“The Inside Track” by Jake Humphrey reviewed

F1 review

Jake Humphrey has been the face of BBC’s F1 coverage since 2009. He’s heading to new pastures at the end of the season and has produced a memoir of his time fronting Formula One for UK viewers.

He relates his F1 experiences with self-effacing charm. He recalls answering his phone shortly after the news broke that he was the BBC’s chosen presenter, to be told by his wife: “I’ve just been on the internet and everyone thinks you’re going to be rubbish!”

Humphrey speaks from the heart like a true fan on subjects like F1’s disinterest in its own history, the loss of classic circuits and how the pursuit of safety has diminished the challenge of Grand Prix racing. But while the sentiment appeals, the content is on the thin side.

The book seems to be aimed at a casual fan rather than an F1 Fanatic. How many times have we heard the one about how ‘if you assemble an F1 car 99% correctly there’ll still be 50 things wrong with it’?

There are a smattering of amusing anecdotes, some interesting details on the working of the F1 media machine – and far too much superfluous re-telling of recent F1 history.

Worse, Humphrey ignores one subject about which his audience have been vocal and on which his opinion and insight would have been most valuable. The disappearance of live coverage of half of the F1 season from free-to-air television passes without mention, despite its obvious relevance to his role as F1 presenter.

This is the second of two books by F1 presenters which have appeared almost simultaneously and there’s quite a contrast between them.

Steve Rider’s My Chequered Career has the benefit of spanning a much longer period than Humphrey’s book. It also offers some more vivid tales and a sharper criticism of F1 broadcasting, and is my pick of the two.

F1 Fanatic rating

Rating two out of five

Buy The Inside Track: Paddocks, Pit Stops and Tales of My Life in the Fast Lane

Buy The Inside Track: Paddocks, Pit Stops and Tales of My Life in the Fast Lane (eBook version)

The Inside Track: Paddocks, Pit Stops and Tales of My Life in the Fast Lane

Author: Jake Humphrey
Publisher: Simon and Schuster
Published: 2012
Price: ??18.99

Win “The Inside Track” by Jake Humphrey

We’ve got five copies of “The Inside Track” for F1 Fanatic readers to win. Send in your answer via the contact form below for your chance to win – remember to include your postal address:

Who won the world championship when the BBC last stopped broadcasting F1 in 1996?

This competition has closed.

Terms and conditions

1. Maximum one entry per household.
2. The competition is not open to employees, friends or family of F1 Fanatic or Simon and Schuster.
3. In the event of a dispute the editor?s decision is final and no correspondence will be entered into.
4. No cash alternative is offered for any of the prizes.
5. Deadline for entries is midnight on 18th November 2012. Winners will be notified by email within seven days.


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25 comments on “The Inside Track” by Jake Humphrey reviewed

  1. TommyB (@tommyb89) said on 11th November 2012, 14:18

    It’s great that you do such honest reviews Keith, you aren’t afraid to give a bad review if things aren’t very good.

    This book just seems so generic and just look at the front cover “The Inside Track” and another classic “My Life in the fast lane.”

  2. Roald (@roald) said on 11th November 2012, 14:33

    I like the honest reviews indeed. Still filled in the form to win a copy, having something to read never hurt before.

  3. Mustalainen (@mustalainen) said on 11th November 2012, 15:45

    Who won the world championship when the BBC last stopped broadcasting F1 in 1996?

    Now how am I going to find that out – I give up, I give up, as Alonso would say.

  4. Keith, how about adding a tab with your recommended F1 reads? Over time it could include the reviews too but since you have read more about the subject than most it would be a nice source for the rest of us.

    • BasCB (@bascb) said on 12th November 2012, 7:10

      There’s a tab named reviews under the Info tab in the menue @poul! Keith already thought about that. And I guess Keith will include some in his best reads in a “what to get for christmas” feature we are all looking forward to :-)

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 12th November 2012, 13:09

      @poul Yeah I’d like to do something like that. Frankly the whole reviews section needs an overhaul. As @bascb points out a quick why to go through reviews is to look at the category:

      F1 reviews

      But I would like some easy way of sorting them by rating and highlighting the best.

  5. wheresf1gone said on 11th November 2012, 17:16

    Wot, no mention of being the BBC face of F1 when they sold it down the river!

  6. verstappen (@verstappen) said on 11th November 2012, 18:00

    Still, I wanna win it!

  7. Ash356 (@ash356) said on 12th November 2012, 11:58

    I’ll be honest, the somewhat creepy smile he’s doing on the cover put me off immediately.

  8. maxthecat said on 12th November 2012, 12:44

    He’s been plugging this mercilessly on his twitter feed, had a feeling it might be a little dull as the author is.

    More interesting is who will replace him, not sure the BBC have the guts to give it to Lee Mckenzie, who would be the best option.

  9. AndrewTanner (@andrewtanner) said on 12th November 2012, 13:21

    I’ve grown rather disinterested in him to be honest though I would be keen to know how the media side of things work.

  10. Rory Mitchell (@rorymitchell) said on 12th November 2012, 16:41

    Does Jake talk about how the BBC produce their live content at all? Like behind the scenes in understanding how the BBC are able to broadcast the Brazilian GP using the people we don’t normally see on camera?

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 12th November 2012, 16:52

      @rorymitchell As in, how are the shows technically produced? Not really. But there is an account of how he got his role and developed a working relationship with his co-presenters. And there’s a few more detailed bits on memorable moments – Button winning the championship, Massa’s crash in 2009 and so on.

  11. GeorgeTuk (@georgetuk) said on 12th November 2012, 17:31

    I have never really liked Jake Humphreys, he’s a fake.

    Every time he gets a new job, its a dream job he has always wanted to do since whenever. He said for Football Focus after leaving Newsround, then for F1 and now again for the BT service which everyone knows is all about the money.

    So it doesn’t surprise me in the slightest that the book is the way Keith read it.

  12. I don’t like Jake Humphreys and am pleased he’s going. I know he was the front man but I would prefer someone who knows what they are talking about, like Murray Walker not someone who obvious knew nothing about F1 and had to quickly learn what he was talking about

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