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Jake Humphrey | 11:19 UK time, Thursday, 18 June 2009

This week Meriddian left a comment on my Twitter page referring to my previous blog as surreal. Well let me tell you now that surreal doesn't even begin to describe the past couple of days - leading up to the most amazing Thursday morning of my life (and I'm safe from my wife arguing with me because we didn't get married on a Thursday!)

Anyway, the week started to get slightly weird on Tuesday...I ended up somewhere I never expected to be, at the St Johns College May Ball at Cambridge University.

I won't reveal my A-level grades on here, suffice to say I was close to not making any establishment, let alone Cambridge. Therefore I'm delighted and very proud that my cousin Simon has ended up as a Fellow at St Johns, the fact he is chairman of the May Ball is also rather handy when it comes to getting an invite!

Time Magazine described the night as the 'sixth best party on the planet' - and I wouldn't disagree. It was an incredible setting and a fantastic night, if a little odd when I ended up as 'security' for chart topper Calvin Harris.

My uncle Michael was there too along with Harriet. In the wee small hours when the 'main act' was due to entertain the masses in the university's famous grounds, Simon announced that as chairman he could get the three of us to the very front. Little did we know that he meant it would be as impromptu security guards, charged with preventing the barriers from toppling over. Just try and imagine my wife with ball gown and high heels, acting like Mr T - priceless!

I quite enjoyed it too, despite people remarking "doesn't that security guy look just like Jake Humphrey from the F1."

On Wednesday I was at the official F1 launch party in central London along with Lewis, Rory Bremner and all the Ecclestone clan. It was a moving night actually as it was to raise much needed funds for Great Ormond Street Hospital. Bernie has also invited a few of the patients to the race this weekend and I look forward to meeting them all in the Paddock.

I had to leave the launch earlier than I would have liked though as the alarm was primed for a rather painful 4am. I made sure I packed the car and got the shirts ironed before hitting the sack.

Alarm wasn't too bad, shower was a little cold, drive along the M40 in the mist was cracking - and then I arrived in a field opposite Silverstone to be greeted by this sight...

The balloon at dawn

We were thinking of ways to open the qualifying show on Saturday, something that would give people a re-introduction to this famous circuit in a way they haven't seen before. Well, credit has to go to Roger Bines my faithful monitor man for coming up with the idea of a hot air balloon at dawn over the track.

Roger with monitor in Bahrain

Thankfully I had already got a taste of a hot air balloon on Sunday when I went on a trip above Leeds Castle that Harriet had bought me for my 30th. Mind you, that was a big balloon with 13 people in a large, sturdy basket. By comparison, this morning it felt like we were climbing into a picnic basket!

The nerves were soon forgotten however as we soared (well, drifted) up into the dawn sun. Silverstone's huge, wide runways that date from 1943 when this place was an RAF airfield, soon became clear, dwarfing the track that looks impossibly thin and narrow by comparison.

Matt the producer didn't get to enjoy the mist rolling over Northamptonshire, the campsites already starting to fill up with keen fans, or even the famous signature curves of Becketts, Stowe, Bridge and Priory, as he had to sit on the floor of the basket for logistical reasons. Unlucky Matt!

Matt in the basket

We had a great chat with EJ about everything from him coming to watch the races in the '70s to his memories of Mansell's heroics in 1992 while Andy the cameraman dealt with a rather cramped and unconventional working environment.

Andy works in confined spaces

It was soon time to think about a landing, before we ended up over Milton Keynes with a tricky touchdown and a long trip back to our cars.

Our consummately calm and professional pilot Clive landed us in what looked like an impossibly small field from the sky but turned out to be fine. In typical EJ style, and despite Matt's begging, Eddie refused to adopt the obligatory 'landing position'. Instead he was stood up, facing the direction of travel, announcing: "I don't want to miss the landing!"

We touched down perfectly, ending up at 45-degree tilt that still didn't stop Eddie from leaping out of the balloon like an excited kid and announcing it was "way past breakfast time". It was 6.20am.

