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BBC changes F1 presenter with an eye on the 2012 Olympics
BBC changes F1 presenter with an eye on the 2012 Olympics
Posted By: James Allen  |  04 Aug 2010   |  11:26 pm GMT  |  170 comments

I notice that the BBC has announced that its F1 presenter Jake Humphrey, will not be at the Japanese Grand Prix this year as he will presenting the BBC’s coverage of the Commonwealth Games in India.

So the BBC will turn to pit reporter Lee McKenzie to anchor the show. This is a good news story in that it allows people to write “First Female F1 presenter” headlines and although I’m delighted for her, I resisted the temptation in this case because there is a more interesting angle than that for me.

Humphrey has been a revelation in the anchor role on the BBC. The coverage for the most part has been really very good this last 18 months and he has been at the centre of most of the good stuff.

I met up with him shortly before his debut in 2009 and got the clear impression that he had the right idea – he wasn’t going to try to be a know-all about the sport from day 1. This is a complex sport and it is incredibly easy to come unstuck, as various non-specialists who have picked up a live microphone have proved.

But this Japan GP move has nothing to do with McKenzie breaking through glass ceilings and everything to do with Humphrey being groomed for a central role in the London 2012 Olympics coverage.

The London Olympics is about as big a project as BBC Sport could ever envisage and Humphrey’s easy manner, quick mastery of a new subject and above all ambition, will translate to the games perfectly. You can almost hear the penny dropping among BBC Sport execs that here is the guy to anchor the most important event they will probably ever do, short of a World Cup football finals.

I began to wonder when he started tweeting about visiting the Olympic stadium building site in Stratford a few months ago.

But his response on Twitter today to the announcement about Suzuka sealed it for me.

“I’m keen to do the CWG (Commonwealth Games) with one eye on London 2012. F1 is still my No.1, my priority and my passion. Hope you understand!” he tweeted this afternoon.

“I turned down the World Cup to remain loyal to F1…”

I may be wrong but I don’t see him hosting F1 for ever. People for whom F1 is not a passion soon find that the travel gets them and their family down quite quickly.

But also, knowing a little of how broadcasting careers work, he has used the F1 role to cement his position among the leading sports presenters in the UK. But it’s not the be all and end all and there are other horizons. BBC’s main sports presenters are mostly quite old and tired and Humphrey must see a virtually open goal in front of him.

Once the 2012 Olympics kicks in he will probably be the BBC’s Number One and in that scenario the F1 department could well be looking for another presenter, which would be a shame because I think he does it really well.

And no, please don’t send in comments about me angling for the role, because I’m not. This site covers a wind range of topics and TV needs to feature occasionally, that’s all.

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Murray brought an uncanny accurate history of F1 and James clearly did a lot of preparation and brought a lot of insights during the broadcast (esp. during the Schumi-Ferrari yawn fest).

I predict Jake will be there for years to come. In his earlier blogs, he mentioned that he was passionate about F1. Not to mention that the CWG and Olympics are 2 weeks each every 4 years??

Hope Lee does well but my vote would have been for Ted!


Jake Humphrey is a breath of fresh air hosting F1, if the Beeb are looking to shift a presenter over to the Olympics why not try the ever annoying Eddie Jordan, he could let us all know (whilst wearing one of those shirts) that athletes had more to contend with ‘in his day’ and all this shoe technology is ruining the purity of the sport. Maybe David Coulthard, who better to appreciate and sympathise with Britain finishing 4th behind the US, Russia and China as an also ran, he made a career out of that position. Whilst Eddie and David concentrate on the Olympics bring in Eddie Irvine he’ll put a few people straight in the paddock without the need for sucking up to ‘old friends’. Irvine may be a little harsh at times but who wouldn’t want to see him giving Shuey some more stick.


i wonder if lee knows how to say anything other than…

“just tell us what happened?”


The racing series is what’s important.I’ll put up with whoever’s constant barrage of words in order to see MY sport.Jake does as well as could be expected filling Walker’s shoes.

James is the best,and I’m curious about Mr. Rider now,he must be really good to get such a ringing endorsement from JA.Bet Bob Varsha ranks highly with Mr Allen,even though they did not share the booth back in 1993.And what a memorable year that was-we finally got over not having John Bisignano because of you!

Here’s who deserves a chance as pit reporter for the beeb:Victoria of “FormulaOneFancast” on You Tube.So infectious.James please look into this treasure from the UK,she has no female equal on your side of the Atlantic(I only say that because of Krista Voda)and would do a better job of that gridwalk than anyone except…why you,of course,Mr Allen!


I thought Charlie Webster made a cracking job of the GP2 coverage when it was on ITV4. Would be more than happy to see her presenting F1.


Jake = great. A touch of Top Gear ‘laddishness’ tempered by a good attitude and sense.

