For many watchers in the UK (and not only), Brundle’s pre-race grid walk interviews are the stuff of legend. The man works hard, meandering through the thick crowd to pick up famous people, and coming up with stuff to ask them, both about their professional lives and the upcoming event. Since we’re on the topic of distinctions between sports and showbiz, this is where his interviews usually fall: right at the crossroads. As such, they’re appealing to both celebrity pundits, who get to see their favorite stars in a different light, and to Formula One regulars.
His most recent was no exception. Ahead of Sunday’s U.S. Grand Prix, Brundle was on the job when he spotted rapper Megan Thee Stallion and her massive entourage walking around. MTS was not there for the race but as part of a contract with one of her sponsors, so it would have made sense if she had refused or not been able to say whether she was rooting for Hamilton or Verstappen. As luck had it, she never got the chance to, because one of her assistants cut Brundle short, informing him that “you can’t do that.”
You can see Brundle’s bum-rushing MTS in the short video below. He never took issue with the rapper herself, since she seemed inclined to talk to him even though she (probably) had no idea who he was or what he wanted of her. But he did mind the young assistant and his apparent insinuation that he, a veteran on the F1 scene, couldn’t ask questions of attendees of an F1 event, whoever they might be.
As the video went viral, the debate around it heated up. Brundle himself felt obligated to address it on social media, writing that he expected bodyguards to “maybe learn some manners and respect on our patch.” He was ok with the kind of pressure that came from interviewing celebrities, and being put on the spot, he said, but he drew the line at bodyguards: everybody’s got a job to do, and while he’s respectful of theirs, so should they be of his.
It’s a fine point, if you think about it. You can’t just stroll into an F1 event with a 5-person-strong tiny army, and mingle around and expect commentators and interviewers to just remove themselves from your path. MTS, for one, must have guessed it: you play by the rules of whatever playground you’re visiting. Brundle is right, it was the assistant’s fault for refusing to play by the same rules.
Then again, when you’re a veteran F1 commentator, “have you got any rap for us today” feels like a very lame entry question. You don’t ask Hamilton at a movie premiere if he has any burnouts planned for after the event, so the assumption on Brundle’s part that he could do it with a rapper came out awkwardly. You could almost say he asked for it: karma makes sure you get back what you put in, and Brundle’s introductory question was pretty stupid. Respect is a two-way street.
In fewer words, Brundle didn’t read the room on this one. On its own, that brief pre-race interview was just a silly and funny incident that would have gone away once Twitter got bored with it. But Brundle’s comment and demand for respect shows that he wasn’t laughing along with everyone else.
Legend Martin Brundle ???? pic.twitter.com/Y3VCcBqufb— Aadoo Ozzo (@Aadozo) October 24, 2021
I have 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, everyone’s got a job to do, but they could maybe learn some manners and respect on our patch ????— Martin Brundle (@MBrundleF1) October 25, 2021