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DECEMBER 11, 2000

Walker to retire from F1 after 2001 season

THE voice of Grand Prix racing Murray Walker announced on Monday that he will hang up his microphone at the end of the 2001 Formula One season.

Walker, 77, has been covering motor racing for over five decades but insisted it was the right time to bow out of the sport after a distinguished career with the BBC and ITV.

He said: "My love for the sport and my privileged place in it is undiminished. I don't actually want to stop but I've always said I will do so when I'm still ahead with the viewers.

"I have a purely gut feeling that now is the time to wind down but I am already immensely looking forward to the start of the new season, which will obviously be gigantically emotional and important to me."

Walker, who is currently working alongside ex-Formula One driver Martin Brundle, also took time out to thank people for their support throughout his incredible career in the sport.

Walker continued: "This will give me the opportunity to thank all the people who have been supporting me all these years."

Brundle also hailed Walker as the best commentator in the business and admitted it has been a privilege to work alongside him.

"Murray has had a spectacular career and is a superb professional and a special broadcaster, one of the best in the business," said Brundle. "It is typical of the man to handle this situation in the way he has.

"It has been a privilege to work with him and my respect and admiration for him I'm sure will grow in 2001."

Walker has caught the hearts of many viewers with his enthusiastic commentary and occasional humorous mistakes during his long stint in broadcasting.

ITV Controller of Sport, Brian Barwick added: "Murray's contribution to Formula One and sports broadcasting has been monumental. He is a man who has the respect and adoration of both viewers and the motor racing community."

Barwick also indicated that Walker's successor will be elected later next year but revealed that James Allen, who replaced Walker at the French Grand Prix last year, is one of the strong candidates for the job.

"James Allen picked up the baton at short notice for the French Grand Prix last season and did a great job," added Barwick. "He will get his opportunity next year ahead of, and above and beyond, any other candidate we may wish to consider."