The BBC has been warned that it risks placing Martin Brundle 'under unimaginable strain' as the former grand prix ace prepares to increase his role within the corporation in 2011 - with David Coulthard for the first time hinting at his own move to join his erstwhile manager in the commentary box this year.

As we reported exclusively here on before Christmas, the unpopular Jonathan Legard has been dropped from Auntie's commentating line-up after two years [see separate story - click here]. He will be replaced by Brundle - who is believed to have orchestrated the change, having failed to establish any kind of chemistry or rapport with the ex-Radio 5 Live man - with Coulthard slotting in next to his close friend and former sparring partner.

The Scot has spent the past two seasons since hanging up his grand prix helmet as a BBC F1 pundit alongside colourful ex-team owner Eddie Jordan and anchorman Jake Humphrey, but it is understood that fans' favourite Brundle - who exerts the most influence upon the decision-makers at Broadcasting House out of any of the commentary team - has lobbied hard for 'DC' to be promoted to commentating duties in 2011.

Whilst the BBC will concede only that 'we're still looking at our line-up', Coulthard has told British newspaper The Sun: "I've had talks about what I could be doing within the show. They are finalising things."

However, some have opined that the 13-time grand prix-winner's total lack of prior commentating experience is a huge gamble for the BBC's ?200 million annual F1 deal - as well as for Brundle. The shake-up and untried partnership means there will be no professionally-trained journalist in the commentary box, and puts the former Benetton, McLaren and Ligier star under even greater pressure as he addresses some five million viewers as Britain's new 'Voice of F1', a role made famous by Murray Walker for a quarter of a century from 1976 to 2001.

Brundle has won numerous awards for his commentating and keen, incisive analysis of grands prix, and his regular pre-race 'grid walk' is a much-loved feature of the Beeb's F1 programming - but it is the 51-year-old's determination to continue that tradition that has provoked some concern, given that whilst Legard had used to introduce races to allow his co-commentator to compose himself, the latter will now need to successfully dovetail both responsibilities.

It will be, some fear, as much a logistical issue as a test of Brundle's character and ability, with one F1 source telling the Daily Mail: "This could place Martin under unimaginable strain."



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