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Jake Humphrey | 06:46 UK time, Monday, 23 March 2009

Well, this is a first for me. Just a couple of weeks after writing my first blog, I'm composing this one at 35,000 feet somewhere above China as I join the bulk of our production team who are all on-board as we head to Melbourne for race one.

I just glanced out of the window at China at night - twinkling lights following a river that seemed to be impossibly curvy and above me the thinnest slither of moon with what was probably a satellite glimmering inside the crescent. Quite something.

As ever my timing is perfection. Ledgy - as everyone calls commentator Jonathan Legard - is sitting next to me and clearly he's got the right idea. He prepared for his first TV F1 commentary by sleeping like a baby for five hours. I need to get my globetrotting skills as well polished as his.

I drunk too much bottled water, needed the loo, clambering over a dozy commentator in the dark cabin, returned and repeated the whole process about another five times.

I struggled to get comfortable, watched Casino Royal (disappointing) and The Wrestler (Micky Rourke), not even the best of Simon and Garfunkel could relax me to a state of even mild sleepy drifting.

And the timing? Well I'd decided if sleeping was going to remain elusive, I'd better be productive. I got out the table, struggled to extract my Mac from the overhead cabin, and, having got this far, breakfast has just arrived. I'm paranoid that as I peel back the foil on the plastic OJ carton it'll cover the keyboard... the food can wait.


Anyway, sorry I've been slack on the blog for a few days. The past week just flew by!

It included a trip to Stuttgart to meet Mercedes Motorsport. And what a treat it was.

Mark Wilkin our F1 editor, Jonathan, David Coulthard and I met up with Norbert Haug, who heads up their division and is clearly concerned about McLaren's current predicament. But he made it clear that until the moment the red lights go out at Albert Park they will be working on developments to push up the grid and try to put what seems like a very disappointing winter test programme behind them.

We also got a chance to look at some of Mercedes's most precious cars, which are kept in a low-key, non-descript white building in a residential area of the city.

We got the chance to see Mercedes race cars from across the generations, including Fangio's title winning W196 from the 1954 season, the car with which Lewis Hamilton snatched the title last year and, just for the record, DC even recognised his 1999 race car even though it was covered by a protective cloth!

It was a good day. Mercedes were very open, honest and seem to want to have a close working relationship with us during the coming season - bodes well.

The week was also dominated by the announcement that "the winner takes all" this season, which was then swiftly delayed until 2010. I enjoyed reading all your comments and thoughts on how you think it would have affected the racing had it been implemented immediately.

Eddie Jordan seemed to think it would improve the spectacle for the drivers at the front, and give the smaller teams the chance to scrap for points. Whereas DC told me that no driver just settles for second place anyway. He reckons "we settled for second spot" basically means "we weren't quick enough"!

Well, the above argument can wait for the next 12 months, anyway. I'm more interested in how you feel that the most fundamental rules and regulations are being chopped and changed just a few days before this wonderful sport begins a season that is promising more than ever before.

A few of you seemed really disappointed with the decision, I just hope that it didn't burst your "pre-season bubble" and that you can see past those headlines and remember all the things we should be positive about as Melbourne approaches.

And after all, it means F1 has been all over the front and back pages once again - is there such a thing as bad publicity?

Anyway, time for Slumdog Millionaire and on with the flight. I really can't wait to arrive and soak up the atmosphere of my first Australian GP. I feel so lucky to be on my way and look forward to sharing the build up with you.

Have a good week,



  • Comment number 1.

    Excellent blog and interesting to hear that Eddie Jordan thought that the new points system was a good idea.
    Even more interesting to hear Coulthard say no driver settles for second place... I seem to recall him doing just that with Hakkinen at Australia in 1998... Going as far as to move aside for him... Not even racing him or making a point to before letting him by under team orders.
    Stuart Gray -

  • Comment number 2.

    You couldn't get to sleep whilst listening to Simon & Garfunkel??
    Was DC plying you with Red Bull before you took off?

  • Comment number 3.

