EP 001 / 12.01.2022
THE GOLDEN YEARS
OF FORMULA 1
Mark Blundell 00:00
Leadership is something that you do learn as a racing driver at those levels because it's not just about racing a car it's about being a politician a motivator. It's about being you know, the almost like your own finance director because you're weighing up all the the fiscal elements going into the pot. And you got to be able to communicate, you're going to make sure that you can, you know, take your team along with you and direct them and drive them forward.
Farah Nanji 00:25
You're listening to the Mission Makers show, a podcast that inspires humans to get into the mindset of success. My name is Farah Nanji, and I'm the founder of a business in the motorsports industry that explores leadership lessons from things like Formula One. I'm also a DJ and music producer in the underground electronic scene, and a public speaker on key topics like resilience, building high performance teams, overcoming learning difficulties, and stimulating creativity. And to tie it all together, I love writing thought provoking content as a journalist with these industries, which is so unique in themselves. On this show, I'm sitting down with some of the most inspiring and driven people I've met around the world to talk about their processes, their failures, the lessons they've learned, and how they're truly making an impact for this world. So, guys, it's the first episode of season three and we are back with a bang. We're opening today's show with a former British Formula One driver Mark Blundell. Marks had a fantastic career in the sport competing at a time, many reminisce back to the golden era of motorsport. At the height of his career, he drove from McLaren, uncounted, Mika Hakkinen And Ayrton Senna as his teammates. We talk about what it takes to become a Formula One driver and so much more on today's show. So just before we begin, if you're interested in watching the video version of this podcast, head over to YouTube and type in Mark Blundell, Mission makers to see the show. And if you're interested in some really cool rewards like DJ lessons the chance to ask our guests questions and bespoke merchandise, head over to wwe.patreon.com/missionmakers to check out how you can access these exclusive rewards. And thank you to everyone who subscribed and has been rating and reviewing our show. It truly makes a difference in getting the show discovered. If you haven't already, go ahead and hit that subscribe button and help take mission makers to the next level this season. Mark, thank you so much, too, for joining us today. We're so excited to have you here as one of our guests on mission makers. How're you doing today?
Mark Blundell 02:31
I'm doing well. Thank you. It's not raining. So that's a bonus. And so far so good during the day, no, no major dramas, which when you're in my car business, there's always a drama.
Farah Nanji 02:43
Yeah, fair enough. It's been a summer of rain here in the UK. So it's nice to finally see some sunshine, isn't it? So great. So you know, you manifested a dream that many children have to be a Formula One driver. And I know that your late father owned a car dealership. So would you mind telling us a little bit about what your childhood was? Do you think it was inevitable that you'd somehow be involved with cars or with motion?
Mark Blundell 03:09
I think it was probably inevitable that I would have been involved with cars in some way. But not in a million years, would it have been destined that I was going to be an f1 driver or racing driver per se? My family had no understanding and no connection with motorsport in general. You're quite right. My dad was basically a second hand car dealer. By profession, he was a panel beater and sprayer. So he started off his career by buying his first car, doing it up selling for a profit and growing his business from there. So as a young boy, I was surrounded by cars. And at the age of eight years old, I was learning to drive a car sitting on a cushion, reaching for the pedals. I think by nine years old, I was crashing cars. So it was all going in the right direction. But yeah, never ever felt that there was a end of a journey with me looking back on a career in international motorsport. So most of it when it came across, as developing and becoming real was always a bonus.
Farah Nanji 04:15
Did you have any idols in the sport back then?
Mark Blundell 04:18
So from that perspective, my idol would have been a guy called Ronnie Peterson. Swedish Formula One driver who you'd be way too young, but lots of people would remember like the JPS lotus, The Black and Gold lotuses that were synonymous with that era. So as a kid, you know, really pizza was like my idol as a driver. If we then went on further then it would be looking towards Ironton centre. And when I started motor racing in 1984 Senna just started Formula One. So for me to then be sitting alongside him, whether that was working alongside him or racing alongside him, or standing alongside him on the podium. was a big thing.
Farah Nanji 05:01
Yeah, that's definitely a huge thing. And something we're definitely going to touch upon later. So for our second question, we actually love to go quite deep into the meaning behind our guests name. So we did a bit of research. And we found out that your name mark is believed to have its roots from Mars. And it's known as the Roman god of war. So do you think this is reflective of your driving personality throughout your career?
Mark Blundell 05:25
Well, I think that's probably quite apt. Yeah, I think if you if you talk to many guys around me, they'll probably say that I was quite a tough driver on circuit didn't really give up anything, I'd certainly go off the road and come out the corner, behind the guys. So yeah, I'd be a little bit of a warrior in that respect. And I would also probably say, Yeah, during my career, it's never been one that's been mapped out to be an easy climb. So it's always been a fight and had to go, you know, to for now to try and sort of claw my way through it. But we got there. So I've learned something today, I didn't know that Mark actually came from Mars, for example.
Farah Nanji 06:02
Oh, really? Well, that's interesting. This question always gets people because some people don't go go that deep into their, their meaning and sometimes it actually has, what we found is it has quite a subconscious role. Sometimes, you may not realise them, all of it. But then then somehow, it's kind of it's sort of taken that shape in your in your, in your way, as you say, warrior mindset, which is awesome. So thanks for sharing that with us. Now moving into your career in motor in motorsport, so you started in motocross at the age of 14. And then after much success on two wheels, you made the transition over to four wheels, and you climb the ranks quite quickly, starting with Formula Ford, then formula 3000, Formula Three, and then catapulting into f1. So what was the feeling like of getting to Formula One and driving that car for the first time? Do you still remember that moment?