Eddie in exciteable mood

The next thing we know he's run off, accosted some poor guy out for a morning run, and then stalked off out of the field, beckoning us to follow him. He was going in search of The Cock Hotel, which we were assured would be serving breakfast at such a time.

Picture the scene. Four guys from the BBC including the former boss of Jordan Grand Prix sauntering into the tiny, fast asleep and unbelievably quiet market town of Stony Stratford (scenes from Withnail and I were shot there in 1987) as it's waking up. All of us looking for The Cock Hotel and a well earned cooked breakfast. It was like a scene out of Reservoir Dogs. EJ was Mr Hungry...

Mr Hungry leads the way

Eddie got final directions from an unsuspecting commuter who was a little shocked to see him at such an hour in such a place. The guy must have thought it was the final chapter of a particularly impressive night out that probably started somewhere in London!

Eddie gets directions

Eventually we found the hotel and Eddie marched in, saying to the waitress: "I need breakfast, I've just been up in a balloon." We were all chuckling about what an odd situation we'd ended up in, in this tiny town in Buckinghamshire - but the breakfast was cracking and as you can see, plates were all cleared!!

We enjoy our breakafst

A clean breakfast plate

It really was a great morning, and the perfect introduction to my first British Grand Prix. I hope Donington provides such entertainment in 2010.

So, Matt is now back in London editing our Phileas Fogg style opening together, EJ is off having meetings somewhere and I'm typing away in the BBC production office in the shadow of the pit straight grandstand, anticipation and excitement building by the minute.

Today will consist of getting my bearings, I'm meant to be meeting Nelsinho Piquet for lunch to get to know him, and we'll be discussing how we can make this weekend the best of the season so far.

I hope you'll be joining us at 12.10pm on both days this weekend. Here's hoping it's another British Grand Prix to remember!


  • Comment number 1.

    Great blog as usual!! Really loving hearing all about the adventures of you and the team!

    Is the BBC the host broadcaster for this event? Does that mean you will be able to bring additional features/coverage? We haven't seen much of the side-by-side comparison of cars this year, which I thought was supposed to be a new feature?

    One thing I've always wanted to see is the control room - I'd love to see how the director/editor/whoever controls what we the viewers see on the official broadcast and how he does things like follow one car round a lap from the 15 different cameras I'm sure they have to join together.

    Just an idea - I know I'd love to see it, I'm sure others would too!

    Enjoy the weekend - I'm sure it will be great!


  • Comment number 2.

    I am eargerly anticipating the grand prix this weekend. I imagine it will be an emotional occasion for many people who have a speical place in their heart for the ciruit. Lets hope the race is a memorable one for Silverstone to sign off with.

    I hope Rubens Barrichello can break his duck and grab his first win of the season. However the Silverstone fairytale would be complete if Button could add his name to the long list of past british winners.

    Thanks for the blog. The balloon footage at dawn should look spectacular. Well done BBC for another innovative idea for coverage of the race. Roll on Sunday.

  • Comment number 3.

    Absolutely loving your blog Jake - do you have to pinch yourself every morning to check this is really happening? What a life - I bet Harriet has a hard time coming to terms with your new jetset lifestyle? Thanks for the great coverage and for asking the questions I would want to ask if I were in your position - a positon I must say which is the envy of many. My pal is also hooked which is amazing since up until this season he dismissed F1 as boring and not even worthy of being called a sport. The BBC and in particular the frankly hilarious banter between yourself, EJ and DC is TV gold - looking forward to anotherr exiting race this weekend and I hope you manage to avoid getting run over in the pit lane this time!!

  • Comment number 4.

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

  • Comment number 5.

    Hey great blog. Its a fab build up to what will hopefully be a brilliant weekend. Hopefully Jenson wins and Hamilton follows close by.

    I am loving the show and every weekend has been a plaesure to watch and seeing behind the scenes is a great bonus that we have not had in previous years.

