Interview with former F1 driver Martin Brundle on Richard Mille and the sport
The former racing driver and award winning commentator takes time out to discuss F1, luxury and Richard Mille
Martin Brundle is best known on the track for his duels with Ayrton Senna in the British Formula Three Championship and later on the Formula One track. Whilst he raced for several teams during his Formula One career he is probably best known today for his television work as an F1 commentator.
The Formula One as a whole is undergoing major changes this year with new management and new rules, what do you make of the sport moving forward?
Well, I think time stands still for no man. I hope Bernie is still around a little bit because he has created this as his baby, but it needed to head off in a different direction. There is a lot of competition out there, in the world of sport, media and indeed television. It is a very dynamic business, its changing month by month and year by year so I am pleased that those controlling it now are media people and not financial people. I have said for years, I really hope that the next owners of F1 are a media company that valued the content as well as the bottom line. I think they’ll make mistakes, they’ll take the handbrake off in a lot of areas and need to put it back on again. It’s going to be fascinating to see. There is a lot of talk about new revenue streams. I am looking forward to see how they monetise the media stream because I think its quite clever. In a way i think the lid has been taken off the sport.
I have just done an interview with Ross Brawn that goes out on our race show here and there is one thing that really resonated with me. He said ‘Nobody did his job!’. His (Ross Brawn’s) new, very wide scope of job and he has got a really important comprehensive role and I think that summed it up. I have said to Bernie over the years, you need a pyramid of management around you and maybe you need to move upstairs and empower some younger people, but his answer was always ‘No! I do the best deals’. Of course he does some incredible deals but I think it (the sport) needed to head in a different direction. I think we have gone the wrong way with the cars and it now needs a very strategic and carefully thought through process on what the end goal is and when it is whether it is 2020 or 2021. I personally think that is too far away. But they need to decide what the shape of an F1 car, an F1 weekend and an F1 championship looks like. That’s where I think Ross and company would be good and do a good job. Generally speaking what we have now is not the answer. Said that, though I think we will be just fine now and moving forward.
Let’s talk about Richard Mille and the Formula 1. How do you think they complement each other?
The strap line alone is a racing machine on the wrist. They use a lot of materials that are relevant to aviation and the high-end motor racing industry. They are highly technical watches and Richard likes to work with carbon star materials, light weight metals and so on. It is really cutting edge stuff, which obviously fits very well with the world of F1 which has a ver similar sort of use of materials for performance, strength and to ensure the cars are as lightweight as possible.
I only ever see you wearing a Richard Mille both on and off the track. Why?
I love the watches! I am good friends with Richard (Mille) and Peter Harrison and when you are in the Mille family, you are in the family for life. It’s great! It’s a fascinating business and I think it would make a good case study at Harvard one day or perhaps it already is. It is a young brand — relatively speaking — it’s dynamic and it’s in a difficult market place yet it is expanding rapidly. People fight over some of the watches despite the prices. Overall it is an interesting and unusual company. They make great products and keep the numbers very low. Richard is a total petrol-head so we fit well together like that plus I do some work with them around the world.
It all started when I bought my first watch from them. I met Richard and I said ‘I am going to do the father and son Le Mans in 2012, would you like to come with us on the adventure?’. Richard very kindly invited me for lunch with Peter and then sponsored us. Then they carried on sponsoring my son who is a world class driver in Le Mans type sports car racing. Richard Mille and I continue to collaborate. Our deal was based on a handshake and if they need me I emcee events like the one in Abu Dhabi (Richard Mille had an exclusive evening cocktail event at the Yas Racing School in November last year) or the one at Harrods in London. I just love being involved with them really.
What made you decide to buy that first Richard Mille watch?
I really liked the shape. I remember while they were building the watch for me they lent me an RM11 and I remember going to interview Michael Schumacher on the grid in Suzuka and as I walked up to him the first thing he said to me was ‘nice watch’ cause he is a fan of the watches as well. I think the use of colours is really interesting. You know I am not a big guy and I don’t like a heavy watch so the expert use of lightweight materials, titanium or carbon, suits me great. Plus the size suits me just fine. My favourite is the RM 11.
You beat me to it! I was just going to ask you what your favourite watch is. Why the RM 11?
I like the new RM11-03. I think the tourbillons are fantastic! It would actually frighten me to travel the world with a tourbillion. What do they cost? Like 350 (thousand) Euros plus, plus. It would actually slightly terrify me to cruise around the world with one of those on my wrist but I do really like the RM 11.
You clearly understand the finer things in life and you were a former race car driver. What does luxury mean to you?
I think especially for a guy, we don’t wear jewellery or make-up so your watch is very much your statement. If you’re a guy who likes to wear stylish, trendy clothes and the right shoes, your only adornment really is your watch. Your watch says a lot about you, so I think that for me is great. Plus it’s always very nice when people come to you and say ‘Oh! is that a Richard Mille?!’. This happens a lot. Richard Mille has this reputation for being exclusive and reassuringly expensive as they say. *He says with a broad smile*