Former F1 team boss Ken Tyrrell banned his drivers from having sex before races and once forced Martin Brundle to go to bed while he was eating dinner, it has been revealed. Tyrrell was one of the most iconic team principals during his time in the sport as the man behind the Tyrrell team, which started racing in 1958 and won three Drivers’ Championship titles with Sir Jackie Stewart.
The team was known for its knack of identifying talented drivers, with the likes of Stewart, Jody Scheckter and Brundle all coming through the ranks. It also gained a reputation for introducing unusual concepts, such as the unique six-wheeled P34, before leaving the sport in 1998 when it became known as British American Racing.
The team was owned and operated by Tyrrell, who realised that he was better suited to management after a decent but unremarkable racing career in Formula Two. The man from Surrey had an unconventional way of doing things, as revealed by veteran journalist and long-time friend of Michael Schumacher, Roger Benoit.
Benoit explained to Blick that Tyrrell liked to have control over his drivers to the extent that he banned them from having sex on nights before races. He said: “Sir Jackie Stewart once told me that. The drivers were not allowed to make love the night before the GP, but Tyrrell also had other quirks.
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“If a driver came to the racetrack unshaven or wearing shorts, he would send him back to the hotel. Under Tyrrell, Valtteri Bottas would have been sent back a few times.”
Benoit added that Tyrrell also made sure that his drivers got enough sleep before taking to the track, even if he needed to take matters into his own hands.
“Once I was having dinner in Anderstorp with Martin Brundle, who drove for Tyrrell at the start of his career,” recalled Benoit. “At 10pm sharp, Tyrrell came over to us and told Brundle he had to go to sleep now. He got up and went to sleep nicely. Tyrrell was soft at the core, but otherwise tough.”
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Tyrrell stepped back from his role at the team in 1997 and died four years later following a lengthy battle with pancreatic cancer. He is fondly remembered by many of his drivers, with Brundle crediting him for the success of his own racing career when quizzed on Tyrrell’s legacy earlier this year.
“I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for Ken and the Tyrrell family,” he told Magneto. “It’s my 40th year in Formula One and if Ken hadn’t decided to take a chance on me I’d still be selling Toyotas in Norfolk. In 1983 he decided to give the highest-placed British driver in British F3 a test.
“It was me and Ayrton Senna running away with it, so I knew it was going to be me. It was one of those lovely crispy cold days with a blue sky, no rain and I just flew. Eventually I was sat in his office and he said to me: ‘Right, the bad news is we don’t have any sponsors. The good news is I’m going to sign you anyway’. I wanted to get up and sing and dance. I said: ‘Thank you Mr Tyrrell’.”
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