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Let's celebrate a great British Grand Prix

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Jake Humphrey | 11:05 UK time, Monday, 2 July 2012

I must confess, at the start of the year I wasn't sure what to expect from Formula 1 in 2012. The question for me was: how could a sport that has enthralled us so much in recent seasons deliver again - while at the same time hold its own in a year so packed with stunning sporting spectacles?

We've had the European Football Championship, now followed swiftly by Wimbledon and then almost immediately the London Olympics will be upon us. It's a veritable feast for those sports lovers keen to sit down on the sofa in June and not get up again until late August (if I wasn't working I'd be one of them!).

Among such sporting riches I wondered just how F1 would make its voice heard. Well, here we are, almost at the midway point of the season and it seems I needn't have worried.

Due to the fact that my brain has probably only a hundredth of the power of Adrian Newey's and works at roughly a tenth of the speed of Sebastian Vettel's, there are many things I still can't work out about this sport. One of them: just how does it manage to keep on delivering storylines that even Brookside in its heyday would have been proud of?!

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Jake and the team arrive in Silverstone last year.

Since the BBC team and I got involved it's been one drama after another. In 2009 alone we had the Brawn GP 'phoenix-from-the-flames' act, Felipe Massa's nasty accident in Hungary and then Jenson keeping us all guessing until we got to Brazil.

2010 then delivered arguably the most competitive season the sport has ever seen with five drivers in with a shout of the title, and the least fancied of the lot eventually winning it.

Meanwhile, last year was all about the record-breaking domination of our back-to-back champion, as Seb found his feet in the sport - and his place in the history books - with the most amazing performances week after week that all of us, bar Mark Webber, just watched in awe.

And then 2012 arrived. The year of the Union Flag. The year we all celebrate being British, and the Queen being on the throne almost as long as this sport has existed. The year that Wayne Rooney and England would chase glory in the east of Europe, while the likes of Chris Hoy and Usain Bolt would do the same in the east of London.

And among the flotillas, the flypast and the flag waving, Formula 1's job was to remind the British public that if you want to celebrate Britain, then celebrate this sport!

In an age of low profits and high anxiety, it's only natural that we lean on the things we know and trust, and we should include Formula 1 in that bracket. To most of us, it's always been here.

We should not only celebrate it because it employs thousands and contributes millions to the British economy each year. We shouldn't just feel pride because eight of the current teams are based on these shores, or that this was the country where Formula 1 actually began - but because in times like this, what we need is a bit of escapism, something to entertain us. And this sport is currently doing both.

And best of all, this weekend it's the British Grand Prix!

I have incredibly fond memories of this race, and we always try to find a way on the show to tell the story of you, the F1 fans, who attend in your thousands. And whether it's chants of 'BBC' from the grandstand or 'Eddie, Eddie, Eddie' as the crowds gather round us in our pre-show build-up, we appreciate the support you've shown us over the years.

Having arrived on a three-man tandem bike and hovered overhead in a helicopter in the past, we've decided on a quintessentially British, extrovert way of arriving for this year's grand prix. If you're there on the Thursday you won't miss us! I suggest that sometime late-morning you look to the skies and give us a wave... that's all I'm saying.

However, it's the drivers who will again provide the real entertainment this year. And after the British fans braved the rain of 2011 and despite there being no British winner since 2008, I truly hope that this year is a race to remember. As well as a grand prix that lives up to the high standards this season has set.

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Will 2012 match up to Mansell's classic win in 1986?

If Valencia is anything to go by then it looks like Silverstone will be a cracker. We won't have the sweltering conditions that some races have given us, but with another mixed-up grid full of mixed-up strategies, once again I hope it will have us guessing until the very end.

And we're also at a crucial stage of the season as far as the title is concerned. Can Fernando Alonso now string some success together and build a championship lead? Meanwhile Mark Webber can really show what consistency can do. If Lotus really harbour title aspirations then now is the time to start turning pace into wins, and what kind of form will Michael be in now he's bagged his first podium since 2006?

And that leaves the three lions. Paul Di Resta continues to show flashes of brilliance and stunning raw speed - surely it's just a matter of time until he makes a move to a big team. But he's also got the likes of Sergio Perez and Romain Grosjean battling for the crown of top rookie.

Is Jenson going to be cut adrift after struggling on Saturdays and having to fight for scraps in recent races? And as for Lewis, he may well arrive at Silverstone like a bear with a sore head after the way his Valencia race ended, but I predict he will make it British Grand Prix win number two on Sunday.

So, if you can't make it to the race then don't take down your Jubilee bunting and put the fizz back under the stairs just yet. Chill a bottle, settle down in front of the TV and watch a British love affair unfold that is every bit as special as we've seen so far this summer.