Mark Blundell 06:53
Well, I guess if you look back on my career, in those days, I had a pretty meteoric rise, because I started racing, you know, period, 1984, and formula for 1600, where many of my peers were in karting, and been doing it for many years. And so youngsters. So from 84, on entry to motorsport, and by 1989, I was already testing and Formula One car, so a real quick transition, especially back in those days. I mean, just to get to the point of driving an f1 car, yes, it's the pinnacle, it really is something quite unique and quite different to anything else, you drive in any level of motorsport to a certain extent. And I think, you know, for me, even though my first time was on an airfield, just doing straight line testing, it was still an experience and experience to not so much the power because you know, the similarities were there with all the big stuff I've driven before, but more the stopping power and the actual distribution of input for me as a driver into the steering and what was coming back to me and I could feel so much. So for every input, there was an output, which, you know, just took you to the understanding of how these things were built and the margins that they they operate it.
Farah Nanji 08:14
Definitely have you had the chance to drive any modern Formula One cars.
Mark Blundell 08:19
No, no, no, no, I mean, for a start. My waistline wouldn't allow me to get into the cockpit of modern day Formula One car. I think the last time I drove an f1 car was filming for ITV. f1 back in 1997. Maybe Was it something like that? So with my buddy brondell Yeah, so I haven't driven anything like that and anger for many, many years. Other stuff yet, but not not an f1 car. Not that easy to do anymore. Because 99% of the time, you need a group of guys who turn on the engine with a laptop. So you know, it's, it's not an easy process.
Farah Nanji 08:52
Yeah, for sure. So you did secure three podiums in you know in what was unarguably the golden era of motorsport and perhaps even driving that Formula One cars back then were more exciting, to be honest. But you are racing with some of the highest calibre of drivers, as you mentioned, Ayrton Senna. We had Michael Schumacher, Mika Hakkinen, and so many more so which opponent did you maybe respect the most in your time on the griddle us most surprised by?
Mark Blundell 09:17
Well, I think firstly, I respected all the drivers I think any driver that gets the level as earned their respect to be there and, you know, as a as a competitor, you have to respect your competitors that are alongside you. But at the same time doesn't mean to say that you like them. You know, because there's always going to be differences and sometimes that spills over onto the track. Sometimes it spills over off the track. So I think you know, for me, your teammates is always your hardest battle because they're in the same machinery and that's what you get measured by and I had some strong teammates during my career. Mika was very tough. As a good buddy Martin Brundle was always a tough character. But you know, at the same time, I think, even from that perspective, you know, there was no love lost between your teammates. Yeah, you respected each other. But you make sure that you're driving off the circuit in a heartbeat if you could, if it was going to get you another position on the track. So that was what it was all about Doggy Dog. Because back then, as well, we didn't really have so much in the way of social media and the sort of outward collaboration. A lot of it was a little bit more intense in terms of friendships. And there were a lot of deeper friendships that around the paddock, but at the same time, as I say, they were all based with foundations understanding that everybody took a risk getting into the car, and everybody took the risk of not seeing them at the end of a Grand Prix. So we you know, we were fully tuned into understanding what those were all about.
Farah Nanji 10:48
Yeah, I mean, as you say, you're ultimately measured against your teammates. So with any sort of mental or psychological strategies that you might be able to share with us that your teammates like Ayrton or Mika used to kind of compete against you.
Mark Blundell 11:04
I think I think in the earlier period, when I was say, for example, test driver at McLaren Senna was very focused and very aware of letting everybody know that he was a top dog inside the team. So I know, we were testing Imola, for example. And I was in the active ride suspension car. And I basically matched a lap time as the passive suspension car by centre on the day. And back then it was quite a big achievement because the active car was in development, and they weren't fully expecting it to be running the same level of pace. You know, and he was a little bit miffed by that. And he was sort of looking around at the data and trying to understand where it was, and that kind of thing. But I was supposed to be getting a lift back to the airport by one of the McLaren personnel. And in front of everybody in the drivers debrief, I just basically sort of froze the room over and said, No, you know, the guys staying here, he used to be functioning with us as a team, and you need to make your own way back. And he, you know, you have to take on board that that was that and calling the shots. It wasn't a team manager, it wasn't a team principal, it was him, making sure that he got what he wanted, because he wanted to make sure that I was put back in my box. And out of, you know, many hours of thinking about it in some way. It was a sort of backhanded compliment, because it was a little bit of like, okay, there's a recognition of, you've done a good job today. And the other point, it was also about just making sure that you're the test and reserved guy and make sure you know, your place.
Farah Nanji 12:30
How did that make you feel?
Mark Blundell 12:34
To be honest, I mean, racing, that level is pretty cutthroat. So, you know, is what it is, I didn't really expect anything different. I mean, it's up to him. If it makes him feel better back then it didn't get me a lift to the airport. And but you know, there's an I, I have the utmost of respect for Senna in terms of what he achieved and the the genius behind the wheel and is a huge lost, it is not with us any longer. So, you know, I can only take all the positives and the good memories out of many things that went on back in those days. But it's psychology is a huge thing in sport in general and psychology and motorsport is is there just as much. Just because you put the helmet over your head doesn't mean to say that you haven't got inside somebody's head, across the side of the garage or elsewhere. So yeah, there's a lot of that that goes on. And having sort of that level of command inside a team is, is always going to get you, you know, the upper hand. And if you can always show outwardly that you're leading a team, and it's working for you. I think your teammates always going to be on his back foot trying to catch up.
