You’re an up and coming basketball star heading out to your first Formula 1 race. You’re given an all-access pass to head out onto the grid before the race to see the sites and soak up the atmosphere. While you’re taking it all in, a small man accosts you with a microphone and starts asking you questions about a sport you don’t play.
It’s what happened to NBA star Paolo Banchero, who while minding his own business on the F1 grid at Sunday’s inaugural Miami Grand Prix when Sky F1 commentator Martin Brundle came over for a chat during his typically chaotic pre-race grid walk. Nothing strange here, Brundle usually likes to chat with the famous faces on the grid to hear their expectations for the race ahead.
But, this interaction caught the attention of the globe when it transpired that Brundle didn’t really know who he was talking to. Not in a “don’t you know who I am,” kind of way from Banchero, instead it was a case of mistaken identity on Brundle’s part.
The ex-F1 driver started by saying “It’s amazing to be allowed right in the middle of the competitors right before the race starts,” which is a fair comment, as I’m sure it is an electric and exciting place to be before the lights go out.
Banchero replies by saying: “You can see they’re locked in, it reminds me of myself and real focus.”
But then, the penny drops and Brundle realizes his Bumble and asks “What is your name?” after noting that it’s “not Patrick” [Mahomes], the Kansas City Chiefs quarterback. that he’s talking to. Brundle was instead talking with NBA prospect Paolo Banchero.
After clearing up who’s who, Brundle says: “Well I thought I was talking to somebody else, so I’m sorry about that,” before chuckling and parting ways with the 6-foot-10 basketball player.
Banchero and Mahomes did later share a laugh about the case of mistaken identity on Twitter, where many fans also commented on the haphazard nature of Brundle’s grid walks.
Sure, it’s nice to see the ex-F1 racer weave his way in between drivers, mechanics and stars to get comments in the buildup to the race. But, this isn’t the first time the 5-foot-7 commentator has found himself in an awkward encounter while walking the grid.
Last year, he drew criticism for his run in with rapper Megan Thee Stallion, who he asked for a freestyle rap about Formula 1. That went about as well as you would expect, and whipped onlookers into a frenzy over the following days.