And if you are coming to the race, then make sure you bring that Union Flag. This feels like a year that we've fallen in love with being British again, so as the world tunes in to see what Northamptonshire has to offer on Sunday, let's help make it a race to remember.

And after the race, head to Luffield for the grand prix party, as we're hosting the F1 Forum live on stage and we want you to be part of the show.


  • Comment number 1.

    JB to win, Alonso 2nd, Lewis 3rd

  • Comment number 2.

    Hi Jake

    My boyfriend and I are heading to the grand prix this weekend and are camping at Woodlands - you can't miss us as we will be staying in an authentic 1950s airstream trailer so we should create quite an interest at the campsite. The airstream has been beautifully restored and really had to be seen - please come and say hi and have a look round!


  • Comment number 3.

    Can't believe that this clashes terribly with my son's birthday and football tournament on race day. Surely he won't hold it against me forever?

  • Comment number 4.

    I'm so looking forward to this race.

    Team Lewis all the way, let's hope he can do it this time, us British need a win this year

    Come on Maclaren you can do it..........

  • Comment number 5.

    Great to see your blog back Jake, it's always worth looking forward to.

    I've been impressed with your coverage this year (live races only - the highlight shows are pointless in my view) and it should be taken as a compliment that for the Canada and Europe races, a certain satellite broadcaster copied your features from the 2011 Canadian and European GP shows. Somehow their coverage doesn't seem entertaining with jokes appearing over engineered.

    Not to mention that they've used BBC talent and copied the BBC's revolutionary presentation format. It's just a shame that the BBC saw fit to hand F1 to this broadcaster on a silver platter in the first place, despite Channel 4 making a bid for the full rights. ;-)

    It's also nice that the BBC's F1 presenter doesn't think it appropriate to laugh and joke about the tragic death of a member of a Royal family, especially given he was a guest of the Royal family at the time.

    We've also seen the Daily Mail article about that same presenter's apparent antics on the flight home. I find it hard to believe that if you'd engaged in similar conduct you'd not have been sacked by your employers.

    A suggestion I'd make is to give Gary Anderson the means to explain the technical aspects of F1 in a way that's easy to understand. Sky have the "Sky Pad" and their amazing CGI graphics on the F1 Show yet poor Gary is left to explain things verbally to viewers. Couldn't you have some sort of split screen overlay to help viewers understand what he's talking about?

    Similarly it would be good to see Ben Edwards build his on-screen presence. I only recall seeing him during the forum (Singpore I believe), it would be great if he could contribute to the pre/post race analysis.

  • Comment number 6.

    I'm really hoping Alonso can repeat his success from Valencia and last years British Grand Prix to make it 3 wins so far this season. Go Alonso!!!

  • Comment number 7.

    Its worth is more than millions. In its entirety, motor racing engineering, research and product manufacture (of which the pinnacle is F1) is worth around £7bn a year to the UK economy).

  • Comment number 8.

    @3 Dont worry they get over things quickly when they're young!

  • Comment number 9.

    Is it me or are you becoming even more self indulgent than normal, Jake?
    You may think this is a great time to be British with your fat BBC contract and endless work schedule but for a lot of Britons it's pretty tough out there.
    Waving a Union Jack at a sporting event like the Olympics, which has cost this country something in the region of £11 billion does not make me feel happy, nor does the tax payer having to spend £32 million on the Royal Family.
    This country needs economic growth, a significant reduction in unemployment and a government and political system true to the needs of it's own people rather than supporting an age old institution not longer fit for purpose.
    So please just keep future blogs connected to the sport you are supposed to be presenting and not wider political issues.
    Also, I've watched F1 for nearly twenty years and attended many Grand Prix around the world in all conditions and do not need to be patronised by a former children's tv presenter about how important the regular fan is to F1.

  • Comment number 10.

    A great season, just a shame most of us haven't seen most of it thanks to the half wits like Barbara Slater and co at BBC. But nonetheless, the BBC team are brilliantm with the Sky team simply diabolical. God knows why Martin Brundle went there (£££) - he must feel totally out of his depths with such awful coverage.

    Big congratulations on the addition of Gary Anderson, a brilliant signing - how Ted Kravitz (who knows nothing about what he's talking about) had the job before him is beyond me.

  • Comment number 11.

    Why are people sucking up to the Beeb? They offered the rights for sale, so they can make more 'talent'(less) shows and as for Mr Anderson...suggesting that McLaren should redesign the car to suit Jensen...because he can't adapt his driving style to the current car, ridiculous, adapt and survive Mr Button. The best drivers seem to be able to do it.

    Having said that, I am looking forward to this weekends racing, should be very interesting.

  • Comment number 12.


    It's not Jake's fault we have half coverage and people who see the coverage from the other station are extremely thankful we have Jake and co.

