Martin Brundle remembers the time when Formula One was a lot different than it is today. “Back when I started racing in the 1980s, you had to fight to keep the car on the track,” Michael Schumacher's former teammate at Benetton told HT.
“We had manual gearboxes, a clutch pedal, and no power steering until the early 1990s." Brundle admits that while drivers don't have to be as physical while driving the car as in his days, they have their own challenges to deal with.
“Well, with the speeds that the cars carry through the corners, drivers take a lot of punishment due to the g-forces," said Brundle. "So, there's definitely a physical challenge but also a mental challenge as well with all the various buttons on the steering wheel that changes the mechanical characteristics of the track." Not to mention adjusting things like brake bias, talking to the team on the radio, working the Kinetic Energy Recovery System (KERS) and the Drag Reduction System (DRS).
Brundle has an interesting way of looking at the evolution of an F1 driver to the present day. "I see my daughter typing messages on her phone without even looking with predictive texting and my son on his playstation, and I think about what F1 drivers have to deal with nowadays,” said Brundle.
“The current generation is much more in tune with technology and multitasking," he said. “Add to that the physical demands of driving an F1 car and the skill required and you've got an F1 driver.”
However, the current generation of F1 fans would be less aware of the fact that Brundle was Michael Schumacher's teammate when the seven-time champion won his first race in 1992 as well as two-time world champion Mika Hakkinen's teammate in 1994. Brundle, who scored nine podium finishes in his 98-race career, is now a commentator with BBC Sport. "The media coverage back when I started in the 1980s, and even in the 1990s, was pretty small," said Brundle. "Now, it seems like F1 is everywhere and especially in India, everyone seems to want to grab it with both hands!"