Martin Brundle opens up on chaotic Jackie Stewart gridwalk: I had started to panic!

Thomas Maher
Sir Jackie Stewart and Roger Federer at the Miami Grand Prix. Miami, May 2023.

Sir Jackie Stewart and Roger Federer at the Miami Grand Prix. Miami, May 2023.

Martin Brundle has revealed his anxiety levels shot up watching Sir Jackie Stewart being intercepted by security on his behalf during the Miami gridwalk.

The highly experienced Sky broadcaster was carrying out one of his famous gridwalks ahead of last weekend’s Miami Grand Prix, when he spotted tennis legend Roger Federer a few metres away.

Unfortunately for Brundle, Federer was on the opposite side of a security rope with Brundle stuck behind it futilely calling to try getting his attention.

But three-time Formula 1 World Champion Sir Jackie Stewart spotted Brundle’s predicament and, without a moment’s hesitation, crossed the security rope to approach Federer to bring him over for a quick interview.

However, a security guard quickly stepped in to block Stewart’s path, only for the Scottish legend to skirt around him further to get Federer’s attention.

Succeeding in reaching the tennis star, Stewart had to explain what he wanted to Federer as the security attempted to herd the 83-year-old back behind the rope, with the situation easing as George Russell came over to put his arm around Stewart to make it clear he was a welcome figure on either side of the rope.

Stewart succeeded in getting Federer over to Brundle for a chat, with the mortified Sky presenter cringing at the position he had inadvertently landed himself and Stewart in.

Martin Brundle: Jackie Stewart a true mate for doing what he did

Speaking on the Sky F1 podcast, Brundle opened up on the incident as he explained how it had unfolded from his perspective.

“What a legend, 83 years old! I happened across him at the front of that rope, it was sort of like trying to get into a dodgy nightclub, wasn’t it?” he said.

“The pair of us, we had no chance – we had the wrong dress code or something!

“I found that whole procedure a little bit weird on the grid. But there were so many people around, and I particularly wanted to talk to Roger [Federer] as I got to the front there. I just happened to see Jackie and he was like, ‘Do you want to talk to him?’ and he said ‘I’ll get him, I’ll get him!’ Then he jumps over the rope, and there were three people running after him. I’m like, ‘Oh, my God, I’ve just gotten Jackie Stewart thrown out of this place’, and we’ve both been thrown out of better places than that!

“It was hilarious, really. Then I started to panic a little bit, if I’m honest! He’s 83, I don’t need him over there risking himself just for an interview. So he was great. That’s a true mate, isn’t it, when they go the extra mile for you like that?” recommends

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Adding to Brundle’s stress was the fact that he was reaching the end of his allotted time for the gridwalk, with Sky trying to hand over to the pre-race grid ceremony that got underway during Federer’s chat with Brundle.

While watching Stewart skirting around security, Brundle also had a countdown timer going in his ear, adding to his stress levels.

“I was obviously in what we call a hard count in our business, into throwing to the presentation,” he revealed.

“It’s sort of non-negotiable and now I’m having to watch security guards, Roger Federer, then George Russell gets involved trying to explain what’s going on, Sir Jackie Stewart –  I see this sort of negotiation going on over there and, literally, my count in my year just finishes as Federer turns around and walks over, escorted by Sir Jackie so I’ve got to talk to him now…

“I think we got away with it somehow but [it was a] huge amount of anxiety level. That’s why I never watch the damn things! And haven’t watched them for 26 years. I’ve seen it on social media that bit, but I can never watch a grid walk back ever. I don’t know who that bloke is running around, being cheeky and rude – my sort of alter ego!”

Karun Chandhok: Jackie Stewart knows how tricky broadcasting can be

With fellow Sky F1 broadcaster Natalie Pinkham exclaiming, “He is a national treasure, which needs to be protected at all costs”, Karun Chandhok joked, “Sometimes from himself!”

The former F1 driver then detailed how the three-time World Champion went off to be a broadcast journalist while still racing in F1, meaning Stewart had ample knowledge of the position Brundle had found himself in.

“I think what a lot of people don’t realise is Jackie has seen Martin’s side of the fence,” Chandhok said.

“There’s a book on my shelf called Faster, which I highly recommend. It’s Jackie’s diary from 1970, the year after his first World Championship. Now imagine, this is the reigning Formula 1 World Champion, and he goes off to cover races in America as a reporter, as a journalist, as the reigning World Champion, while also racing in F1!

“It’s completely mad when you think about it. Jackie has seen this side of the fence, he’s seen how tricky it is to be a broadcaster and cover things out on the grid.”