Brundle = absolute legend. Love him to pieces, always insightful. I’m just not keen on the open shirt gold necklace combo as it reminds me of my dad!

Crofty and Davidson = the practice sessions are always a great show and it would be great to hear these guys during the race. Also, Chandhok was superb!

Lee McKenzie = I’ll reserve full judgement till after the full show but can she please stop starting every single interview with the negative approach of “Tell us, what went wrong?” / “A terrible day for you today?” / etc. There is a way of sounding positive whilst at the same time empathising with a driver.

Good work JA!


And speaking of “studio” presenters, there are two female “studio” presenters in saloon-car/truck events in the US. Lindsay Czarniak, a Washington-area news reporter, held the front for TNT’s six-race Sprint Cup saloon car studio show (produced in cooperation with Fox Sports staffers), assisted by Larry McReynolds. Krista Voda, a saloon-car pit reporter, holds the pre-race hosting gig for Speed’s pickup truck racing coverage for the majority of races (exception of those races when first-half Sprint Cup races are separate from Camping World Truck).


Interesting question- who will replace Lee in the pits? Surely she isnt going to do both roles?!

My punt is aimed for Holly Samos. She already has a great rapport with Ted on 5 live.


Ted will do both jobs, I imagine

Mike from Medellin, Colombia

For those who are interested, I saw this rather odd interview with Legard.


He talks about his experience as a commentator.

The interview get’s a little weird at around 2.10


Jake will be missed- I had the pleasure of bumping into him at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve. He is very unassuming, can connect with a complete stranger in 2 secs and make that person feel comfortable talking. I do think the way F1 is covered also makes it more popular and Jake plays a big part in that. In contrast Speed TV in the US has the uncanny ability to herd all the critical moments into during ad breaks.


Agree with everyone else. Jakes presenting makes you feel like you are almost there. Its great fun with the 3 guys, I even missed Eddie when the volcano thing happened.


Of course he has been excellent!

It is about time for more of a female presence though. The team currently looks like a bunch of old men. For such a ‘cutting edge’ sport its quite remarkable how sexist f1 still is with the women just there to look pretty.


Shock Shock Shock !!!!!!!!!!

Stunning that the JA Forum finally agrees on its first thing !!!!!!!!!!!

Every writer here thinks Jake has done a superb job and I 100% agree and I can only wish him the very best in his career whether its many years of F1 or he moves on.

Now – to look around F1 and see that other faces may be changing at some point – James any views –

– Charlie Whiting ( Another with 100% respect and will have to retire at some point )

– Bernie ….( What can I say – Its not worth us all writing in because truth will be stranger than fiction )

– A case for permanent F1 Stewards. ??

– Williams gets bought ???

Cheers fora great forum.



I think Bernie will be replaced by Flavio Briatore.


Oh dear god no!

They need Alan Gow (BTCC series director). You see what he’s done with that series since he took over again in 2004. Major TV coverage deal, and brilliant competition.

No nonsense administrator, really knows his stuff. That said, we wouldnt want him to leave BTCC.


Something I’ve always been intereseted in learning about is how the TV coverage is put together. It seems like a major logistical exercise, and generally nowdays the coverage is fantastic.

How does the director communicate with the individual camera operators around the circuit? How do the camera operators know which car to follow? Are the camera operators trained in driver identification? Who develops the onboard cameras and decides their placements?

Would love to know more!


Jake did the 2008 olympics and was pretty poor IMO, I remember hearing he would be F1 anchor after that and dreading it, fact is he’s done well presenting F1 whether thats becauise the subject suits him better or because he’s matured remains to be seen.


Glad to someone enjoys the hosting of F1 by Jake Humphrey.

Sorry to say he gets right up my nose.

His condescending manner to both Eddy Jordan and David Coulthard and attempts to front the program are tiresome at best.

F1 does not need it, I for one will be happy to see him off to practice for 2012.

That bloke they had on ITV was ok though.


Dee Jay or should I say ….. James, your alter ego finally got the better of you !!!!




One of the key things I think Jake has brought to F1 is that he has helped bring the coverage to the casual fan. This is why they probably comment on things like their fashion sense, it lightens the coverage and while it might annoy the die hards it helps integrate the viewers into the trio.

Jake doesn’t have to be an expert as others have mentioned he is the anchor and while he is knowledgeable and seems to have fitted into the paddock well (would the team principles want to be on the BBC if they didn’t like him?) You just need to find the blog where he posted his talk back and realise how challenging it can be to present live TV!

Lee will be great she has a history in motor sport – the ITV show and A1GP so there is no issue with her knowledge. As for Jake and 2012 – he presented Beijing in 2008 and presents football when there isn’t races so would be involved in anyway and won’t London be in the F1 summer holiday? If anything I get the feeling that DC is being groomed with the more responsibility he is getting.


