- April 08, 1966
- United Kingdom
- Not Active
Mark Blundell is a British racing driver who competed for four seasons in Formula One, between 1991 and 1995, recording 61 starts with four different teams and scoring three podiums. He also spent five seasons in the American CART series, scoring three wins in 81 races.
Blundell achieved his greatest success in the sports prototype racing, winning the 1992 24 hours of Le Mans, together with Derek Warwick and Yannick Dalmas in Peugeot 905 Evo. Eleven years later, in 2003, he scored second place overall at Le Mans, sharing Bentley Speed 8 with David Brabham and Johnny Herbert.
Besides racing, Blundell had a career as Formula One TV presenter, working for ITV until 2008. In recent years, he is a successful businessman. One of his duties is managing motorsport athletes.
In 2019, he announced a surprise return as a full-time racer in the British Touring Car Championship, but just for one season.
Successful early years in motocross and Formula Ford
Mark Blundell was born on April 8, 1966, in Barnet, London. He started a racing career at the 14, riding motocross bikes and collecting trophies across England. At the age 17, he switched to four wheels, entering British Formula Ford. After four seasons in the Formula Ford and winning few championship crowns, including European Formula Ford, Mark stepped into his first major international competition in 1987.
It was the International Formula 3000. In nine races with two teams, Mark scored one podium (2nd at Spa) to finish 15th in the points. For 1988 season, he joined the works Lola Motorsport team in F3000. He reached three podiums, finishing sixth in the points. He spent one more season in the Formula 3000, driving for Middlebridge team and finishing 11th in the points, but he turned his focus on the other side, joining Nissan Motorsports in the World Sports-Prototype Championship.
Two seasons with Nissan in the World Sports-Prototype Championship
He debuted in the #23 Nissan R89C prototype in may 1989, at WSPC race at Dijon-Prenois, sharing the car with Julian Bailey. A few weeks later, Blundell and Bailey went to Le Mans, together with Martin Donnelly, to compete in the 24-hour race with #24 Nissan R89C. The car was out of the race after just five laps, because a suspension was damaged in an accident.
Later in the season, Blundell scored two podiums, finishing third in WSPC races at Donington and Spa, both times with Julian Bailey. At the end of the season, they were 11th in the championship points.
Pole position at 1990 Le Mans race
In 1990, Blundell left F3000 to focused on prototype racing only. He took a sensational pole position at 1990 Le Mans 24h, driving the #24 Nissan R90CK and becoming the youngest ever pole-sitter at Le Mans.
In the race, the #24 crew retired after 142 laps. Blundell's partners were Julian Bailey and Gianfranco Brancatelli. In the 1990 WSPC season, Blundell was 11th in the points with three podiums.
First Formula One season with Brabham
After having an opportunity to test Formula One car for Williams, Blundell joined Brabham for 1991 Formula One season, to drive #8 Yamaha-powered Brabham BT59, alongside Martin Brundle in #7 car. Mark debuted at US Grand Prix in Phoenix, Arizona. He started 24th but spun off on Lap 33. In the next race, the Brazilian Grand Prix, he retired due to engine failure.
The new car (Brabham BT60) came for the third round at Imola and it was the first race in which Blundell reached the checkered flag. He was 8th, three laps behind Ayrton Senna. He collected seven more DNFs and two DNQs, scoring only one point-scoring result at Spa. He finished sixth in the 1981 Belgian Grand Prix, taking his first championship point. It was not only the first point for Blundell but also the first point for the team.
Sensational victory at 1992 24 hours of Le Mans
The struggling team didn't retain Blundell, so he joined McLaren as a test driver. Whilst being a full-time tester for McLaren, Blundell returned to the Le Mans 24h in a one-off appearance with Peugeot Talbot Sport, sensationally scoring the greatest result of his career.
The #1 Peugeot 905 Evo, driven by Yannick Dalmas, Derek Warwick and Mark Blundell, has won the 1992 Le Mans race with a six-lap advantage over factory-entered Toyota TS010.
1993 - successful F1 season and two podiums with Ligier
For 1993 Formula One season, Blundell signed for Ligier, to drive #26 Ligier JS39-Renault. Martin Brundle was his teammate again. It turned to be Blundell's career-best season in the Formula One, as he scored two podiums and finished 10th in the points.
His first podium was a third place at season-opening South African Grand Prix, behind Alain Prost and Ayrton Senna. The next podium came at German Grand Prix at Hockenheim in July. Blundell was third, behind Alain Prost and Michael Schumacher.
1994 - one more Formula 1 podium with Tyrrell
After a one-year deal with Ligier, Blundell moved to Tyrrell in 1994. He was driving the #4 Tyrrell-Yamaha alongside Ukyo Katayama in the #3 car.