    I think all the chopping and changing is great. It wouldn't be F1 without the politics! It's part of the reason I love it.

  • Comment number 4.

    Great blog Jake, glad to hear at least 'Ledgy''s grabbing some sleep!

    Enjoy Slumdog, it's excellent.

  • Comment number 5.

    Look forward to it Jake, I was in Melbourne only 5 months ago. It's an awesome city and I can only imagine what it'll be like this weekend. I'm not so sure what you guys at the Beeb would have thought about the new points system... with the season possibly over at the half way stage (unlikely I know) you'd have been paying a lot of money for the rights of a procession.

  • Comment number 6.

    Forget about all the F1 points controversy. Jake you didn't like Casino RoyalE ? Where were you 3 years ago when it came out. I look forward to hearing what you think of Quantum of Solace in 2012.

    Apart from your appalling taste in films looking forward to following your F1 coverage this season. All the best for Saturday.

  • Comment number 7.

    Stewzer in #1 has it right. No driver "settles" for a place, and gives up, or allows people to pass. But the *team* does, for purposes outside the narrow view of a single driver in a single race.

    That's what was wrong with Bernie's proposal. Brilliant for the drivers in a position to fight for 1st place. But there was no thought for the drivers in lower positions, and room for all kind of inconsistencies within team strategies. It would have changed how teams approached circuits they couldn't win - because stopping your rival winning was the best 2nd choice if you couldn't win yourself.

    Lastly, there was a massive inconsistency over the scoring, with a mixture of points and wins, and could have led to a very unclear table at the end of the season.

    Glad it's gone - but I think it was only ever a sacrificial mask for the £30million pound thing anyway.

    But as Jake says - lets hope it hasn't burst the pre-season bubble. I'm looking forward to seeing what happens more than the last few years - and that has something to do with the fact that many teams seem to be level and capable of competing.

  • Comment number 8.

    I'm pleased that the FIA saw sense and canned the idea of 'winner takes all'. It's another ill-thought out, unnecessary rule change from the increasingly barmy, befuddled Bernie.

    What about constant changes to the qualifying format over the last 5 or so years - completely pointless. I reckon a large percentage of F1 fans enjoyed the hour long shootout with all the action in the last 5 minutes - I know I did.

    I think that Max is (just about) OK and has the sport's future at heart, but Bernie is an ever increasing liability who more often than not gives curious answers to straightforward questions. I think it's time he stepped down...

  • Comment number 9.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 10.

    Never been to Melbourne, but if anything like other great Oz cities, you're in for a real treat.

    Like Connors-75, I'm surprised that Simon and Garfunkel didn't send you off to Dreamland, but I guess you're probably too hyped on the adventure you're on.

    Good luck, and like everyone else, I can't wait for the season to get going...

  • Comment number 11.

    you were disappointed with casino royale? I thought it was great...

    I will let you off you are a fellow mac user

  • Comment number 12.

    Good Stuff Jake.
    I'm puzzled by the reasoning of the point scoring change being implemented so late. No reasonable organisation would ever move the goal posts so late on. It's like the FA making a win worth four points halfway through the football season. The governing bodies of F1 are trivialising their own sport.

    Can't wait to see Jenson Button in a competitive car for once. I will be following Brawn GP with interest.

  • Comment number 13.

    Arh, Jake, you lucky lad!

    What I wouldn't give to be in your position this weekend. Whilst I sit at home pulling my hair out worrying about my BBC1 signal (reception has been randomly dropping out). Hope you have a blast, and make the most of it!

    Great blog.

  • Comment number 14.

    Yet again, a great read Jake!

    The points thing didn't bother me too much, (it would possibly have put Jenson in pole position for the title on testing form!)

    What is worrying though, is the fact that teams are now looking at lodging appeals against Brawn gp re. the legality of the rear diffuser. Would they be doing that if Brawn gp were running a second behind Ferrari? I think not.

