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Jake Humphrey Q&A

The BBC Formula 1 team will be answering your questions in a new series for the website this year.

This week it's Jake Humphrey's turn to be put on the spot again as he answers your burning questions about his second season presenting F1.

Thank you for all your e-mails, a selection of which Jake answers below.

By Jake Humphrey
BBC F1 presenter in Istanbul, Turkey

We have seen you occasionally react to off-camera events such as cars whizzing down the pits while still being completely professional but are there any particular things that distract you?
Mike Smith, England

Eddie Jordan and David Coulthard
Jordan and Coulthard - the perfect distractions on race day

Well, it does take a fair bit to distract me, Mike, as I'm usually thinking about my next question, how long is left on the item, whether there is anything happening behind us that we should referene while listening to about seven voices in my ears as a V8 engine roars nearby.

However, even with all that going on it tends to be Eddie Jordan or David Coulthard's sometimes questionable fashion sense that gets my attention. White jeans, electric blue shirts, purple glasses, we've seen it all.

On a more serious note, I find my attention is grabbed when something unplanned starts to unfold, such as when I approached F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone in the paddock in China, while live, and he wandered off. Luckily Mercedes sports boss Norbert Haug was nearby to fill the void!

Your hair always has the same wet-look style. Do you use a particular product?
Phil, UK

Well, my hairdresser is forever trying to get me to buy the expensive stuff he uses in the salon Phil, but short, messy hair like mine just needs a bit of cheap wax and it's fine.

It's usually my face that has a 'wet look' style as we present F1 in such hot and humid locations. What you don't see is DC holding the mirror while EJ and I powder ourselves down, then we return the favour. The glamour of live sport broadcasting!

If you could drive in Formula 1 would you do it and which track would you want to drive around?
Douglas, Scotland

I think anyone who loves the sport would jump at the chance to drive in it Douglas, but the more you learn the more you realise how talented the drivers are.

Sharing a two-seater with DC was only a taster of what an F1 driver experiences but it still blew me away.

Fernando Alonso was driving me around in a Ferrari road car and was charm personified

The cars are so hostile, so lacking in creature comforts and so brutally fast that there is simply no way a normal guy like you or I would even complete a lap.

In MotoGP you can see the effort the riders are making but because the F1 boys are hidden away in the monocoque we'll never be able to convey the efforts on the body that they endure - shame!

I can't recommend a track day highly enough to anyone who just fancies a small taster of the brutality of a fast car and bit of asphalt. Give it a go and you will never look at Formula 1 in the same light again. To answer the second part of your question, the new Silverstone layout - it's cracking!

Who does most of the complaining, between you, Eddie Jordan and David Coulthard during grand prix weekends and what is their reason?
Anees, UK

We're all pretty complaint-free, Anees. Unlike some TV programmes, no prima donna-ish behaviour is accepted in the F1 production office.

DC makes tea for the team, I carry the cameraman's tripod, EJ, despite having a few quid in his pocket, stays with us in sometimes less that salubrious hotels.

If there is any moaning it comes from the fact that coming from the 'other side of the fence' the guys don't always understand the restrictions placed on us by the F1 teams at times.

We explain that we'd love every driver live with us before every session but quite often requests aren't met with a positive response from the teams, which is quite acceptable when you think that they're are 'in the zone' and primarily there to race not please the media.

Which driver has been your favourite to interview so far?
Rachel Watkinson, Essex, UK

I'm answering these in the departure lounge of Bologna Airport where I have spent the past couple of days down the road in Maranello, Rachel.

Fernando Alonso was driving me around in a Ferrari road car and was charm personified.

Lewis Hamilton
Hamilton is not always available for a chat with Jake

We'd love to interview every driver at each race but our requests can't always be accommodated - in fact, I've not interviewed Alonso at a single race since I began the job.

However, I found him to be incredibly charming, he smiled when he should and tried his best to please us, he clearly knows what the media want.

