So the worst kept secret in Formula One is now officially out of the bag. At the Autocar awards last night, Martin Brundle confirmed he has signed for the BBC, proving that the corporation is still capable of sound editorial judgement when it puts it mind to it.
F1 without Brundle is almost as unthinkable now as F1 without Murray Walker before he retired (far too early in my opinion – I heard the 85-year old commentating at the Silverstone Classic this summer and he’s as good as ever).
Brundle’s brilliance lies not simply in his knowledge of the sport (any pundit should be expected to score highly here), nor the authority he brings from his first-hand experience of the subject, for that is what pundits are for.
Where he lifts himself clear of the pack is that he is also an instinctive broadcaster. He doesn’t just know what’s going on in the heads of the drivers and the teams which is merely his job, more importantly and unusually he knows what’s going on in the heads of all those millions crowded around the telly hanging off his every word. This is partly down to a ferocious intelligence, but mainly because he is an unreconstructed petrolhead like the rest of us.
His appointment will not be without issues, however. The real challenge now facing the BBC is finding the right person to be in the box with him. Though I’m confident James Allen has not deserved all the vilification that’s been thrown at him over the years, his performance has shown in the starkest terms that sounding good while also standing next to Brundle is a task beyond all but the most skilled and passionate of commentators.
So well done Auntie, but you’ve only done half the job. Many millions await your next move with interest.