Autocar meets the BBC's F1 anchor to hear his thoughts on the upcoming season
8 March 2010

Formula One coverage in the UK switched back to the BBC last season after a 12-year absence, where it was fronted by Jake Humphrey. Autocar recently caught up with Humphrey to hear his thoughts on the upcoming F1 season, including the return of Michael Schumacher and who he thinks will win the title.

Themes for the season

“As interesting as all of last year’s politics were, I think we’re all looking forward to some stability this year. F1 has never been stronger in terms of drivers, so it has to now capitalise on this. It will be interesting to see how the Jean Todt era at the FIA starts, too.

“F1 is going to have its green credentials questioned by the wider world soon and this is a subject the sport can really take the lead on, but isn’t doing yet. FOTA has shown really unity, and can continue to do so on issues like this.

“But the real success story is going to be Q3. Drivers will be running as light as possible, so the weight variant is going to be taken out and we’ll see some stunning lap times and battles at the end of qualifying sessions.”

See behind the scenes pictures from the BBC's 2009 coverage

Michael Schumacher’s comeback

“The real story before the season – and throughout the season - is Michael Schumacher’s comeback. If he wins the title, he will be known for beating the finest crop of drivers for decades, but he’s too tough and too experienced to be phased by any pressure.

“Ross Brawn told me that he had forgotten just how committed Michael was. He’s up for going up against this new crop of young and talented drivers for the first time.

“It’s going to be a real badge of honour for these guys if they beat Michael. If he’s wheel to wheel with Lewis or Vettel, who’s going to lift first? That’s going to be fascinating.”

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Lessons from last season

“The F1 2009 season will go down as an abnormality. We had the biggest rules changes for a decade and most of the grid struggled to deal with the double diffuser issue. The second half of the season – which Red Bull won – is the only place that can be relied on for looking at form going into this season.”

New teams

“Lotus and Virgin give F1 a moral high ground. They’re being run openly and on strict budgets and that’s important in showing the sport isn’t completely out of touch with reality.

“For any of the new teams to be on the grid is a great achievement. Lotus coming back is a real success story, too, although it will be working hard to ensure it can live up to its historic name.

“Lotus also has the benefit of two race-winning drivers in Jarno Trulli and Heikki Kovalainen. Heikki has a real point to prove after McLaren and Jarno has every right to feel he has earned a place at the front of the grid by now. His qualifying pace will be a real aid to the team in showing the car’s true pace."

McLaren’s British super-team

“McLaren wants to be constructors' champions again and it has got the last two world champions to help achieve that. I didn’t realise just how much a driver could galvanise a team, but Lewis Hamilton did just that at McLaren last year. Now he’s got Jenson to contend with, too.

“In F1, you’ve got to beat your team mate. And whichever McLaren driver does this has every chance of beating the likes of Schumacher, Vettel and Alonso, too. Jenson also can become Britain’s only ever back to back world champion – he has a chance to become a great.”

Who’s going to win the title?

“Sebastian Vettel has the chance to beat Schumacher and he wants to show people he’s the fastest German in the sport. F1 is experience driven and Vettel didn’t have the composure to win the title last year, but he would have learned lessons.

“He also has a more than able team mate in Mark Webber, who will also challenge for the title. The car is quick and if Vettel isn’t winning races, Webber will be. Both Red Bull drivers won races at the end of last season and will carry that high forward into this year.”

On his on-screen sidekicks David Coulthard and Eddie Jordan

“The real respect in Formula One is for the guys who’ve owned the teams – people respect Eddie and he gets us tremendous access. DC is a very knowledgeable guy, and one who’s been trained to give a certain type of answer.

“Eddie helps bring out his knowledge and the two of them bounce off each other. Just as Eddie helps get more out of DC, DC can also help bring Eddie back from the brink. F1 has been good to them and they’re certainly giving something back.”

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8 March 2010

Having spoken about Jake Humphrey in glowing terms at the beginning of last year, after seeing what a bright and well-informed anchor for the BBC team he was, I ended up feeling really disappointed by one aspect of his presenting.

In the recorded preamble sections, which were typified by this past Saturday's Championship review, his melodramatic, forced and hammy style, which might be appropriate in trying to engender excitement for a CBBC cartoon, made me wish for the return of Steve Rider.

I say this regretfully, as I'm still really impressed by the intelligence and effortless composure Jake displays during the live coverage, when overseeing the continuous spats between the wayward Eddie Jordan and the slightly stiff David Coulthard. It's a task that not many are up to.