    Ben and Gary are great additions to the coverage this year. Hopefully we can get it all back on the BBC again soon were everybody can see full coverage instead of a select few.

  • Comment number 13.

    Sadly this will be the first time in a long time i will not be visiting Silverstone to watch the race, you see Jake and the BBC since you shafted the loyal formula 1 fans of the UK by selling out to SLY I have had to take a subscription to be able to watch the races live.

  • Comment number 14.

    @12 I appreciate that many people will be hoping to get full coverage back on the BBC, myself included, even though I actually quite enjoy the coverage on the satellite, GP2, GP3, FP1,2 and 3 etc. But I can't see it happening...the corporations pockets are getting smaller and smaller and the cost of buying rights is getting larger and larger. Unless they double the license fee or stop making dross to do a ratings battle with the other side, it is never going to change.

  • Comment number 15.

    Lets hope the maclaren updates make them more competative,the new perelli compounds may throw a spanner in the works here?

    The chances are it will rain.... so it all looking to be another crazy race!

    Enjoy the new race facilities this year and organiser can help the disabled by using golf carts this year!...this is what they are for ..right?

    Predictions are looking good

    JB to win, Alonso 2nd, Lewis 3rd

  • Comment number 16.

    I hope Wimbledon Finals Day and the GP clashing is solely due to the diktat of London 2012.

    Poor poor scheduling if not.

  • Comment number 17.

    Wimbledon?...what's Wimbledon? ;)

  • Comment number 18.

    someone to win, someone else to come 2nd and SHOCK! someone else to come 3rd

  • Comment number 19.

    I'm going for a Lewis win - driving through the rain over the finishing line, water spraying out to the sides...... :-)

  • Comment number 20.

    Looking forward to a great weekend of sport - can't help hoping there's so much rain at Wimbledon that the final gets delayed until Monday as there's no way I'm missing the British GP! (C'mon Lewis...)

    I love the BBC coverage - though, yes it's tough when it's highlights only races (hardly Jake's fault guys). So here's to lovely full-on live British Grand Prix with the beeb & team hopefully pushing the boat out to celebrate!

    I particularly enjoy the Forum - it feels like you're being invited backstage & you're somehow a part of it. Sky (hss!) may have copied your style, but the don't come close - the BBC retains a freshness, an unforced glee at the thought that they're allowed to do this as a 'job' when they'd almost do it for free. Great insights, team contacts & free-form flow of it all feels relaxed & fun (tho I've no doubt about the frenzy of swans legs kicking underneath the surface) & the ever-present potential for unpredictable chaos/brilliance from Eddie & co means that it stays spontaneous (& often hilarious). So nice to see 'Live' television that really feels live & not over-produced. I think the best description I can think of is that it feels like telly made by people who are just making something they'd want to watch, and somehow are getting a way with it because only their friends are watching.

    So here's to Silverstone & flying the flag (yah boo sucks to the miseryguts). If you can't so it then, when can you? (Ah alright this year, pretty much any weekend through the summer, but anyway). We'll be right there with you Jake, in spirit if not in person. So say hi - we'll be watching. Come rain or shine...

  • Comment number 21.

    Dear BBC F1 Team,

    My husband and I got married a week ago on 2nd June 2012, and we will be coming to the British Grand Prix in Silverstone for our honeymoon. Our first date was in 2004 at the British Grand Prix. Jake has been a huge Michael Schumacher fan since 1994 and I have followed suit, however being a Brit, I support Lewis Hamilton!!!

    We have even got our friends and family into it now!! Everyone is coming on our honeymoon this year!!!

    Would there be absolutely any chance that Jake and I could visit the paddock over the weekend of the British Grand Prix. This would be a dream come true and would put the cherry on the cake of our already special 2012.

    Look forward to hearing back from you.

    Charlotte & Jake! Mr & Mrs Davis [Personal details removed by Moderator]

  • Comment number 22.

    @3 ignore @8 - believe me, they don't get over it...
    My two sons would never forgive me in that situation (I coach their baseball team here in Canada).
    tivo the race and ban all sports coverage until after your kid's soccer match and birthday celebration.
    JB to win, Alonso 2nd, Michael the dark horse.

  • Comment number 23.

    @9 we are quite happy here in Canada to have a queen who only costs 32 million GBP (and even less to us), compared to electing a president every four years (at a cost of over $1 Billion dollars in the US). Long may she reign - and good luck to Chuck....
    Maybe Kimi has a chance

  • Comment number 24.

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

  • Comment number 25.

    Schumacher to win as I have been following him throughout my entire life and to see him win his 92nd grand prix would be the best moment for me, but if the Mercedes once again fails to finish (again) I want to see the return of Button to the top step of the podium so he can turn his season around and go for the title

  • Comment number 26.

    yes it seems like everyone is finally keen to say that we're british and that we're good this year! its been really good seeing the Union jack flying everwhere. what we need now is for Jenson Button to win the British GP - a british driver winning the british gp. come on JB!!!