    I look forward to a great weekend and DC's newest pink shirt. Should be brill.

  • Comment number 6.

    Another top notch blog Jake. You don't half get some amazing jobs to do,I'm sure this weekends coverage will make up for the fact I couldn't get tickets this year... well at least any in my price range being a student, also on a sidenote If EJ or DC need to be replaced one weekend don't be affraid to look me up :D Roll on the weekend!!

  • Comment number 7.

    oops, got modded. my goodness, Jake, i thought it couldn't get any better after you driving with Lewis and Jenson, and now you're up in a hot air balloon! you are the jammiest guy ever :) and I never got to go to St John's Ball and I went to Cambridge!

  • Comment number 8.

    Hi Jake

    Thanks for another great blog. I'm really enjoying following your adventures. Your blogs have very quickly become something I look forward to.

    This weekends race should be something really special. I hope Jenson wins as it would be a fitting farewell to a special circuit. I've never been to Silverstone for an F1 race but have been there for the touring cars. That was a great experience.

    I'll be glued to the TV on Sunday. Can't make Saturday as I'm working :-( It'll be good to see your laps with Jenson & Lewis and now this spectacular balloon ride.

    Good luck to the whole crew for this weekends coverage and good luck too to Jenson & Lewis.

    Take care,

  • Comment number 9.

    I'm still laughing at EJ's quote: "I need breakfast, I've just been up in a balloon." Classic!

  • Comment number 10.

    Stop teasing us, Jake, let's see some photos of the circuit from the balloon?

  • Comment number 11.

    Yet another brilliant blog Jake.

    You've really got the knack for this stuff. Your stories and experiences make a lot of the fans here who read it feel very 'involved' - and that's a special ability.

    Can't wait for the weekend to begin, here's hoping some rain could spice up the race and help Lewis towards some points :-)

  • Comment number 12.

    Dossan in #1, there are no local host broadcasters anymore as all the races, except Monaco and Japan, are produced by Bernie Ecclestones' FOM TV. The details are on Wikipedia.

    I love the schoolboy enthusiasm Jake. That picture with the ketchup is another classic!!!

  • Comment number 13.

    Result! I knew the obsessive clicking on the RSS feed would eventually pay dividends, I've been waiting for a new blog all week!

    Sadly I am in New York, and haven't seen the BBC coverage since Malaysia. :( I'm telling you right now, SpeedTV could learn a thing or two from good old Aunty Beeb! And what's even worse is that Fox are showing the next three races, as they did the last one, and they're not on until 3pm here! Have you any idea how hard it is not to find out the results between waking and the middle of the afternoon?! Especially this weekend, the biggest F1 weekend for Brits.

    Rant over. I have a very good friend back home in Blighty who has committed all the races so far to the wonders of modern technology, and I shall feast on all the BBC coverage when I return in July.

    I cannot wait to see your hot air balloon escapades, nor your interview with poor Piquet Jr. whom I feel is having a rather torrid time in F1. I hope you get him to open up a bit so the fans can get to know him. Another excellent blog, Jake. Truly the highlight of my week. EJ is a man after my own heart; the first thing I shall do on my return is seek out a full English!

    I just know the BBC team will make this a weekend for the fans to remember. We all adore Silverstone, but I think you know that already.

  • Comment number 14.

    Cool Blog Jake,

    WOW! what a bizzare week for you Jake, but from reading that it sounds like you loved it!

    Looks like you all had a lot of fun in the hot-air balloon, loving the pics!
    The Full English Breakfast looks like the one I had a work lol and it looks tasty.

    It would be good to see the piece at the weekend and im so happy I do not have work.

    Enjoy the Weekend and I will be watching all the way!, and remember to take your camera lol

    Keep Up Fantastic Work!


  • Comment number 15.