I love seeing those bits, and they're made even more fun in the post-race Forum, which is a must for any genuine fan. In this supplementary programme, the excellent Martin Brundle joins the rest of the team, and what usually ensues is a verbal melee between Jordan, on one side, and MB and DC on the other.

The huge, festering fly in the ointment is the intolerable Jonathan Legard - how on Earth he remains at the BBC is beyond me, as he is pretty-much universally unpopular (to put it kindly) as an excuse for a commentator. He genuinely spoils the two hours of what should be the most thrilling event on television. Worse still, while we are lucky enough to have Brundle, who never fails to offer outstanding commentary, we have to suffer the loutish, ignorant, semi-autistic Legard constantly interrupting with his brutal, inane shouting. He took not one jot of notice last year, and I doubt he will this year. In fact, Brundle could quite easily commentate alone.

The presenting team during Practise on Friday and Saturday do a decent job, although the sometimes-chippy Anthony Davidson can irritate with his cockiness.

One last point is that none of us really needs our BBC Tax wasted on several articles of fluff prancing up and down the paddock being paid to Twit about the colours of the jumpers being worn by the drivers and other personages. In the puerile text coverage of the test sessions, these fashion-bunnies were clearly what most outlay was splurged upon, pardon the pun. Twitter is for teenage girls with no boyfriend; it isn't for adults.

This is an opportunity to air these views, not necessarily the place to speak generally about Formula One and the season ahead, so, while it may sound very negative in part, it's important to focus on a these crucial elements that have a huge effect on the enjoyment of the sport.

8 March 2010

I'll probaby live to regret this but I actually AGREE with VirginPower. I can't believe I'm saying this. I also happen to think he's a ringer........

As an aside, I have a mate who works for an independent global TV sports production company as a producer and they are messing around with the idea of getting a couple of drunk fellows who know a bit about football to commentate on a game, obviosuly it would need to go out after the watershed but I saw a 'pilot' and it was hilarious.

Might work as a digital feed in F1.........

8 March 2010

[quote Phillip McCavitie]Might work as a digital feed in F1,[/quote]

Well, I'll give you something to disagree with then, because that's precisely the sort of twaddle F1 doesn't need.

I'm sure that what you saw didn't make much difference to football, but leave the retards and drunks to their fruity sport, matey. We're having enough trouble getting rid of Legard at the moment.

8 March 2010

[quote VirginPower]We're having enough trouble getting rid of Legard at the moment.[/quote]

Back to my 'ringer' point, who is 'we' VP?

As for the digital feed thing, it didn't work before for F1 so I'd be churlish to say it would work now without massive tweaking. That said, the drunken footy feed is hilarious if you like that sort of thing.

8 March 2010

Shouldn't the BBC point out that there are other Motorsports out there?

This weekend saw WRC, IRC, WTCC and also Le Mans testing - not a jot on their website. Motorsport doesn't revolve around F1.

8 March 2010

[quote AndyRAC] Shouldn't the BBC point out that there are other Motorsports out there?


It does when you paid Bernie what they paid

[quote AndyRAC] This weekend saw WRC, IRC, WTCC and also Le Mans testing - not a jot on their website. Motorsport doesn't revolve around F1.[/quote]


I do think that David Croft would be a better foil for Martin Brundle and put JL on the practise and radio shows.

8 March 2010

I like Jonathan Legard's commentaries.

The biggest problem he and all others have is commentating on a TV feed.

Obviously Virgin Power has his axe to grind, hopefully he is not associated with Virgin Group and the Virgin Racing team and is purely representing himself but he doesn't answer the question.

8 March 2010

[quote trocadero] I like Jonathan Legard's commentaries. [/quote]

They are not as bad as some make out and don't justify the vitriol and hatred written on other threads. He's much better than James Allen was on ITV.

Whoever does it seems to suffer for not being Murray, which is daft, loads of peeople moaned about Dear old Murray!

8 March 2010

Captain Kirk`s going to come back and phase Schumacher is he? The word you want is faze. You`re getting paid to write English; try using your brain instead of spellchecker.

8 March 2010

[quote Phillip McCavitie]Back to my 'ringer' point, who is 'we' VP?[/quote]

It's James Allen. He want his old job back hence he's trying to start a hate campaigne against Jonathan Legard.


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