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The Inside Track – Jake Humphrey

Posted by Carrot on November 7, 2012 | No Comments

BBC F1 anchor, and soon to be face of BT Vision’s football coverage, is releasing a book about his time in Formula 1 which will be released on the 8th of November. The Inside Track follows Humphrey’s journey from being offered the role through to the present day, which will be his last F1 season for the foreseeable future. With an advanced sneaky peek at the book, I get to answer the all important question, can a former children’s TV presenter actually write something that F1 fans want to read?

Let me be clear from the start, I like Jake as an F1 presenter. He is the best anchor I think we’ve ever had, obviously not counting the days when Murray Walker was doing the entire coverage solo. He has the great ability to hold a show together, ask the pertinent questions to guests and pundits and then, most importantly, he knows when to shut up and let the experts talk. Seems really simple, but how often did we not get that when ITV hosted the coverage? I did find it sad that he didn’t move to the Sky coverage, but I understand why he didn’t with the Olympics and Euro ’12 about to kick off, both a dream jobs for a presenter in addition to even the abridged coverage the BBC were offering of F1.

So, the book. I must admit to some misgivings when I got my hands on a copy, it’s not a door stop and nor is the text particularly cramped onto the pages. However when I took a step back I realised it compared favourably in these regards to Martin Brundle’s Working the Wheel, so as we don’t mark Martin down for not writing War and Peace, it’s hardly fair to do the same thing to Jake. As I’ve said, the book covers the time from when he was offered the job all the way to the present day, in fact it’s scarily up to date, reminding me of things I’d already forgotten about the 2012 season.

It’s this relevance that’s the book’s greatest strength, and what will unfortunately put off some people. We’re used to waiting quite a while for books that cover a particular season or era (not including the merchandise quick cash-in stuff at the end of each year), and so some people might doubt its quality for that reason. Those people would be wrong if they did so. Jake manages to bring the same refreshing and insightful tone to the book as he has to his presenting role, as just as with his TV work, the book is very accessible.

If we look at some of the more famous F1 books (like Brundle’s or the late Professor Sid Watkins’ works) then you really need to be a big fan to pick them up and get them from the outset. Jake seems to have approached his writing in the same way he does his coverage, someone who’s never watched a race before can read this and be pulled into our sport while at the same time there’s lots of real meat, insights and helpful jogging of the memory for those of us that count our following of the sport in decades.

Jake hasn’t written a dusty history tome of an F1 book, he’s written a fast-paced, modern history of the sport’s most recent (and most surprising) era, that of the Brawn/Red Bull emergence that broke the monopoly of the so-called Big Four. The fact it only spans four years works very well for the book due to the era covered and the way Jake writes. In the modern times where we might only see a driver for a year or two, or where a constructor can arrive, do well and depart all inside a few years, Jake’s transient snapshot of The Piranha Club gels so well to the modern sport we all follow.

The Inside Track works so well, you’d be daft not to get it or request that a fat man wearing red brings you it this December. Jake has a writing style that is witty, informative and easy to pick up again if something’s come up. In fact it’s the ideal book to read on the journey to and from your next race or holiday, give it a go.

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