I can honestly say I have a good relationship with almost every driver. Some, such as Mark Webber or Jenson Button I'll say hello to at every race. Others such as Lewis Hamilton, Alonso or Michael Schumacher are a little more elusive at the track and you only see them briskly walking through the paddock!

I would be keen to know who decides on what you wear on air? My wife finds great amusement in the fact that you always look like you have chosen your outfits by randomly selecting a page in a men's catalogue. Does Harriet not vet what you wear?
Paul, UK

A catalogue!? I remember my Mum buying me catalogue clothes back in the 80's - they didn't fit well!

Anyway, regarding clothes for the F1 show it's tricky to find things that don't clash with EJ, and with 19 races a year that's 38 different tops and that's a lot!

I tend to wear jeans or trousers and a shirt. However, if I ever don't quite look the part, I'm more than happy for my wife to accept full responsibility.

Please remember I dress for each GP either in a portable loo provided in the TV compound or in our rather intimate office. The days of a make-up artist and a dresser are long gone, Paul, and I'm no fashionista!!

What's it like to hear all the engines roar on the track?
Filip, Croatia

It's amazing, Filip, no matter how often you hear it! I remember walking into the pit lane to make my way to the pit wall in China.

It was just as the race was coming to an end and I was with DC making our way to the post-race chat under the podium.

I'd watched the whole race in one of the hospitality areas but still when I made my way towards the track and Button roared down the pit straight it blew my socks off.

The speed, sound, spectacle that is F1 can never be truly represented on screen. If you've never been to a race then save your pennies and go. It should be cheaper for fans, but it's certainly worth the expense just once.

How different is your second season in F1 from your first?
Andy, Newcastle, UK

Like night and day, Andy. I was just thinking about how I was feeling 12 months ago and it's amazing how much has changed. March 2009 I was like the new kid at school at the Australian Grand Prix.

Jake Humphrey with model and actress Victoria Silvstedt
It's not all work, work, work - Jake with Victoria Silvstedt in Monte Carlo

Remember, I'd only met Eddie and David a couple of times and had hardly met any of the drivers and very few team bosses. Now I just feel so much more comfortable with everything and I'm actually starting to enjoy it.

Last year the production team were laughing at me because I never went out in the evenings, but it was because I was permanently petrified and was just desperate to do a good job.

I often think you get one chance to impress in a job as high-profile as this and I didn't want to waste my opportunity. I'm still just as keen to be the best I can but I also decided that I'd enjoy the 2010 season as well.

Of all F1 races prior to 2009, which one do you wish you were the presenter for and why?
Mike Fisher, UK

I think I'd opt for being either at the British Grand Prix when Nigel Mansell was in his pomp or when Lewis won the world title in 2008.

I come from a motorsport-mad family. My Grandad, John, loved Mansell and if I could turn back the clock, taking Grandad to Silverstone would be a real highlight.

More recently, I would have liked to be there when Lewis won in 2008. Sharing that moment 12 months later with Jenson was so emotional that I'd like to compare the two.

If you could make up a new rule, or change an existing rule in F1, what would it be and why?
Alan Bessim, England

I'd really like to see an independent body, not affiliated to any teams, helping to decide regulations.

While teams are quite rightly making calls and working away to be the best they can be and beat the opposition, it can often be at the expense of the entertainment.

If big technical regulations had to first pass the 'will it help improve the show' test then I'd love that as an F1 fan.

The technical and engineering excellence is commendable and seriously impressive but closer racing and more drama = more fans = a bigger sport = good news for everyone.

Obviously you have now been presenting the F1 for the last year. What did you used to do on a Sunday when you were back in the UK growing up watching the F1?
Matthew Macdonald, England

Well, it wasn't just as I was growing up, Matthew.

Until 2008, just 18 months ago, I was an F1 fan who only got close to the sport through my TV set having not been lucky enough to get to any races as a youngster. I think it's that fact, though, that I always think about when I prepare for a show.