  • Comment number 27.


    Cheer up...if you don't like British tradition then move elsewhere.

    Anyway great blog Jake, as usual. Does anyone know how long McLaren's contract with Button is? If he keeps underperforming surely he can't stay there much longer.

  • Comment number 28.

    In response to comment 5:

    Wow! Never knew the controversy surrounding Sky's Monaco GP coverage! Couldn't ever imagine the BBC stooping to such desperate levels. Sky aren't doing disastrously but with all that money it's laughable how they can't get close to the BBC's coverage from the past 3 years. Them trying to replicate on screen chemistry (ie there "let's all get an ice cream!" moment) is cringing and just cold and stiff. Hope Martin is enjoying entertaining literally just thousands of viewers.

    As for Jake - congratulations on a truly marvellous run of Grand Prix productions this year. I thought the BBC would really struggle after Barbara Slater sold the fans and the license payers down the crapper but you've made the most out of a difficult situation. And whoever decided to bring in Gary Anderson should be given a pat on the back. He is fantastic. Who needs fancy graphics when all you need is bright intellect and a pen and a pad of paper?!

    It's a small but dedicated and more importantly knowledgeable team you are a part of and you should be so proud.

  • Comment number 29.

    Hi Jake, David and Eddie,

    My husband and I will be at the British Grand prix for our honeymoon this weekend!! We had our first date in 2004, at Silverstone.. We are huge F1 fans and have managed to drag the whole family and friend along..
    We are staying Whittlebury campsite on the Pavillion plots.. please come along for a drink in our beer tent.
    Is there any chance we could come into the paddock during the weekend.. it would be the cherry on the cake for our amazing year already.. We only got married 4 weeks ago..

    Looking forward to the grand prix.. Lewis or Schuey to win!!

    Best wishes, Charlotte and Jake

  • Comment number 30.

    Thanks to the BBC for removing my earlier post for being off topic.
    My comments may have been off topic but no more so than the debate about Sky/BBC on previous blogs.
    I'm glad to see censorship is still live and licking in the BBC and my hard earned licence fee is paying for it.
    Predictions for the weekend are 1) Vettel 2) Hamilton 3) Alonso. Good luck to Lewis and Jenson and I hope that Maria DeVillota makes a speedy recovery. My thoughts are with her and her family at this awful time.

  • Comment number 31.

    hi jake and the team,have been watching f1 for over forty years now,have been to DOZEN BRITISH GP and love every min of it,your coverage over the last few seasons has also brought my son back to the sport and the forum is the best...hope to see you at the weekend and lets hope for a british win

  • Comment number 32.

    Us yanks never knew what we were missing. F1 coverage in this country would have to improve to attain the level of abysmal. I was able to get the BBC feed starting around 2 years ago and that has raised my enthusiasm for the sport tremendously. The behind the scenes access as well as the race coverage are without parallel. I have learned more about the teams and technology in the last 2 years than I had known in the previous 15 years of watching the U.S. based coverage. Hats off to the finest coverage of F1 anywhere! I have also seen the UK's other competing coverage (in Dolby 5.1!) but there is nowhere near the level of on-air chemistry and inside the paddock interviews that the BBC offers. Someday, I hope to see the British GP in person, but until then I will be faithfully watching every race that BBC covers. Fantastic job, all of you! Oh yeah, 1-Hamilton, 2-Vettel,

  • Comment number 33.

    Must admit I'm surprised at the dull Sky coverage, Is anyone watching the F1 Show? Why is the mad pixie still their in her high heels telling us how she managed to walk the pit lane in them. Just get a pair of trainers love, and ask Lee McKenzie how to do the job - With all their money they just copied the Beeb with a third rate copy of Jake and dug up Johnny H and D Hill, who I like, but on camera are both like watching paint dry. How can they managed to make a fast sport seem boring!

    I watch Sky when the Beebs not live, and can't wait for the bbc highlights in the evening, it's like watching a totally different race. What are you doing Martin? And Joy O'Joy when The Chain starts up just after lunch on a Sunday, good days are here again. Thought it funny at Monaco on the Red Bull barge when the Sky team were at one end in they thought the prime position, but when the interviews started, their they were just behind Jake, DC and Eddie. I think that confirms who the No. 1 F1 broadcaster is.

    BTW does it seem to anyone else that Drivers and Team folk seem at ease when talking to Jake and co, but a bit unease when on Sky?

  • Comment number 34.

    Jake: "We shouldn't just feel pride because eight of the current teams are based on these shores, or that this was the country where Formula 1 actually began"

    I was under the impression that Formula 1 began in Turin in 1946 (that is where the first race was). It is the World Championship that began in England (in 1950).


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