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
The Inside Track: Paddocks, Pit Stops and Tales of My Life in the Fast Lane
Author: Jake Humphrey
Publisher: Simon and Schuster
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