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Brundle relishing his new 'leading man' challenge

It looks like a building site at the moment  but when the work is finished Snetterton will be 'an exceptional motor-racing circuit' according to owner Jonathan Palmer.

It looks like a building site at the moment  but when the work is finished Snetterton will be 'an exceptional motor-racing circuit' according to owner Jonathan Palmer.

Archant

Former Norfolk driver Martin Brundle is confident he will make a seamless transition as the BBC's lead Formula One commentator from next season.

Having built an impressive reputation as a journalist, pundit and co-commentator for F1’s coverage across Britain, it was confirmed on Tuesday Brundle will replace Jonathan Legard from this season.

And the 51-year-old is looking forward to moving from expert analysis to filling in the colour.

“I’ve read that I’m more used to doing the expert witness role, but I’ve done a lot of colour commentary and things have happened when I happen to be in charge of the mic, and I can call the shots and do the shouty bits when I have to,” said Brundle.

“I’m a broadcaster now. This is my 15th year...it’s what I do now and I’ve commentated on a lot more GP than I started as a driver.

“I’ve stood and watched people do that lead job for 14 years, and the greatest of all maestros, Murray Walker. I stood and watched him for five or six years, and I haven’t not learned a thing or two in that time.”

Brundle aims to continue doing his popular pre-race grid walks – the closest he gets to being his “crash helmet-wearing alter ego” since retirement – where logistics at each circuit allow, while ex-F1 driver David Coulthard will be Brundle’s right-hand man in the commentary box.

The BBC’s Formula One “Norfolk Mafia” also includes Norwich’s Jake Humphrey, who presents every show.

King’s Lynn’s Brundle was closer to home yesterday, when he arrived with long-time friend and Snetterton circuit owner Jonathan Palmer by helicopter to see at first hand the work going into the £3.5m track redevelopment ahead of the 2011 season – coincidentally Snetterton’s 60th anniversary.

Snetterton is where Brundle’s passion for racing started, and following Palmer’s competition to rename the 13 corners on the circuit, will now see a corner named after the BBC man – something he admitted to being “delighted but a bit miffed” by.

It is still to be decided which corner Brundle’s name will be given to, in the end he is just glad the circuit that played such a key role in his career being given a new lease of life.

“It either needed to be switched off or developed, and Jonathan inevitably has gone for the development route – which is great news,” said Brundle.

“The new layout will definitely deliver. There are some really tough corners in the mid-section that will keep the drivers on their toes. I’ve been round a lot of race tracks now, I’m 51 and I started when I was 12, and you can see instantly when a corner is going to challenge you – even if it is in a 4x4 doing 10mph.

“I think the car and the bike riders are going to love it, but most importantly the fans – there are going to be some viewing points where you won’t know where to look next for the action, because it will be all around you.

“Every great driver in the last 60 years will have driven around this race track. They all know Snetterton. I had some legendary fights here with Ayrton Senna back in 1983 in Formula Three. All the truly great drivers have been to this circuit, they understand it, they’ve crashed at Corum, been off through the cabbages at Riches.

“Snetterton needs to be a destination. If a place has got a positive vibe, it’s just incredible what grows up around that, and East Anglia just doesn’t want to be throwing away that position lightly because someone else will grab it.”

Palmer held a competition to help name all the corners on the new circuit last year, and he confirmed the final names will be taken and announced over the coming weeks.

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