Murray Walker: Tributes paid as ‘Voice of Formula One’ dies aged 97

Murray Walker, the voice of Formula One, has died aged 97, the British Racing Drivers’ Club has said.

Murray Walker (right) with Sir Jackie Stewart after receiving a special award for his contribution to British Television at the British Academy Television Awards in 2002.
Murray Walker (right) with Sir Jackie Stewart after receiving a special award for his contribution to British Television at the British Academy Television Awards in 2002.

Walker, whose broadcasting career spanned more than 50 years, worked for the BBC and ITV, before he retired from commentating in 2001.

The BRDC said in a statement: “It’s with great sadness we share the news of the passing of BRDC Associate Member Murray Walker OBE.

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“A friend, a true motorsport legend, the nation’s favourite commentator and a contagious smile.

Legendary F1 commentator Murray Walker pictured during practice for the European Grand Prix at Nurburgring in 2007. Picture: Mark Thompson/Getty Images

“We thank Murray for all he has done for our community. RIP our friend.”

Martin Brundle, who commentated alongside Walker in the final years of his career, led the tributes on social media.

Writing on Twitter, Brundle said: “Rest In Peace, Murray Walker.

“Wonderful man in every respect. National treasure, communication genius, Formula One legend.”

F1 tweeted: “We are immensely sad to hear that Murray Walker has passed away.

“His passion and love of the sport inspired millions of fans around the world. He will forever be a part of our history, and will be dearly missed.”

Walker’s unique, high-octane style is forever ingrained in British sporting culture. The news of his passing comes just three months after long-serving BBC golf commentator Peter Alliss’ death.

Walker commentated on his first grand prix for the BBC in 1949 before going on to call Ayrton Senna’s intense rivalry with Alain Prost and Nigel Mansell’s 1992 title triumph.

When Damon Hill took the chequered flag at Suzuka to win the Japanese Grand Prix and become world champion in the early hours of an October morning in 1996, an emotional Walker cried: “I have got to stop because I have got a lump in my throat.”

At the BBC, Walker was partnered by world champion James Hunt for 13 years before his death in 1993. The clash of personalities – Walker a consummate professional compared to Hunt’s rather laid-back approach – won over the public.

When Hunt died and Formula One headed to ITV in 1997, Walker, who had been appointed an OBE the previous year for his services to broadcasting and motor racing, teamed up with Brundle, whom he would work alongside for five seasons before his final race at the US Grand Prix in 2001.

James Allen, who succeeded Walker in the commentary box at ITV, said: “Deeply saddened to learn of the death of my mentor Murray Walker. Just shy of his century.

“We lived some great experiences together on the road, many laughs and endless stories. A life incredibly well lived.”

World champions Mercedes tweeted: “He was the voice of F1 to millions and his love, passion and positivity for our sport were unmatched. You will be truly missed, Murray Walker.”

McLaren, Britain’s most successful F1 team, said on Twitter: “Like millions of F1 fans, all of us at McLaren are deeply saddened by the news that Murray Walker has passed away.

“He brought our sport to generations by sharing his passion and knowledge with humour and humility. Our thoughts are with all who had the fortune to know him.”

Hill added on Twitter: “God’s Speed Murray and thanks for so much. The Legend will never die.”

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