    Also Max Moseley has been quoted as saying that as far as the FIA are concerned the diffusers are legal, but it is down to the stewards in Melbourne if appeals are lodged. My question is, if the FIA say they are legal, why should it be reffered to the stewards at all? If say, it is reffered to the stewards and Brawn gp win the first race. When will the ruling be announced? According to Bernie, it may not be sorted till the 1st European race!

  • Comment number 15.

    Easy with the off topic links - they don't add value. Interesting routing to Oz too.

  • Comment number 16.

    Hi Jake, Can't wait til the new season!

    With regards to the new points system wouldn't it just be best to put it back to 12 points for 1st and 8 points for second? Surely the massive incentive of getting the extra couple of points would be better? Like when it was before they changed the it to the current points system to stop Schmacher winning everything!
    It seems to suit both parties, Bernie will get his wish of the driver with the most wins would more than likely get the championship and the spectators will get the potentially thrilling duel for 1st and second that the sport has been missing rather than these tactical races we keep on seeing.

  • Comment number 17.

    You'll enjoy Slumdog Millionaire - although not liking Casino Royale makes me slightly concerned about your taste in films.

    Great news about the points system being delayed, although Bernie's comments about 2010 are ominous and really demonstrate the bizarre contempt he seems to have towards to the teams. Words to the effect of:-

    'It'll be in the FIA regulations for 2010, so the teams won't be able to appeal anything. That will be the rules and thats it'.

    Gob-smackingly arrogant.

    Friday should prove to be interesting - we should finally get to see the truth behind Mclaren's winter testing times. I'm reckoning it'll be nowhere near as bad as first thought (ie. only ahead of Force India), but still pretty noticably slower than Ferarri, BMW and Brawn/Renault.

  • Comment number 18.

    Great blog here's looking forward to one of the best seasons ever. Jenson world champion at last - hope so its possible if the Brawn delivers its true potential. Enjoy Melbourne I know I will enjoy watching can't wait to see The chain again along with F1 back on the beeb.

  • Comment number 19.

    Jake, hope ur flight is going swimmingly :D
    just wondering, is it true that the Beeb will be covering friday and saturday practices on top of the usual qualifying and race coverage? Hope you are able to get some sleep at some point! My best friend is on his way via Ukraine and UAE to Nepal so i don't envy you!

  • Comment number 20.

    Nice work Jake
    Sleeping on planes is never an easy thing for me either. Very true about there is no such thing as bad publicity as far as behind the scenes of F1 is involved, in fact I'm quite pleased the FOTA actually pointed out that what Bernie was doing was illegal within the rules of the FIA. I sometimes wonder what the heck Bernie is up to. Well I've booked a long weekend off- roll on 1am Friday night for some F1 red button action (the first since 2002 for me)- best of luck to you and all the team (keep an eye on EJ- he can get a bit exictable if he hasn't got a drum kit in front of him ;) ), it's good to have F1 back where it belongs!

  • Comment number 21.

    jake you got a great job! good luck on F1 reporting...

  • Comment number 22.

    I suspect you'll be missing out on a little more sleep over the weekend glaring at the score on Saturday/Sunday... OTBC

  • Comment number 23.

    "and above me the thinnest slither of moon"

    "The thinnest SLIVER of moon" I think Jake, unless the moon has achieved the capability to move like a snake...

  • Comment number 24.

    Jake, any word on potential bias from the BBC team? You have to understand that most F1 fans don't support drivers because of nationality. I'm British so according to some I should support Hamilton, but in truth I was really annoyed when Massa lost the title to Hamilton.

    I'm hoping for more neutrality than ITV provided.

  • Comment number 25.

    Hi all,

    Update is we've arrived in Melbourne. Staying at a hotel where not only did they decide to make the walls from ice-cream wafers but I fear they invited the "Australian coughers society" to check in... sleeping here might be as tough as our Boeing.

    Just returned from a few drinks with the team in the bar and ready for bed as it's well past 1am. We're in St Kilda and I've been assured the sea is just over the road... at the moment it just looks like a black cloth so I'll take their word for it.

