Murray Walker, the British broadcaster regarded as the “Voice of Formula One”, has died aged 97.
Walker, who served in the Second World War, became a Formula One icon during more than 30 years as a commentator for the BBC and ITV.
Known for his passionate vocal style while commentating, he reported on his first Grand Prix for BBC radio at Silverstone in 1949.
Walker became a full-time F1 commentator in 1978 and only hung up his microphone when he retired in 2001 after a 52-year broadcasting career.
“So sad to hear of Murray’s passing. I remember growing up hearing your voice over the races,” said seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton.
“You made the sport so much more exciting and captivating. The iconic voice of our sport and a great man, thank you for all you did, you will never be forgotten. Rest in peace.”
So sad to hear of Murray’s passing. I remember growing up hearing your voice over the races. You made the sport so much more exciting and captivating. The iconic voice of our sport and a great man, thank you for all you did, you will never be forgotten. Rest in peace????????
— Lewis Hamilton (@LewisHamilton) March 13, 2021
From James Hunt’s 1976 championship triumph over Niki Lauda at a rain-lashed Fuji, to Ayrton Senna’s intense rivalry with Alain Prost and Nigel Mansell’s 1992 title glory, Walker’s voice was synonymous in the UK with some of F1’s most memorable moments.
When Britain’s Damon Hill took the chequered flag at Suzuka to win the Japanese Grand Prix and become world champion in 1996, an emotional Walker said during his commentary: “I have got to stop because I have got a lump in my throat.”
Walker graduated from Sandhurst’s Royal Military College and went on to command a Sherman tank in the Battle of the Reichswald in World War Two.
He left the Army after the war and eventually joined the BBC, where he was handed commentating duties after an explosion of interest in Formula One following Hunt’s 1976 triumph.
Walker battled health problems in his later years.
He was diagnosed with a form of lymphoma during tests in hospital after he suffered a fall while on holiday when he was aged 89.
F1 led the tributes to Walker on social media, tweeting: “We are immensely sad to hear that Murray Walker has passed away.
“And I have to stop there as I have a lump in my throat”
Energy, passion, emotion. Few have ever done it as well as Murray pic.twitter.com/YDJoMpeaNl
— Formula 1 (@F1) March 13, 2021
“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.”
McLaren, Britain’s most successful F1 team, said: “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.”
Murray attracted a legion of fans for both his knowledge of the sport and colourful, verbal slip-ups which formed part of his legacy.
Amongst these were: “There’s nothing wrong with the car except it’s on fire”, “Now excuse me while I interrupt myself”, “I’m ready to stop my start watch” and “Unless I’m very much mistaken… I am very much mistaken!”