Farah Nanji 13:39
Yeah, no, absolutely. And talking about positive memories, what was your best memory of Ayrton?
Mark Blundell 13:47
I don't know, I think there's so many of them. You know, having worked alongside him as test and reserve driver in 92, at McLaren, but then I've been raced against them. You know, that's in good battles. But at the same time, you know, I think I think in many ways, just just as an individual, we there was something quite special about the guy, you know, he walked into Rumia presence. And even from the first day where, you know, signing up as a test and reserve at McLaren. I was testing at Silverstone and centre rolled up about mid morning, you know, 11 ish, was on announced, wasn't supposed to be there. But he basically came to listen in to what was being said on the radio between me and the engineers, because he wanted to give you sort of a seal of approval, because he understood that it was important on what was going on with the development work and making sure that whoever was plugged into that car was given them the right direction and the same sort of feeling as him. So it was an interesting, you know, understanding of what level he would go to to get what he required for the season ahead. I think fortunately, I got the seal of approval, which was okay. And actually, in many ways, it was good because my style and his style were very similar in the way that we set up a car. So in terms of like application, or FrostWire, would drive the car in the same way that what he did. And we kind of had the rear of the car settle down and use the car and understeer from mid to exit, whereas our team mate for that. And that year, gatehub burger was very different. And he started driving and very different in the way he set car up. So I probably favoured the IAT. And in terms of the way I headed with the car and development, much more than Gerhold Hello, get out probably doesn't know that until today.
Farah Nanji 15:40
Fair enough. Fair enough. Thank you for sharing that with us. Now, I know that you spoken at length about your crash in Rio in 96. And for those unfamiliar with the incident, Mark hit a wall at 190 miles an hour and you just wasted a massive 122 G's on impact, which is hard to you know, even understand what that could even feel like. And sometimes the mental recovery is much tougher than the physical recovery. And I know that the sound of concrete is something that you've said still haunts you today. So I wondered if you could go a little deeper into that and perhaps share if there were any techniques that you use to train for, to get back into such a high pressurised environment? And like how you could compartmentalise like any fears you might have? Or if you had a need to get back in the car after such an incident?
Mark Blundell 16:26
I think that's an interesting question. But I, if I'm brutally honest, I've never really been one to use any techniques, or, you know, I see modern day drivers visualising I see modern day drivers, you know, using sports scientists, we manage drivers that use some of those channels to improve the performance. So I've got nothing against it, it just I'm probably the last of the old school. And you know, in many ways, it was like, right, you know, I got away from that accident, fortunately, still here to tell the town. But the recovery period was very short, way too short, compared to what it should have been. But I had to get back in because otherwise my drive was in doubt, I was going to lose my seat. So there's all of these external pressures that are on you. And you have to factor in, you know, I was a father and a husband and a family man. So I needed to generate revenue for my family. So I went back to my car to race after the accident. But the first time I got back in it was actually a circuit called Michigan. And Michigan is a two mile super speedway with top speeds about 240 miles an hour, and cornering speeds are 225. And they're pretty daunting places. And I'd never ever been on a super speedway in my life, until I got back in a race car after that crash. So my first rollout, when I ran around about 170 580 miles an hour average. And I came in and said, like, there's something wrong with a car. And the guys looked at me and you know, almost burst out laughing and said, Well, you know, until you get over 200 miles an hour, this car won't function, because it's designed to be doing higher speeds. And at that point, I said, Listen, you need to give me some time. So I basically drove away in my rental car, left the circuit on the test day, was gone for over an hour. And really had to sort of talk to myself, you know, basically go over, is this something that I want to continue doing? Do I want to put myself through it? Do I want to put my family for it, my friends? Are the risks worth the reward? Do I enjoy it? How do I feel after my body going through such a severe impact and all the emotions that came with it? Because there were times when I sat there at the dinner table and just burst out crying because my body was in a mess. Emotionally, there was things going on that I didn't quite understand when your body has an impact like that, you know, things things happen. But it was really a case of that there wasn't really a technique. There wasn't anything other than saying to myself, yes, the passion still there, the desire is still there. The hunger, and the determination, and the enjoyment. I still want you to be a professional racing driver. And that's what basically took me back in the rental car back to the circuit. I'm still in my race suits to let my race boots on. And I said to the guys is that that's it. I said now I've cleared myself up is this at the back of my mind. Let me get back in the car and then we get to work. And from that point on, I never really felt more about it. I mean, it was just part and parcel of the career chapter in the book and we closed it and we moved on.
Farah Nanji 19:45
Yeah, definitely that's that warrior mindset we were talking about earlier. Did it like affect your relationship with sound in any way? I know that sounds weird, but because you you talked heavily about not forgetting that sound that impact.