    Also, an apology. I watched the disappointing Quantumn of Solace on our flight, not the excellent Casino Royale - my body clock was so messed up I thought I was back in 2007 obviously!!

    I'll try and snap some photos for you tomorrow as the fun really begins.


  • Comment number 26.

    you're a lucky man Jake, I envy you as I sit here in my open-plan office watching the clock tick by.

    Being a fellow 6ft+ gent - I hope you've got the leg room on your flight!

    Best of luck this weekend and for the season ahead.

    Cant wiat for the season to start!

  • Comment number 27.


    Care to make any predictions for who will win in Melbourne?

    Just curious.

  • Comment number 28.

    Another excellent blog Jake. Your entries are always very interesting and I am very intriged to see some of your shots from tommorow!

    And yes indeed, Quantam of Solace is not very good, particularly compared to some of the more recent Bond movies!

    Can't wait for free practice to roll on, not long left now... :D

  • Comment number 29.

    I look forward to seeing some pics Jake, it will (almost) be like we're there with you! :P

  • Comment number 30.

    Nice blog as always, Jake. It'll be nice if you could snap a few pics from around the Melbourne track if you guys can get access to all round the circuit.

    Only 6 days now....

  • Comment number 31.

    'my body clock was so messed up I thought I was back in 2007 obviously!!'

    Very messed up! Casino Royale was released in 2006! I'll let you off seeing as it was past 1am and you'd been in the bar :-) Can't wait for the coverage.

  • Comment number 32.

    Good blog... Jake!

    Thanks! Slumdog Millionaire -- Good choice of movie although it certainly won't help you sleep!!

    Glad to see that the decision to change the points system has been revoked!

    Counting down the minutes....

  • Comment number 33.

    im a major Bond fan and i was very disapointed with it jake, nowhere near as good as casino royale.
    so your in Auz..Have you seen any non F1 celebs trying to get in on the F1 scene Jake??

  • Comment number 34.

    Another excellent read Jake

  • Comment number 35.

    Great blog Jake! Looking forward to some partisan comments from Auntie Beeb this year.... "Why are Max & Bern trying to scupper the season before it starts" could cause some amusement!- should get things going if you're feeling brave enough! Looking forward to a great season - best of luck to the new team.

  • Comment number 36.

    Hi Jake, an interesting read - and please keep up the little details about the flights etc - the human side.

    Now, if I may, I would like to offer some advice. Having some passion is a good start - there is no way you can do a worse job than Rosenthal or Ryder!

    It amuses me that so many used to complain about James Allen - for me the ITV "anchor" was the most excruciating experience - an utter waste of space - as much of a pain as the ads. I can understand that, from a production point of view, the anchor is what holds the program together but...

    Compare the coverage to "Have I got news for you" - if anything getting rid of Angus Deayton improved the experience. The changing presenters all know what to expect, the format is unchanged but the perspective changes. I often thought that the ITV coverage should have been anchored by a different member of the team at different races. They could each place the emphasis in a different direction and kept the interest levels up as they concentrated on their areas of expertise. The anchor should be adding something. If all that is needed is a link to the next expert it would be better done by a pretty girl! - or a few bars of the chain!

    I just hope that you can bring a positive slant that improves the viewers experience.

    Good luck for the season!

  • Comment number 37.

    Thanks for the blogging know your stuff and its great that someone is actually blogging and its the anchor of the coverage.
    Plus I hope that you will show that you are the Anchor....dont let some one steal that like Eddie..he wants the limelight.
    Im still usnure of Legard as 'colour' commentator, I still think we should have had Ben Edwards who shows passion but I will give Legard a chance...he has to be passionate but not too much, too much and I would want James Allen back!

  • Comment number 38.

    How could you not like Casino Royale? ;)

    And to answer your question, "is there such a thing as bad publicity?", then yes, there is such a thing when Max Mosley is involved :-D

  • Comment number 39.

    Oops, just read what you said in your response. The important thing you need to remember about QoS is that you need to think of that and Casino Royale as one big movie rather than QoS as a seperate film - otherwise it has no plot!


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