Mark Blundell Q&A

Mark Blundell left Formula 1 at the end of 1995, after a frustrating season with McLaren. He quickly forged a new career in Champcars with PacWest, and soon proved a winner with the team. Over the past couple of years Pac West has lost its competitive edge, and the 2000 season has been a disaster - as it has for most other Mercedes runners. It was recently announced that Mark will not continue his association with the team next year, when he will be replaced by Kiwi Indy Lights graduate Scott Dixon. Blundell competed in 61 GPs for Brabham, Ligier, Tyrrell and McLaren, scoring three podium finishes, and also had a spell at Williams as test driver. After doing the rounds at the US GP he is hoping to make a return to Europe as an F1 test driver and potentially 'do a Panis.' Adam Cooper spoke to the Brit at Indy

Mark Blundell Q&A

"It's probably not such a strange feeling because I've never driven here! In one respect it's kind of tough. In another respect it's interesting to see this environment inside the oval. I've been here and had a look round before. It's one of those places like Monza or Silverstone, where you go in and you get a little bit of a chill in the spine."

"It's been pretty reasonable over the season, but there's still not been enough overtaking, there's still not been enough action. That's something they need to address. The championship is still alive and anything that goes down to the wire is good in whatever sport."

"It was the same here. I have to say that I've actually got a few situations that I'm looking at, and maybe I might come back and test again. I'm still only 34, I'm no different to what Olivier Panis is in age, I've got the experience, I've done it before, and I think I can do a good job for somebody. The professionalism is something that I very much feel at home with."

"Unfinished business for me in F1, definitely. I never had the right equipment at the right time. I finished in the top 10 in the World Championship twice, and I've been on the podium three times, but I was never in something that was capable of winning a GP. I've driven GP-winning cars, but only in the testing role."

"Yes. I've had some interest. And I think that the deal Panis has done with McLaren is kind of like what I did back in '92. It just didn't have the profile and media attention then. In fact I probably started the trend way back in 1989-'90 with Williams. It becomes more and more important as the schedules get heavier and there are more commitments for tyre testing."

"We were in a tough situation. My situation was very different even to Martin's. I took the role as test driver and then immediately became a race driver, and it was difficult because it was on a race-by-race basis. The reasons for that were to try to keep me on the boil, but I think from my side of things I wanted something different, but the team thought that was the best thing. I think the strategy they have now is the better one, and I think that's been seen. But I did a good job. I outqualified the other guy a few times, and scored a decent amount of points with only doing 15 out of 17 races. I came away with my head held high and no problems."

"I see a lot of guys out there as potential World Champions, if they're sitting in the right equipment. That's the bottom line. It doesn't matter who it is, they're only as good as what's underneath them. If something underneath them is not up to the job, they're not going to do it."

"Exactly that, exactly that. Unfortunately the situation in general has just slid downhill, and I no longer have something underneath me that's capable of winning races. I think that's been quite evident."

"It's a lot of things. Not one component makes up any deal, but if you walk down any pitlane and asked people why their winning, they won't tell you anything in particular, they'll tell you a number of different things."

"I'm not the happiest guy in the world at the timing of the whole event. That hasn't helped me one little bit. I'm going to have a good look around. I've got a lot of stuff I can look at, there are a lot of things that I'm interested in, and I've got to make the right decision for me at the right time."

"There's a lot of areas which I can't talk about yet. It's a little bit complex and there are still things going on at this point. One thing I can tell you is that it's nothing to do with the performance on my side, and the team owner would be the first guy to tell you that."

"The Indianapolis 500 appeals."

"I've been talking to him, but to be honest I'm not sure where he's going at this point, and I'm not sure whether he knows where he's going. So we'll see. CART is not different to anywhere else. It's an international series which is highly competitive. You can't just walk across and just join it."

"It's been good, it's been enjoyable."

"Having no job in any environment is always difficult!"

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