Mark Blundell 19:57
Well, I never got knocked out so I was conscious for that. To them, and the sound is something that stays with me all the time because it is, it's so severe. You know, I didn't hit a tire wall, there were no tires there. I never envisioned an accident would happen there. So it was that impact into concrete. And I don't know. I mean, it hasn't affected me with sound. I mean, I'm also a huge lover of music. So nice. You know, I'm kind of still grateful that I can hear that, although I'd probably say like most racing drivers, especially my generation, and before me, we're all a little bit tone deaf, you know, listening to a V 12 engine in your back, back to the garage and your ears getting, you know, opened up to that doesn't do it any good. So hearing is definitely down on what it was, but nothing that really sticks with me other than now, and again, I'm sort of flashback and go for it. But I think what you said earlier, you put things in compartments. And I think racing drives are very good at doing that. They're able to put things away when they need them. And they can bring them out when they need them. But at the same time, they're able to process information and do it on different levels. And I think that's the difference in many ways. Between when you see a professional race driver operate compared to some other levels of sport, even at the highest levels. There's a huge amount of processing that's going on all the time. Yeah,
Farah Nanji 21:19
absolutely. I couldn't agree with you more. Now. You did just sort of touch upon it there. So I do have to ask you, the music, what kind of what's your what kind of music do you listen to?
Mark Blundell 21:30
Wow, you're going to ask me that. Okay. If you went back on YouTube, you'll probably find my VHS and no VH one was it I think back then VH one top 10 hits. So I remember do like the video disc jockey stuff picking my own music for that channel back then. Alongside MTV. It's so varied. I mean, at the minute I listened to a lot of stuff like 07 Old School Jamiroquai. And and I'm like Grover, Washington, Jr. Mays. Spyro Gyra. So quite a bit of stuff. That's probably a little bit left field for some people. But I like lots of music. I'm not that big into classical, not that big into heavy rock. I can just about stomach, Country and Western. But there you go.
Farah Nanji 22:20
Nice. Nice. A bit of feel good music. Very cool. So you have worn many hats in Formula One, from driver to commentator to manager? Is there one role that maybe stood out above the others in regards to its level of difficulty?
Mark Blundell 22:37
I mean, there's I don't, you know, television for me wasn't easy. I'm not the most eloquent guy in the world and don't have sort of any formal education or left school with no exams whatsoever. So vocabulary wise, I was always going to be a bit of slim pickings. I'm a little bit layman's terms, and what I do to explain things, so I'm probably more relative to the guy in the black cab conversation rather than being you know, speaking at a university. So the TV doing light television was always going to be a tough one for me, but I did it for sort of just under eight years. But I found it quite difficult because it wasn't first passion. It wasn't something I was trained in. I was saying that I've never really been trained in anything I've done. So yeah, probably the toughest role and I didn't sort of naturally sort of go with it. I mean, Martin Brundle for me is, you know, Marty's probably had as big a career in television as what he did in f1. And he's superb. And he's excellent at describing things and getting it across so that everybody can understand and also making sense. And, you know, I probably fall into the Murray Walker book of making mistakes sometimes sometimes, but I'm dyslexic. So that's another thing that you deal with, you know, dyslexia, you look at things and you think about things, and sometimes they don't come out of your mouth, as you would expect them
Farah Nanji 23:59
are super interesting. I'm dyspraxia, which is kind of the opposite. It's more motor coordination. So that is part of the reason why I knew that it would be possible to be on the higher end of competition. But you know, I've also spent a lot of time just going head on into it so that you can kind of, as you say, like, if you've, if you put yourself in that in that situation, then you're going to get that you're going to do it. And I'm sure that social media probably probably also had an impact and just is super tough being under that sort of global scrutiny as well. You know, on that on that perspective, and particularly, I can imagine when you were doing it the way that media has exploded in the last sort of decade and two decades has been quite crazy. Hey, you, we hope you're enjoying today's episode. We're on a serious mission here to create one of the world's best podcast series, and we'd be so grateful if you could support us in any way by becoming a patron of the show. There's a tier to every level from earlybird tiers where you get downloads to all my music with some super cool ninja stickers, too. our VIP mission make it here's where you get Epic Rewards like exclusive footage that never gets add the chance to submit questions to our guests with signed copies of books from them, DJ lessons, one to one coaching and a whole load of super cool ninja measure making merchandise, you can start supporting us for less than what it costs you to fill up your car for a month by simply heading over to wwe.patreon.com forward slash mission makers. Thanks for listening, and I hope you enjoy the rest of the show. I did work quite closely with Frank Williams and Ron Dennis. And so what would you say? What were some of the things you learned about like leadership from from those guys? Because they are quite well, quite well respected in that regard for that? Yeah, I
Mark Blundell 25:42
mean, it's an I think. So Frank was it was a tough character. And as directors they come, but you always knew where you stood. And that was, for me, always. A plus. Ron is a very complex individual. Visionary cannot have anything but respect for the vision and what he's achieved. But in some areas, I would also say that I disagreed with the way that he handled some things because for example, with me, he felt that I would perform better under a race by race contract example, in 1995. And I disagreed with that completely, because I said, Look, you need to, you need to show me the commitment and show the team that you're committed to me. And at the same time, give me some stability that I need that I'm understanding of me and my family are looked after, and I go out and do the best job I can. Your feeling of saying that I perform better under pressure of every Grand Prix being an independent one doesn't rub. So, you know, there are definitely areas I didn't actually feel were beneficial to me as a as an f1 driver for career advancement. But at the same time, I can't argue with what bronze achieved, and I can't argue what's the Franks achieved, because, you know, they've been pretty inspirational and iconic people in our industry, and many things that you learn, you know, Ron, without a doubt attention to detail, I still don't see anybody with the same level of attention to detail in the sport, then then himself. And it's normally to detail that lets you down and I think you know, that's something that people should consider. I think also, you know, little things that you pick up, for example, you know, he, he told me one day about if you're going to generate a contract, even though it may cost you a bit more in the first place, nine times out of 10 is better that you generate it. Because normally, when you generate the contract, you have the upper hand in negotiations. And I have to say, 90% of the time, that's probably been pretty true in whatever I've done in business these days. So there's all those little nuggets of information that you pick up on on the journey. And leadership is something that you do learn as a racing driver at those levels. Because it's not just about racing a car, it's about being a politician, a motivator, it's about being you know, the almost like your own finance director, because you're weighing up all the the fiscal elements going into the pot. And you got to be able to communicate, you're gonna make sure that you can, you know, take your team along with you and direct them and drive them forward.