    Brilliant stuff as usual! with all the glamour and money involved in F1 it's really great to hear about the day to day stuff that you all get up to. (like eating breakfast!) It just adds to the 'one of us' feeling we get from you and the team. EJ is such a laugh and it was a stroke of genius getting him on board. The BBC is doing a wonderful job with the F1 coverage, the 'non-race day' stuff adding brilliantly to the coverage all round. Any chance of getting Johnny Herbert around for some chat over the Silverstone weekend? He's always seems like a nice bloke.

    anyway, have fun over the weekend... I wish I could be there.

  • Comment number 16.

    A classic blog. EJ saying "I need breakfast, I've just been in a balloon" was quality and it sounded like a cracking start to the day.

    Not only do you get to present coverage of the final British GP at Silverstone, you also get to go up in a hot air balloon. If you weren't such a likeable guy I'd be extremely jealous!

  • Comment number 17.

    Loving this coverage Jake (and friends!).

    ITV's was always particularly soul destroying so Rosenthal and Ryder etc wouldn't have taken a lot of beating but the whole thing is done so well now. The level of interactivity has added a whole new dimension to it. Thanks guys, keep it up!

  • Comment number 18.

    More Excellent insights Jake, I do love reading the blogs!

    Looking forward to the weekend, can't make it to Silverstone unfortunately but hoping to get to Donnington Next year...

  • Comment number 19.

    Great blog. Will that EJ picture with the balloon make your F1 christmas card montage?

    Did you lose a sausage as well when you had breakfast? EJ seemed quite keen.

    It's great to see how you prepare the show. Keep up the great coverage.

  • Comment number 20.

    Hi Jake
    I live in Silverstone village and the Grand Prix weekend is always a great atmosphere - any chance you guys will be finding your way to the White Horse in the village to share the inside stories over a pint?

    I'm the one standing at the bar wearing a pink carnation and carrying a newspaper.....

  • Comment number 21.

    I won't see the opening as I'm off at 5:00am to Silverstone for qualifying itself, yes! Great blog per norm.

  • Comment number 22.

    Ahh Jake great pics the Air Balloon idea was great cannot wait to see it on the TV. Just picked up my tickest this afternoon, there all three days had to be done. Thanks to a lovely wife for the suprise. Looking forward to a great weekend, will catch up with the BBC commentory when I get back on Sunday Evening. Hope you have a cracking time mate, eveyone else to. Come oooon Jenson!

  • Comment number 23.

    "I need breakfast, I've just been up in a balloon" EJ is a legend!

    Enjoy the race weekend. I can't wait.

    Pink shirts at the ready everyone

  • Comment number 24.

    Yet another top notch blog Mr H! Thanks for taking the time to share your experiences...they do help widen the whole scene and bring a great perspective to your life in F1. What a job!

    Looking forward to hearing the next installment of your backstage shenanegins from the final (possibly?!) Silverstone F1 meet.

    Agree with Dossan's earlier post, could we see inside the trucks and the big old 'brand centres' at some stage please.

    Enjoy your weekend!

  • Comment number 25.

    Oh what a couple of weeks you have had, and now a hot air ballon ride with EJ as well. This is going to be a cracking weekend especially with all your filming in it as well.

    So so jealous

    Enjoy your weekend, can't wait for your next blog


  • Comment number 26.

    Excellent blog again Jake, im starting out at 5am on Friday morning for the weekend stay at SS. I cant wait for what will be an emotionally charged atmosphere and im so looking forward to the race. I know that i will be disapointed with the result ( im a McLaren fan so you know what i mean) but i suppose it would be a fitting end for SS if Jenson could do the business for Britain. I got my Sky+ box on record for Sat & Sun to re watch everything when i get back on Sun night. Have a good one and im looking forward to your blog afterwards.

    cheers Carl

  • Comment number 27.

    Just want to say that your blog is fantastic Jake! Keep it up!


  • Comment number 28.

    Another great blog entry Jake, and a very entertaining one at that! Really looking forward to the F1 this weekend, for a change I won't be working and therefore can see the race live. :) Hopefully it won't be the Silverstone procession we've seen in recent years (bar 2003 + 2008).