DC is still on RBR books and it’s obvious by his biased comments – I’ve been incredibly proud of the BBC as trying to present an unbiased program on any show it does ( for its whole life )( OK it obviously shouts for the British boys ) – but I wonder how long the BBC can go on employing DC as eventually he will get the chop because you can get away with it for a short while, but the Beeb axe will eventually come, and rightly so. ( This is irrespective of what I think as DC as a commentator )


I think DC is being groomed to take over from Martin Brundle when he decides to hang up the mike.


Indeed – I think he can get away with it because they make no secret of the fact that he’s a Red Bull employee. I thought recently he’s tried to be a bit more even handed but there certainly have been times when he’s sounded more like an Red Bull spokesman than a pundit.

But then, conflicts are inevitable in a tight knit sport – anybody with inside knowledge will have some connections. I remember Brundle being criticised for pro-Coulthard bias in the days when he was his manager.


That’s an interesting point. It’s certainly been challenging for him when put on the spot about Red Bull’s problems


Jake Humphrey is clearly seen (rightly) as a rising star by the BBC. I agree it’s unlikely he’ll do F1 forever – I also wonder if Sky or ITV will try to tempt him away from the BBC which does not have much sport these days.

The BBC has a strong team with DC, EJ, Ted and of course Martin Brundle who is a natural as commentator.

Legard seems to have lost the plot somehow. I liked him on the radio and forgave his initial difficulties making the transition to TV, but it is now clear to everyone surely that something isn’t working.


It’s the Olympics. In London. The UK’s single greatest sporting event for a generation. It’s unlikely that any current anchor will be omitted from BBC Sport’s coverage of the Games. It’ll be all hands to the pumps – particularly given the sheer depth of sporting activities on show (athletics, football, tennis etc). At a guess, Humphrey’s presence at the Commonwealth Games will be to give him valuable experience presenting live sport broadcasts from a studio, rather than on the hoof outside an F1 garage. But it is only two weeks. The BBC has no cricket, no Champions League or live Premiership games and a mere two weeks every Summer at Wimbledon. Given the length of the championship, spectacular locations and profoundly global reach, F1 is pretty much the jewel in BBC Sport’s crown and presenting it is just about as good as it gets.


… unless you get tired of the demanding traveling all season long …


I’ve really enjoyed the bbc’s coverage. Jake has been really watchable, and brings a genuine enthusiasm to the show, you get the sense that the more time he spends in f1 the more it becomes his passion. DC and EJ are good fun as pundits and the three work well as a team.

I think that the forum is fantastic and the coverage great.


Jake Humphrey is an awesome, awesome F1 anchor. I can perfectly understand, given the talent he has wanting to look elsewhere to more high profile positions.

He manages to satisfy everyone. I am a die hard 1 fan and love him to bits. My mother in law knows nothing about F1 but commented on his quality and he actually managed to appeal to her utter novice level as well.


I’ve always really liked Jake on the BBC coverage, after an understandable stiff start he’s really shone as someone who keeps the pace moving and knows when to be light and when to be serious.

I thought his best work was at this year’s British GP when he really ramped up the national pride and sense of occasion. Was it then the BBC decided he was Olympic man? Because he’s been off the boil since. The Jim Clark piece was like a tick on a things to do list. In Hungary he was more sloppy than usual, more childish and on the F1 forum more informal than ever.

The reminders here of Steve ‘steel hair’ Rider and Mark Blundell show how far the BBC have taken F1 coverage. I actually look forward to the pre-race now.

Lee McKenzie has her moments for me but can she work on a new phrase to replace ‘just tell me what happened’?

Enought criticism from me, the total BBC job is so much better than ITV who let’s not forget were head and shoulders above the poor coverage we used to get from the BBC originally.


I am glad that Jake has received acknowledgement for the job he is doing. When the BBC re-started the coverage I had my doubts, but he has got it just right as ringmaster to the David and Eddie show – enthusiastic fan who isn’t too technically minded.

Alan Goodfellow

I’ve been really impressed with the amount of insight Jake has offered us through his blogs, video blogs and even his Twitter page on occasion (thinking here of the pic he posted of DC standing in the paddock having a shave just before the show started!)

I remember a blog he posted where he included an audio recording of what goes on in his ear-piece during a show. How he manages to keep EJ and DC in check with so many voices in his ear at the same time is beyond me!


If Jake’s announcement marks the start of a recruitment drive by BBC for its 2012 jobs they could do a lot worse than asking for John Watson.

He is a knowledgeable, passionate, witty and above all, unfailingly fair, commentator on motor racing. Working with the irrepressible Martin Brudle would not phase him one tiny little bit.

For Japan it must have been a tough call for BBC between Ted and Lee. The difference in their respective abilities is smaller than the gap between Rubens and the pit wall.

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