Farah Nanji 28:22
Absolutely. And especially at such a young age as well, that's also something that is, is quite interesting to sort of to see, when you said about detail. And people sometimes losing it to that do you mean, if they're going too much into detail, or they're not paying attention to the detail,
Mark Blundell 28:39
not paying attention to it, because I think, you know, it's the detail 99% of the time that if it's not there, then there's big chances that it will go wrong. If you've pretty much considered all of the issues, then hopefully, the risk element will, will be pretty low. So, you know, it's something that we kind of, even though in our little small agency, I'm pretty much a stickler for detail, I want to make sure that we've got everything nailed down. And if there's a whole, you know, there's a void in the programme, and why, why is it there? Let's make sure that we've got a solution. And we've got a backup plan, and we've got something there that we can go run with. And I think also for me, it's about and I tell my guys, I've only got a small team, but I'm forever saying Never assume anything. You know, on that basis, you will find that you can't go far wrong. And if you need to come and ask them and ask but don't be ashamed about asking. Doesn't mean to say that you're not capable getting done what we need to achieve, just making sure that you're doing what needs to be achieved.
Farah Nanji 29:45
Yeah, no, absolutely. And talking about about the sports management company. It's I read it that part of the reason and the desire to start that company and be partners was because of the lack of guidance that you received in your career. So why was it so difficult? back then to get a decent manager, given the level that you'd you'd reached?
Mark Blundell 30:05
Well, I think there was a few things, then I mean, you know, listen, I was approached by IMG on a couple of occasions to join them. They were pretty much the leaders and follow on the likes of centre and Prost and some really big names, but I could never get my head round that I was going to be one of seven at that time on the grid. So, you know, where would I be in the pecking order I'd be last to join. So I'd be number seven. And pretty much I'd probably only be, you know, seventh in consideration for anything that was going along. So there was that area of concern, looking back. In hindsight, maybe it was a bad decision, maybe I should have gone with them. And they could have done something more for me in saying that, it's always difficult to get somebody to represent you in a way that you want to be represented. And I think it's also difficult to get somebody to understand how you tick. I think for us, that's been quite important that, because I've done what I do now, and I understand what it takes, I still think like a racing driver. And I think that's helpful in us looking after other racing drivers. You know, there's always a time and a place when to leave them alone winter, bugden when to get on the case. You know, okay, you know, for me, we manage our drivers, but they're also an asset. In a triangulation, you know, there's this asset management, there's the, the contractual party of the manufacturer, for example. And then there's our drivers. And at times, you need to be the one who's like wielding the stick. And then at times, you need to be the one who's like calming everything down. And at times, it's coming from the team to say, Look, can you have a word of your guy because we need him to step up to the plate, you know, okay, never work for your gal, because we need her to improve or it's an ongoing situation. And it's something that if you've had that understanding of the sport, and you've got the inside knowledge of it, you can relate to it so much easier. But I think also you can get the respect back from the people that you're managing as well, because they fully understand, you know, that you've been inside, you've done what they've done, if not done more than them at the moment, and I'm hoping that they will out perform what I've ever done on the track. And definitely, with my guy, Mike Conway, at the moment, he's catching me up rapidly. But you know, that's, that's, that's the situation is helpful in many ways.
Farah Nanji 32:25
Yeah, definitely. I actually, my next question to you is that I'm sure you must be really proud right now. Because Mike Conway and his team just won the limb on 24 hours, and he was somebody that you manage for more than 15 years. Right. So you must be feeling pretty good.
Mark Blundell 32:39
Yeah, I mean, listen, in that respect has been fantastic, because, you know, manage Mike actually now in our 16, nearly at the end of our 16th year together, and also Gary paffett, as well. So, you know, the two guys that have been with me for a very long time. And we have an incredibly close relationship between all of us, actually, in that respect, but there's a lot of trust, there's a lot of loyalty, there's a lot of transparency, because, you know, that's what's been built off of the foundations of our working relationships, but also I'm understanding from that is a friendship, you know, and from that friendship, as well as a huge amount of respect and admiration. So, for Mike to be current world champion in work, leading the world championship at the moment still, and just wrapping up the 24 hours a month. Is is incredible. For me, I've you know, I'm a very small part of it. But I'm really proud. And at the same time for Gary, to have had an incredible career inside a racecar, and still has that capability. But switching careers slightly and now being in the role of like a sporting director at Mercedes Benz former eating and then winning the FIA World Championship, and him being a contributing factor with many of the other people there. Again, it's very, very proud moment, because, you know, I know the guys inside out and I know what they're capable of. And both of them are got huge things ahead of them. Not just on track, but off track as well.