  • Comment number 29.

    I love the blog and the tweets. Thanks so much as it brings the GP events to life down here in NZ.

    I was in London while the turkish Gp as on and managed to catch the BBC coverage. we don't get any pre-race coverage in NZ. Any idea where I can watch that part online? It's an awsome show.



  • Comment number 30.

    Jake i want you job, lets hope the british drivers have a great weekend and Jensons dream season continues with another win. Looking forward to soaking up the atmosphere when i arrive at Silverstone late tomorrow night.

  • Comment number 31.

    Look its 9.01 on friday morning and one of the biggest stories to hit F1 has happend and all we have on this site is one piece and a phono ( from yesterday ) , considering the might of the BBC this is really not good enough.....sorry to rant but come on ........

  • Comment number 32.

    Hi Jake. Glad you enjoyed your balloon flight on thursday morning.
    I was the ground crew on that flight. EJ seems great fun to work with. You are doing a great job at presenting the lead up to each race and long may it continue. Im looking forward to the race as its my first time at the track along with my 10 year old son. Keep up the good work. Has Eddie finished eating yet.

  • Comment number 33.

    just watch the mosley interview,
    I thought your summaries were very good, even though max said a couple of times you have misunderstood me. I do not beleive you did, I think he did not listen to you, as he basically repeated your summary again. By the way you are an excellent interviewer
    How do I feel? I wish they would stop throwing their dummies out the pram and get on with the sport I love and not make a mockery of it. I am finding this time so sad, we should be celebrating Button and Brawn and not worring will there be a F1 championship this time next year )-:


  • Comment number 34.


    Fantastic blog as usual, what a great insight into the life of an F1 'pundit' :)

    Even more excellent interview, you asked all the right questions, in the right way, and made some good points to Max. It is such a shame that this row is overshadowing what has been the most exciting season for several years.

  • Comment number 35.

    Jake - definately met you on tuesday night, but, "security"?....if thats what you call watching your cousin holding up a security barrier, while you try to get him dristracted and dancing to calvin harris.

    amazing night, if a little bit odd to meet you there of all places?!

  • Comment number 36.

    I've just watched the Max Mosley interview......very very interesting. Man, I so glad we have you this year, keep up the great work we all appreciate it.

  • Comment number 37.

    Hey, Just seen the edited version of Jake's interview with Max. WOW Dynamite interview. Can't believe Max would call these people "loonies"! Way to go Jake! Keep up the good work!

  • Comment number 38.

    P.S My husband thinks David should have his own show!

  • Comment number 39.

    so, Max thinks the teams are loonies and Bernie thinks the drivers are stupid? No wonder the teams aren't happy with the governance of the sport! The teams can't get rid of Max, but surely the FIA must be losing confidence is his ability to handle them.

  • Comment number 40.

    I get paid by the BBC to say that Jake Humpreys is brilliant.

  • Comment number 41.

    Great blog jake, this feature is something that i never fail to miss. Like comment #1 i too would like to see a feature at some point in the future about how we get the great pictures each weekend from FOM, i would like to know how on earth they can not miss a single thing on the track... there would surley have to be hundreds of them???

    The BBC coverage has only improved over the course of the year... and even legard is becoming more bareable, although your 5 live comentators are supurb and if it wasn't for brundle i would switch to them.... i am sure i am not alone.

  • Comment number 42.

    Hi Jake,
    loving your blogs.

    On the preview of the British Grand Prix, the video montage does not include either John Watson (1981 winner for McLaren) or Johnny Herbert.

    I know John is at the British Grand Prix this weekend, please could you feature him in your interviews on Race day....the research for the "home" British GP winmners wasn't very thorough if these 2 drivers are forgotten about :-(


  • Comment number 43.

    Morning Jake
    Love hearing about all that goes on behind the scenes!!
    Looking forward to the opening of the show today....

