The 62-year-old former McLaren and Williams driver’s eccentric grid walks, where he interviews drivers, team principals and VIPs just before the start of a Grand Prix, have been a cornerstone of motorsport coverage in the UK across ITV, the BBC and Sky Sports since his media career began in the 1990s.
Grid walks had been prohibited by F1 owners Liberty Media owing to Covid-19 restrictions, before returning at the United States Grand Prix in October thanks to rules being relaxed. Brundle, though, endured a farcical run-in with American rapper Meghan Thee Stallion which went viral online and caused debate about the presence of celebrities and their entourages on the grid.
The “WAP” performer ignored Brundle’s questions as he approached her, including “Megan, you’re a freestyle rapper, have you got any rap about Formula 1 for us?”, before her bodyguard stepped in and pushed Brundle away.
Now Formula 1 has made the call to oblige any VIP fortunate enough to be allowed onto the grid to lose their security entourage, Brundle told Sky Sports F1. “There have been new rules introduced, that any celebrities on the grid must not have bodyguards any longer,” he explained. “It must be the ‘Brundle clause’, and they’re obliged to talk to me. I sort of like it if they ignore me, to be honest.”
The rapper’s security “biffed” Brundle out of the way, he added, before tweeting post-race that special guests should “learn some manners and respect on our patch” when attending Formula 1 events. He added that he “felt under pressure on the grid before but by people called Senna, Prost, Schumacher, Mansell, Piquet and so on. Bodyguards visiting the grid for the first time don’t bother me.”
Brundle has worked for Sky since the broadcaster put Formula 1 behind its paywall in 2012, and told the broadcaster’s F1 channel: “I like to call out some of the celebs that I think are just using the grid a little bit if I’m honest. They don’t really have a passion. I know there are millions of fans at home going ‘I should be on that grid. I’m a massive Formula 1 fan, not them’.”
“But my claim to fame at last. I get ignored by Megan Thee Stallion, I get biffed out of the way by a man mountain and then told off by a Malfoy lookalike who doubtless was on his first-ever time to a Formula 1 grid. I put out a simple tweet about it and got five million impressions. I don’t understand any of that, to be honest.”
Brundle, who started 158 F1 races and took nine podiums without winning between 1984 and 1996, added that he never watches his grid walks back and feels like a different person when conducting them.
“My grid walk is some alter ego I don’t recognise, it’s why I don’t watch them,” Brundle explained. “[It’s] some person that gets cheeky and you’ve got nine or 10 minutes live, unrehearsed, unscripted television. You’ve got to go for it.”
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