Farah Nanji 34:08
Absolutely. Well, you know, hats off to you for that. And another another two drivers that you're working with our two rising female stars emerged was esame Hawkins and Tali Martin. So what's that process been like? And do you have any opinions on why, you know, females haven't quite yet had their fair chance in motorsport? Do you have any messages to the people that don't believe women will get that chance in Formula One?
Mark Blundell 34:33
Well, I you know, again, it's an interesting point. I mean, there's been females in motorsport, you know, way back way back in the day. I can remember the Italian girl Jeevan or Marty, who was in a, in an f1 car back when I was doing it in 91. I think it was Brabham. So you know, it's not new. And I would say actually, even today, it's probably one of the best opportunities for a female driver to be you know ultra competitive in a car now because I think some of the some of the, the tough elements of it back then was the pure physical aspect. Just because back then was no power steering. The the actual physical aspect of you know, the the female frame, just just not quite strong enough to get the job done inside the cockpit of the f1 car to the same levels as what the male guy could do. I think now that's changed, I think now the cars are to a point, you know, equalised out, because you've got power steering, you've got a little bit of an easier situation to, you know, not have such physical capacity required. And even if you look at the shape of a modern day formula, one driver these days, they're very different to but way back in my day, you know, they're more like jockeys now, because they don't need that muscular frame as much. So I think it's a great opportunity for females, I think female drivers have got a huge amount to offer. You know, I'm, I was managing a female driver, Maria de velata, unfortunately, passed away at a testing accident in a Formula One car, and Maria was destined for great things. And, you know, I'm passionate about it, I'm passionate to see we've got Azmi horkey. She's a DCM, she did a fantastic job. We've got Charlie Martin, who's transgender driver, but Charlie is again doing a wonderful job. And I think, you know, destined for bigger things. And as May for me is, you know, I would say she's up there in the top female drivers in the world, because her level of progress has been, you know, pretty outstanding. She's done hardly any testing in a DTM car. And she's within a second have some big names, you know, some Formula One guys have just been on the grid last year. And by right, so should be, you know, way ahead of the curve in comparison, and as May is actually pulling them in pretty quickly. So, you know, I think there's big things ahead for females in the sport. I'm not totally convinced it not competing against the male counterparts is, is the, the right way at the end, because I think there's many of them. I know, for example, as me and Charlie are very happy to go up against the guys. And I think that's, that's something that is key for him. And I think there's, there's great things ahead. There's lots of females out there. And I think there's lots of young females coming through as well that are going to be talking. Well, we'll be talking about hopefully the next five to 10 years.
Farah Nanji 37:36
Absolutely. And talking about the diversity aspects. I'm sure you've seen Lewis's recent Hamilton commissioned report. And, you know, horrifying statistics that show less than 1% of employees in f1 are from African backgrounds. So what do you think some of the keys are for the sport itself to kind of equalise the playing field, not just from drivers, but from, you know, all different areas of the sport itself.
Mark Blundell 38:01
But I, you know, for me, at the end of the day, I think the jobs are out there. And if the job is done by somebody who's of a different background, a different colour, as long as the job's done properly, I think that's the way it should be viewed. And I don't think it should be any way of viewing it, you know, I think that should be the only way it should be viewed. You know, so, you know, we'll see interesting point, we manage Yan Martinborough. And Yan is a fantastic guy. And, and we have conversations in this sector. And it's, you know, I, I'm at a stage now, where I'm hoping that what Lewis is doing is really going to have an impact, you know, I hope we're going to see a direct result in the not too distant future. And I hope that not just for one, one, I hope the world of motorsport in general is really going to pick up on it and I do sense that it's happening, I do sense that it's all going in the right direction. But for me, there's, you know, the job is the job, doesn't matter anything other than who can do the job the best. And if you're capable of doing it, come and do the job come and come and make us perform to the best of our capabilities. And this go and win together and succeed.
Farah Nanji 39:18
Definitely, I agree that it should always be the best person for the job. But at the same time to have such a low low sort of representation is also it's also quite bizarre and sort of lays great that like people like Louis are championing that fight and not giving up and as you say, hopefully creating that influence and buzz to actually make that impact and raising awareness to it because I think also, probably there hasn't been too much awareness around it either as well like from, you know, people who are not entirely within the sport. So you mentioned fitness earlier and having to be quite fit back in the day to withstand some of those. Geez. So I'm curious to know if the level of training and fitness that you had to do back then, to be a foreman Don't driver has it paid any dividends in your life now
Mark Blundell 40:06
that's a good one. It probably has, I'm still walking around when I shouldn't be, because I think we're you're fit, you recover better, and you've got more chance of recovering from some of the incidents that have occurred. In saying that, you know, hand on heart, I don't do that much exercise these days. I'm too busy, you know, having business lunches and probably increasing my waistline, which is, is not what you really want to hear. But that's just the way the world and that's the way that I do my business these days, you know, so things is trying to change slightly in saying that, I did get back in shape a couple of years ago to go and do something Victorian cars. And, you know, it took quite a lot of effort, especially when you get older, it's difficult to drop weight off. Yeah, I felt good. But at the same time, you know, I love my food, and I love a glass of wine. So I'm not going to give it all up. So listen, I've got huge admiration for all of our girls. And guys, on that side, I mean, the incredibly fit. I think the dynamics of the sport of changing the level of fitness and what they require, as I said, I don't think they need to be quite as muscular as what they were, I think they're a little bit more along the sort of, you know, triathlete sort of fitness levels and requirements and the frame of what's there. And, you know, when you watch some of the people behind the wheel, and their operating levels of heart rate up in the 170s 180s, average, and it was pretty significant. I mean, they're athletes in their own right, just because they're sitting on their backside for a couple of hours, doesn't mean to say that my athletes
Farah Nanji 41:43
know. Absolutely. And yeah, as you say, you know, you've you've obviously had to sacrifice a lot in that journey towards that career path of being an athlete. So fair enough, if you want to enjoy all the good stuff, you know, later on, why not? So I want to talk about your motto, the will to win. And I know that same was passed down to you from your grandfather. So what's your will to win today? What does that say mean to you? And as a father, how do you communicate that message to your to your own kids as well?