Blundell added one podium to his account, finishing third at Spanish Grand Prix, behind Damon Hill and Michael Schumacher. With a single podium and two more point-scoring results, Blundell finished 12th in the points.
1995 - replacing Mansell in McLaren F1 team
A lack of sponsorship forced Tyrell to release Blundell at the end of the season. Nigel Mansell's retirement opened the door for Blundell in the Marlboro McLaren Mercedes team, to be a pair with two-time world champion Mika Häkkinen. Blundell scored points six times with McLaren MP4/10, but he missed the podiums. At the end of the season, he was 10th in the final classification.
In June 1995, Blundell returned to Le Mans, joining Gulf Racing. He was driving the #24 McLaren F1 GTR together with Ray Bellm and Maurizio Sandro Sala, finishing fourth overall.
Three wins in the 1997 CART season
McLaren signed David Coulthard for 1996 season, so Blundell had to find a new job. He traveled to the United States, joining CART racing team PacWest Racing, together with fellow former F1 driver Mauricio Gugelmin. A crash in the second round in Rio resulted with a broken foot and ankle, forcing Blundell to miss three races. Despite this, he was third in the rookie standings at the end of the season.
In 1997, Blundell missed his first CART victory at the Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix, running out of fuel on the last lap while leading. In the next event, at Portland International Raceway, he finally scored his first victory. He added two more wins at Toronto and Fontana, finishing sixth in the points at the end of the season.
In the following three seasons, he was struggling and didn't score either one podium. He was involved in the massive crash at Nazareth Speedway in the fourth round of 1999 season, missing eight races after that because of injuries. The season 2000 was his last in the CART FedEx Championship Series but also the last season of his professional career.
Disappointing Le Mans attempts for MG factory driver
In the following years, Blundell returned to the race track for Le Mans 24h only. In 2001, he reunited with his old friend Julian Bailey in the #33 MG EX257 (Lola). The third driver was Kevin McGarrity. They retired after 92 laps. The same trio returned with the same car in 2002, again failing to finish the race. During 2002, as MG factory driver, Blundell tried rallying too. After two preparatory events, he participated in the British WRC round, driving MG ZR S1600.
TV analyst reached Le Mans podium in 2003
In the same year, Blundell started his TV career, joining ITV television as a Formula One analyst. He was doing that job until the end of 2008 Formula One season when ITV lost coverage to the BBC.
Two great successes in the sports car racing followed in 2003. Blundell joined Team Bentley in its effort with Bentley Speed 8 car. In March, he finished third overall at Sebring 12h, sharing the car with Johnny Herbert and David Brabham. In June 2003, the same trio in the #8 car finished second at Le Mans 24h, behind sister car #7 in the sensational Bentley's 1-2 victory.
Successful motorsport management
After his Le Mans podium, Blundell didn't return to the race track until 2010. In the meantime, he was running a management company MB Partners, founded together with former teammate Martin Brundle. They were managing mostly motorsports athletes. Brundle stepped down from the company in 2009.
In recent years, after retiring again from racing in 2013, Blundell's focus is on the MB Partners' expansio. Some of his world's famous clients are Gary Paffett, Mike Conway, Roberto Merhi or Tom Blomqvist but the company also runs Young Driver Academy, making the way for many young talents.
Four seasons of different competitions with United Autosports
Blundell returned to the race track in August 2010, at 24 hours of Spa, driving the #68 Audi R8 LMS for United Autosports. He partnered Eddie Cheever, Zak Brown and Richard Dean. They finished ninth. After that, Blundell joined United Autosports with Michael Shank Racing in four races of the Grand American Rolex Series, driving the #23 Riley-Ford prototype. At Daytona 24h, the four-men crew (Blundell, Brundle, Zak Brown and Mark Patterson) finished fourth overall. Blundell also returned to Spa 24h with United Autosports' Audi, but he didn't finish the race.
Blundell's commitment with United Autosports continued in 2012, in the Blancpain Endurance Series with McLaren MP4-12C GT3. Of four races, Blundell finished only one. His last races in a career followed in 2013, in two rounds of the British GT Championship, with United Autosports' McLaren MP4-12C.
Surprise return to race tracks in the BTCC
In recent years, Blundell raced sporadically in some one-make competitions or historic events and then, for 2019, he announced a surprise return to full-time commitments in the British Touring Car Championship. He was driving the #8 Audi S3 Saloon for Trade Price Cars Racing, scoring points in just two races to finish 28th in the final standings.
In 2020, he left BTCC to focus again on his business commitments.
Photos: Getty Images, thetimes.co.uk, eurocarnews.com, motorsportretro.com, lemans.org,