touted return to F1 with McLaren ended in farce, and the no-nonsense racer stepped up from the role of test driver, impressing everyone once more with his commitment. Though not far behind team-mate Hakkinen in terms of points, Blundell was perhaps always seen as a stop-gap until the arrival of David Coulthard, and he grabbed the opportunity to continue his racing career in Indy cars at PacWest after impressing in testing sessions which included fellow aspirants Allan McNish and JJ Lehto.
It was to be a frightening baptism for Blundell, who survived a monumental crash in only his second outing at Rio which sidelined him with a foot injury. Naturally it took some while for his confidence to return, but in 1997 success came in the form of three race wins (at Portland, Toronto and the 500-miler at Fontana). So outstanding were his performances that it seemed that Mark was a serious championship contender for 1998, but the PacWest bubble had burst, and the hapless driver ended up a lowly equal 17th in the final points standings. His 1999 season was no better, interrupted as it was by a neck injury incurred in a testing accident which caused him to miss eight races.
However, PacWest and sponsor Motorola still have great faith in their man, handing him a new two-year contract. Mercedes are focusing their efforts on Bruce McCaw's outfit in 2000, so Mark can look forward to an upturn in his fortunes and is confident of a return to the winner's circle.
(c) 'Who is Who' by Steve Small, 2000
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