Mark Blundell 42:10
I listen, I think that the will to win is is no different to what it was back then the My granddad would talk to me and say you need the will to win and see exactly that you know what it says on the side of the tin? If there's no will, you know, to go out and do your best and succeed and, you know, get across the line first, and you got to seriously question why you're doing it. And, you know, I say to all the guys and girls that we manage, if you're not enjoying it, there's no point. And if you don't have the will to win, or you don't have the hunger to succeed, you've also got a question while you're doing it. And I think that's, that's something that's quite key. Because if you don't have those sort of determination levels that you're prepared to keep pushing through, and increasing, the chances are, you're not going to quite get to where you want to be heading. And, you know, everything today is pretty much instant, in the way that people look at things. And unfortunately, life isn't instant. It's takes a lot of work and a lot of you know, graft and you have to do your apprenticeship. And yes, now and again, you might find that some people just go into something and it happens in a nanosecond. But most of the time, I better work at it and about to do the their hours of graft and put in their apprenticeship and understand where they're heading. And from that, I think 90% of the time, they're actually more geared up to go and do what they need to do. Because I've experienced so many things on the journey. But you know, that's that's where we're at today. The world is different. It's, you know, we're managing a 13 year old in karting all the way up to our guys, Conway and paffett. And it's a very interesting spectrum when you see and you know, you look at what's going on at that age. And then what you're doing with the guys are up there already. So the space has changed.
Farah Nanji 44:00
Yeah, no, definitely it says I think success is an evolution evolutionary journey. It's not instant, and you do see it, sometimes the rares that kind of appear like they've maybe come out of nowhere, but I think truly behind that is a lot of hard work and years of that sort of training, really. And if there isn't that foundation, then you know, it's also much easier to fail because you haven't got a solid foundation in some ways. But also, I know that you're working with a killer dragon Theo per foetus. So I wonder if you could share a little bit more insight into that journey, what's that been like for you? And then the company as well.
Mark Blundell 44:37
So Fiona Thetis is our chairman as a stakeholder in the business. FeO is one of those guys that, again, is attention to detail is very methodical, very practical. Surprisingly, he knows most things about most things. So there's not much that you Gonna get by him. And, for me, you know, to have him as chairman and chairman of our board is, is an advantage in many ways, because, you know, he has a huge amount of business experience behind him. You know, for 30 years of my life, more or less was spent going around in circles. And now, to a certain extent, you know, I'm learning a new trade, and that's as business and, you know, allow, I've got the basics, there's now again, there's quite nice for me to be able to lean on him and dive into his box of data and pull out some, some little snippets of information. And also at the same time, you know, don't get me wrong, there's times that I'm sitting at a board table, and it'd be giving me a good understanding of what I've been doing isn't right, or where I should be heading. And no two ways about asking me why I'm not heading that direction with a business, you know, so you never stop learning every day's a school day. And, you know, now, and again, somebody has to give you some redirection and plot the navigational plots a bit differently to where you are heading. So that's what he's good at. I mean, he's, he's a great guy. He loves motorsport, which is, you know, brilliant for us. But at the same time, our agency isn't just about motorsport these days, it's growing in many other areas. So, you know, is, is pretty much on top of things.
Farah Nanji 46:21
Absolutely. And talking about the growth and plotting the navigational points, what is the sort of vision that you'd like to sort of manifest over the next year or two with, with the company.
Mark Blundell 46:33
So I think on our side, where more and more getting into the digital world, we're understanding it more, and we're sort of creating quite a lot of different channels for ourselves, not only with our motorsport interest, but outside, and we're supporting people now. You know, on the client facing side, we have a lot of the digital requirements. A lot that's been grown out the pandemic because we had to adapt. At the same time, I think, you know, we will try and strengthen our motorsport offering. We are probably the most diverse motorsport management agency in the world today. And at the same time, I think, we're probably up there in the top three in Europe, in terms of, you know, the calibre of people that we have. Our event side is growing, easy to say when you're coming out the back of a pandemic, unwinding from from having lockdowns, but, you know, we're gearing up to do more and more events. And that's, that's an interesting space for us. And we are very fortunate we have a, an incredible partner programme. So we have something like 25 Blue Chip partners that are with us, and very close network. And then network was born out of supporting our racing drivers, you know, whether it was with accountants, banks, solicitors, and it's grown actually now in more of a b2b. And it's a real sort of key part of our business and an enjoyable part as well. So we're small, but we punch well above our weight. So you know, we've got we've got a nice network, and we've got some, some great people associated with us.
