180mph flip does not faze Brundle

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The Independent Online
David Coulthard remembered only fragments of Martin Brundle's horrifying crash: "I just felt the back end fishtail. Then I saw Martin upside down going towards the gravel."

Johnny Herbert only got impressions: "I just felt a little tap, and then I saw Martin flying upside down over the top of me, like Top Gun without the camera!"

Brundle himself, however, was precisely aware of everything that was happening as his Jordan was launched over their cars at more than 180mph. "I remember all of it," he said with no discernible emotion. "I had just started to brake for Turn Three. All of a sudden three cars seemed to tangle and come over my way. The closing speed was just too much. As soon as I hit the back of Johnny and David I just launched straight into the air, and then I was in trouble.

"When I came down upside down and started hitting the gravel I thought, 'Hmmm, I don't like this very much.' I pulled my head down a bit and there is gravel rash on my helmet, but that's all. The fact that the engine nearly prevented me getting out of the cockpit was a bit alarming, but I didn't feel wobbly when I got out. I felt absolutely fine and asked them to take me back to the pits, because there was quite clearly going to be a restart."

Like Derek Warwick at Monza six years ago, Brundle sprinted up and down the pit lane before climbing into the spare Jordan. "I had to run around looking for Professor Sid Watkins. The doctors had said I was OK but I had to find Prof to get his clearance. I think when he saw me running the last 500 metres he came to the conclusion that I wasn't in too bad a shape."

Brundle put behind him the shunt that had left his Jordan's engine and gearbox attached to the chassis by nothing more than an umbilical cord. "I've never trashed a racing car before in my life! But my head was resting against the headrest cushion and I'm absolutely 100 per cent fine. No headache, nothing. Just a sore ankle from running down the pits. I haven't seen the accident yet. I'll probably feel it's more remarkable when I do."

In fact, he was notably underwhelmed by the magnitude of one of the worst- looking shunts since Ayrton Senna's at Imola two years ago. "It seemed to go on a long time. The last couple of rolls were a bit unnecessary, I thought. I'd got the message by then to be honest that I'd had an accident. I didn't feel I needed the last two...

"The only time I panicked a little bit, just for half second before I calmed myself down, was when I felt fluid running all over me and I was upside down and thought it was fuel. I just wanted to get the hell out of it. But that was just my drinks bottle. False alarm.

"Yeah, of course I'm lucky, but what are you going to do? This is what I do for a living."

Altogether, a very cool customer, Mr Brundle.

Melbourne details

AUSTRALIAN GRAND PRIX (58 laps of 5.269km/3.274-mile Albert Park track).

1 D Hill (GB) Williams-Renault, one hour, 32min, 50.491sec (198.736kph/ 123.492mph).

2 J Villeneuve (Can) Williams-Renault, 1:33.28.511

3 E Irvine (GB) Ferrari, 1:33.53.062.

4 G Berger (Aut) Benetton-Renault, 1:34.07.528.

5 M Hakkinen (Fin) McLaren-Mercedes, 1:34.25.562.

6 M Salo (Fin) Tyrrell-Yamaha, 57 laps.

7 O Panis (Fr) Ligier-Mugen-Honda, 57 laps.

8 H-H Frentzen (Ger) Sauber-Ford, 57 laps.

9 R Rosset (Bra) Footwork-Hart, 56 laps.

10 P Diniz (Bra) Ligier-Mugen-Honda, 56 laps.

11 U Katayama, (Japan) Tyrrell-Yamaha 55 laps.

Not classified: P Lamy (Por) Minardi-Ford, 42 laps; M Schumacher (Ger) Ferrari, 32 laps; G Fisichella (It) Minardi-Ford, 32 laps; Rubens Barrichello (Bra) Jordan-Puegeot, 29 laps; D Coulthard (GB) McLaren-Mercedes, 24 laps; Jos Verstappen (Neth) Footwork-Hart, 15 laps; J Alesi (Fr) Benetton-Renault, nine laps; M Brundle (GB) Jordan-Puegeot, one lap; J Herbert GB) Sauber- Ford, DNS. Fastest lap: Villeneuve: 1:33.421 on lap 27 (204.313kph/126.957mph).

WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS: 1 Hill 10pts; 2 Villeneuve 6; 3 Irvine 4; 4 Berger 3; 5 Hakkinen 2; 6 Salo 1.

CONSTRUCTORS: 1 Williams-Renault, 16pts; 2 Ferrari 4; 3 Benetton-Renault 3; 4 McLaren-Mercedes 2; 5 Tyrrell-Yamaha 1.