My number one remit is bringing you guys closer to the action than ever before, whether it's via Twitter, blogs, or just getting into the garages and crouching next to the car on pole position.

I love being right in the heart of the action, talking to the main players and helping to build the tension before the race begins, and living up to the men who used to do that for me, such as Murray Walker or Steve Rider, is no easy feat.

You used to work in CBBC, do any of the skills that developed while working with children come in handy when EJ and DC get out of hand?
Ishaak Ugradar, England

They say never work with children or animals but no-one mentioned F1 stars, Ishaak!

I know Martin Brundle gets kicked in the shins on his grid walk by a Spanish reporter when he barges in; perhaps my legs are long enough to start employing that tactic when they get out of hand!

I actually find watching the two of them as fascinating as you guys seem to find it! Every time I leave the house someone asks me whether DC and EJ actually get on.

I proceeded to ask DC what he thought of the afternoon, meaning the race itself, and he launched into a critique of the BBC coverage!

The answer of course is yes; the way they act on air shows how comfortable they are with each other.

Every few races the three of us head to EJ's office, watch the past few races on TV and discuss what is good and what is bad. It helps to improve the show like nothing else.

As for the CBBC experience, well, I owe kids' TV everything.

Everyone needs somewhere to grow, hone their skills and learn their job without being in the full glare of something like live F1 coverage; that place for me was Children's BBC.

Just like Ant and Dec, Philip Schofield and Noel Edmonds, I'm a kids TV graduate who, on the surface was throwing gunge about the place, but more importantly was studying broadcasting in the best environment.

I've read a lot of your blogs where you give us an insight into your job behind the scenes and I am now considering as a future job becoming a sports reporter/presenter or even a cameraman for F1, my favourite sport bar football. As you have been a successful presenter for a long time, what do you think I should do to help me achieve my goal? I'm 16 and have a lot of passion but what else do you need?
Peter Holmes, England

Hi Peter, thanks for your question, I'm really glad you enjoy the blogs. I'd suggest the first thing you need to ask yourself is, do you have a passion for good TV?

If the answer to that is yes then you're halfway there. I wouldn't recommend becoming a TV presenter just because you want to be famous.

Secondly, what kind of TV interests you? If it's F1 then watch our coverage and try and work out what you'd do differently or better, make notes and develop your passion for F1 broadcasting.

Then speak to your local paper, even a free paper, and ask if they'll let you write a regular F1 race review.

My job is as much about writing, scripting and note-taking as it is presenting. Also, a stint on hospital radio which I did will also quickly help you realise if you are a natural broadcaster or not. I do think this job is one that people are either naturally at ease doing, or they find it hard.

If you've got some experience, think you're good at it and still fancy it, write to TV companies asking for some work experience. I have a stack of TV rejection letters at home from when I was 19 and 20, but keep the belief and you'll get there. Good luck!

You are a Norwich City Fan and I'm just wondering with your busy schedule how often do you get to see the Canaries and how do you think the Championship season will go?
Olly Sterry, UK

Unfortunately I don't make it back to Carrow Road half as often as I'd like to Olly, but when I do it reminds me why I love the Canaries.

Norwich fans celebrate promotion from League One
Spot the Jake...no, we can't see him at the promotion party either

There is something about supporting 'your club' that means despite a lack of success and some less than world-class players I really feel part of the club, and 25,000 fans at every home game means I'm not alone in having this uncontrollable passion I'll never lose.

I get home a few times a year as my whole family still live in the Fine City, and I'm an ambassador for a couple of local charities. As for on the pitch, I think we're play-off contenders next season, but then I would, wouldn't I?

For Turkey, would you please join in with DC and EJ's fabulous fashion sense and wear a pair of outrageous trousers and shirt combination. It would really make my day to see three grown men dressing like this.
Mr Chicken, England

You are a bad man, Mr Chicken. Trust me, seeing my legs in white jeans topped by a purple shirt and you'd be asking for a licence-fee refund!



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