Farah Nanji 48:06
Fantastic. Well, wishing you all the best for the for the roads ahead. And so we're going to move into our audience q&a. We've got two questions that have come in from, from two individuals. The first one is from Rory, who's a budding racing driver from London and he asks how do you go about scouting the best new talent for MB partners?
Mark Blundell 48:27
This is gonna sound a little bit like snobbish in a way but we don't really go out on the scout channel. Yet Yeah, and I how can I put this I'm not I'm not good with the, you know, the running down the touchline chasing the guy who's playing football with a ball at his feet saying, like, you need to be with us. We need to look after you. That doesn't really fit our model. So I'm much prefer that. People come to us understanding they require management and management is much more than, you know, sponsorship acquisition or making sure that your flights booked his career advancement is digging into some huge amount of years of experience and network of contacts, also navigating the drivers future. Yeah. So it needs to be the right fit. And I say that because the Fit needs to be right with both sides, going into it together, eyes wide open and both sides understanding that if they don't both contribute, then there won't be no progress. You know, management is two ways not one sided. There's no magic wand. I wish there was. So we don't say really go scout talent. We were very aware of drivers out there. But we're not really big in tracking them down and saying hey, wouldn't it be good if you're with us? We're more of a case of hey, we're here. If you feel that you've got requirements and We feel that you'd be the right fit for us, then we're happy to sit around a table and take it further. And that's the way that we really do look at things and that's why you see guys like Conway and paffett 16 years Bloomquist nine years. You know, they've been with us a long time.
Farah Nanji 50:14
Definitely. So not a more natural and organic approach. Fantastic. And then Jessica from Florida asked what's the fastest you've driven and in what if you can put a number to it?
Mark Blundell 50:27
Oh is easy. It's a racing car. The fastest I've ever driven is at Fontana Speedway in California in an IndyCar and it was 248 miles an hour. And 227 miles an hour in the corner. Well, I think averaged two miles in 30.1 seconds. Then it would drop down to Lamont and it would be 238 miles an hour with a Molson chicanes. And then if it was in a road car. I just caveat this by saying it'd be on a private road. That it would be I think the quickest I've done in a road car is like 192 miles an hour. In what was in a Pagani Zonda. Yeah. Very nice. And at that point, I think I run out a road or run out of talent, because I didn't really want to go too much quicker on a road car and that speed.
Farah Nanji 51:27
Very cool. Okay, thank you so much. And our final section is basically a quick fire round. So just some really short quick answers on the next few questions. So the first question is what has been the smoothest ride of your life?
Mark Blundell 51:49
That would be back on my my push bike when I was a kid. That was the smoothest ride of my life. No, no dramas, no pressures didn't have to worry about life. Just a my little rally chipper just enjoying myself. But yeah, I don't know. Sleep is rather my life.
Farah Nanji 52:05
No, fair enough. That's a great answer. We'll take that one. We'll take that one. We love it. Number two, if you could pick any song to celebrate a win on the podium, what would it be?
Mark Blundell 52:16
Simply the Best Tina Turner.
Farah Nanji 52:20
Fair, fair play. What something you'd like to do the old fashioned way?
Mark Blundell 52:27
That we'll be having a Sunday roast. Because that's pretty old fashioned these days. So I still stick with tradition. roast potatoes and roast beef. There
Farah Nanji 52:33
you go. Very nice. And lastly, Mark, what are you most grateful for this month?
Mark Blundell 52:41
That's a good question. You know what, I have so many people around me at my age who are suffering or passed away. I'm just grateful that I'm able to even sit here and do this with you. Because God's honest truth, you get to the point where you lose some family and friends. And it really does resonate. And it gives you a focal point. So every day is a bonus. Wake up, enjoy it, make the most of it. And don't look back, look forward.
Farah Nanji 53:11
Absolutely. And seize that day and seize the opportunity as if health is there. Everything else is, you know, is just a bonus. Really?
Mark Blundell 53:20
Yeah, health first. Wealth, second thing,
Farah Nanji 53:23
Mark, thank you so much. It's been an absolute honour and privilege to speak with you today. And thank you so much for sharing all your insights. And yeah, wishing you all the best for MB Partners.
Mark Blundell 53:35
Appreciate it. It's been great talking to you. And best of luck for the rest of the year.
Farah Nanji 53:40
Thank you so much. It's been on my bucket list since I became a journalist to interview a Formula One driver. So I'm extremely honoured to have kicked off season three with this stream today. It's been an absolutely fascinating chat. So thank you again to mark for coming on the show and sharing what it takes to be in the top level of the sport and make a dream happen that so many of us have had. We've got some amazing guests coming on mission makers this season, so be sure to share the show with your friends, and subscribe to us on Apple, Spotify, YouTube and wherever else you listen to your podcasts. You can reach out to me @missionmakers or @dj.n1nja on Instagram. And if you're interested in supporting the show and getting some really cool rewards like DJ lessons and exclusive merchandise, don't forget to visit www.patreon.com/missionmakers. Thank you for listening and until next time, keep it laser focused