  • Comment number 44.

    Morning Jake,

    Great blog. The breakfast looked very nice.

    Looking forward to the race and lets hope everythings sorted out for next years event.

  • Comment number 45.

    Just finished watching the silverstone GP coverage. Have to say, best coverage I have ever seen, and I've not missed a single race since 1968! ( well, just 2, honestly). I believe i've posted before to the effect that it's not too much of a surprise that EJ and DC are excellent, and of course MB is deservedly renowned, but I continue to be amazed by you, Jake, you make it look so easy, and of course its not at all!. You are consistently knowlegdeable, concise and entertaining throughout. Your interviews with Mosely and Ecclestone were masterpieces!. (I can forgive you for stepping out into the path of a car in the Istanbul pit lane..oops).
    I have been to silverstone loads of times, and this year I'm glad i stayed at home. The BBC coverage caught the drama, axcitement and sense of occasion just perfectly. Surely a bafta or two will be coming your way soon, if not, there's no justice.
    Iain McGregor

  • Comment number 46.

    jake, you lot were stars in the reasonably priced car on top gear, do you really think it was michael schumacher, or it that just a stunt?! surely one of you would have suspected if it was him after all!

  • Comment number 47.

    jake thort the whole show was brilliant you couldnt get some to find the music for the opening montage on silverstone

  • Comment number 48.

    On the eveof the British Grand Prix I watched BBC 4 excellent documentary on three legends of the Formula 1 stage,they were known as the three muskateers.Jim Clark Jackie Stewart and Graham Hill.No Bernie Ecclestone no Max Moseley motor racing was the name of the game winning was everything.Money was nice but getting their hands on the World Championship meant alot more.For Ken Tyrell and Colin Chapman we have Ross Brawn and Adrian Newey.This year will be played out by Brawn and Newey and to a certain extent the drivers will have a back seat although their importance should't be overlooked.The designers and technicians will be scratching their petrol heads to produce a car with the right balance the speed and reliability.Take Hamilton out of a competitive car.take Button out of a competitive car and take Vettel out of a competitive car and winning races is not an option.Schumacher may have been the exception to the rule perhaps but with rule changes weather conditions just like at Silverstone winners change.Vettel will have all Germany rooting for him at his home Grand Prix Red Bull are on a mission who said Button had it sewn up.Bernie knows you know he is a bit like that Ronaldo fella gives you a knowing wink dives under important questions likes being centre of attraction and commands a hefty sum.

  • Comment number 49.

    Hi Jake,

    Fantastic Blog as usual, you guys at the BBC are doing a fantastic job with the F1 coverage, it really does stand head and shoulders above everything else that has been done before (loving the red button facility for practice sessions and the forum)!

    Keep up the great work!

    Thank you

  • Comment number 50.

    During Sundays show you kept making comments about mclaren drivers working out in the simulator. Why is there still this big secret about this simulator, i worked on it 3- 4 years ago and i would have thought most teams would have built one like it by now.

    Yes it is an amazing piece of kit as i am sure David has told you, but i cannot believe ferrari have not got one by now. After all Kimi did use the mclaren one even if he did not like it. Or is it still that the teams know its there but don't know how it works.

    By the way great show glad to see it back on The BBC.

  • Comment number 51.

  • Comment number 52.

    Hi jake
    Great job your doing presenting the F1.
    Just wanted to tell you of a picture i have of you at silverstone on the track just before you went live, your looking up over to the grandstand waving at us and i have to say you have the most nervous smile on your face! Whenever myself and my six year old son look through our pics he always laughs at that one.
    To be honest i think he got more excited seeing you doing your pre race report than the drivers and the cars!

  • Comment number 53.

    Hi Jake, BBC did F1 fans a favour by securing the broadcasting from ITV, please do us another favour by leaving the programme. We need someone with more f1 PASSION - sorry mate but you show no passion for F1 whatsoever.
    Regards, Weejohn


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