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Page last updated at 11:58 GMT, Wednesday, 16 September 2009 12:58 UK
Interview: Jake Humphrey talks F1

Jake Humphrey talks about F1 on the BBC, the race season and his career

Jake Humphrey is sitting in pole-position, having landed one of the most coveted jobs in sports broadcasting.

The 30-year-old, from Norwich, will present the BBC's coverage of the 2009 Formula One (F1) Championship.

"Of course it's a dream, but my focus now is about doing a good job. I'm following on from the Colemans and the Lynhams - he's my era," said Jake.

Jake will anchor the BBC's coverage, with David Coulthard and Eddie Jordan providing expert analysis.

"I'm very excited, but I feel the pressure as well. It's all about doing a brilliant job for me," said Jake.

"They said they'd like to offer me the job and I said I'd be delighted to accept - and then I was told to keep it top secret and that was the hardest thing in the world!

"How can you tell someone the greatest news they've ever heard and then say, 'Don't tell anyone'.

"The thing about this job is - it's just a job. There will be people thinking, 'You lucky so and so'. Of course it's a dream, but my focus now is about doing as good a job as Steve Rider and carrying on the BBC Sport standard."

The Stig

The Stig and Jake on the Top Gear racetrack

Joining the BBC's F1 team has come with a number of perks.

Not only do you get to see one of the world's finest competitions, but you get to hang-out with elite sportsmen and you get to travel the globe.

But little did Jake know that the F1 gig would give him a golden ticket to the Top Gear race-track and a day with the Stig.

"I've always wanted to race the Top Gear track for the show, but it was fantastic doing it for a special grand prix edition of Top Gear Magazine," said Jake.

"I still have no idea who the Stig is because he refused to speak about anything but the driving and outside of the car - he didn't even speak at all!

"I was the fastest of the BBC F1 commentary team on the day, but tellingly David Coulthard and Martin Brundle weren't there.

"I'd love the Top Gear bosses to get us all down to the track. I think DC and Martin would be close, with me just a couple of seconds ahead!"

F1 hot-seat

When Jake was announced as the presenter of BBC's Formula 1 coverage, it wasn't without criticism.

On fan sites and messageboards questions were asked about the appointment of a former kids' TV presenter in the F1 hot-seat.

"The first thing you must do is not let it get you down. In some way, part of me thinks it's only natural. I've been on children's television before and people will think, 'Kids' TV to Formula One, how does that work?'

Holly Willoughby and Jake Humphrey in CBBC at the Fame Academy

1995: EDP paperboy
1998: Rapture TV, Norwich and part-time waiter at Forte Posthouse
2000: Moved to London, presenting daily live sports show for TWI
2001: Joins CBBC presenting in 'the Broom Cupboard'
2001-2007: Various shows for CBBC including Fame Academy, BAMZOOKi, Rule the School, Newsround and Sportsround
2007: Move to BBC Sport presenting Football Focus, Match of The Day, Final Score
2008: Superbowl, African Cup of Nations, Beijing Olympics, Euro 2008 and co-host of BBC Sports Personality of the Year
2009: Main presenter of the BBC's Formula One Championship coverage

"I wasn't a CBBC presenter - I was a broadcaster who at 21 was too young to get a job anywhere else.

"The way I look at it, being a CBBC presenter is like being a racing driver starting in the small formulas and building up.

"Nobody said Lewis Hamilton shouldn't be an F1 driver because he was a GP2 driver. It's the same as saying I shouldn't be in Formula One because I'm a CBBC presenter.

"All I would say to people is see my time at CBBC as preparing for this.

"If I was doing Formula One nine years ago when I started at CBBC - fair enough, tell me that I wasn't ready for it - but I'm absolutely ready for it now. If I hadn't been, I wouldn't have been offered it.

"I've seen very little written about me negatively, but to be honest when a minority criticise me in a blog etc. I think to myself that if I saw some bloke being paid to travel the world, host TV shows, follow the F1 circus and do something most people can only dream of - I'd probably write something nasty about them, in a fit of jealousy, too."


After a few years working at CBBC, the show Sportsround was commissioned. With it came the opportunity for Jake to share his love of sport with an ever growing fan-base.

"I'd badgered the CBBC bosses for a sports show for years," said Jake.

"I'm a passionate supporter of public service broadcasting and I've always though that it was our responsibility to get young people involved with sport, but I didn't really see it at the time as a chance to move to BBC Sport.

Top F1 driver Sebastien Vettel explains the 2009 rule changes

"I always think if you do a good job, work hard and have a little bit of luck, you'll get your rewards.

"Eventually that came my way with a chance to host Football Focus, but I think that without Sportsround the move from kids to sport would have been much harder."

Norwich life

Jake was born in Peterborough, but moved to Norfolk with his family when he was nine.

He still thinks of Stoke Holy Cross on the outskirts of Norwich as 'home' and comes back to Norfolk to visit his parents, Rex and Liz, as much as his schedule allows.

A former student from Framingham Earl High School, it was during his A-levels at the Hewett School, in Cecil Road, that the opportunity to work in television first came to light after a teacher asked if anyone was interested in becoming involved with a local TV channel.

Jake's career began at Norwich-based Anglia TV, where he started out as a runner before working his way across various productions and through the ranks to become a researcher.

After he ended up presenting by accident, Jake was advised to make a showreel which led to him hosting a live daily sports show for TWI and, eventually, to CBBC where he spent six years before joining BBC Sport.


Every race and qualifying session will be shown live on BBC One, with the exception of qualifying for the Brazilian Grand Prix on 17 October, 2009, which will be shown on BBC Two
The Red Button will offer a split-screen option that will incorporate the main network feed, in-car camera, the latest leaderboard and a rolling highlights feed
Extensive coverage on Radio 5 including live commentary and the Chequered Flag podcast featuring interviews with all the main players and in-depth analysis
New features on the BBC Sport website include video race reviews by Murray Walker, interactive circuit guides and comprehensive results and statistics
The BBC mobile offering includes latest news, results and standings, with live text coverage of all race sessions

Although Jake's love of Norwich City FC claims his heart, with just enough room left for his wife Harriet, he's always been a motor-racing fan - growing up a stones throw from the Snetterton circuit and Lotus' test track at Hethel.

A love of cars also runs in the family, his uncle was a stock-car champion.

The Hamilton double

On the question of the Hamilton double, he feels the reigning champion has a tough season ahead.

"I think there are two very distinct schools of thought on how Lewis is going to do," said Jake.

"Obviously having won the world title he'll go out there and attack the races in the way only he can, but only eight people have ever been able to defend their Formula One world title.

"It's only been done 14 times before and with new regulations and a totally different car it's going to be tough for Lewis, really tough - but I think if anyone can, he probably can."

The Formula One Championship season 2009 started on Friday, 27 March. Read the latest from Jake in his F1 blog.

In pictures: Lotus F1 drivers
13 Nov 09 |  History
Formula One creates jobs at Lotus
16 Sep 09 |  People & Places
In Pictures: Jake and the Stig
24 Mar 09 |  TV & Radio
Hamilton hits out at rule changes
20 Mar 09 |  Formula 1
F1 on the BBC
01 Dec 11 |  Formula 1


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