Ah-h-h, R & R…

At some daft hour of the morning I bid goodbye to some of my F1 media colleagues in Dubai Airport and we all headed off in different directions. This is the F1 life. We will all meet up again a week from now in South Korea (yes, the race is officially on), and between now and then there is plenty to be done. Life would perhaps be easier if one stayed at home, but to me reporting from afar is just not interesting. Put it this way, I’d rather be reporting on the Battle of Britain from the cockpit of a Spitfire, than watching the skies while manning an anti-aircraft gun in the Thames Estuary… I am now in a hotel room on Yas Island, Abu Dhabi, and, looking out of the window at Ferrari World (dusty though the roof may be) my feeling is that life is good. Yes, it is tiring to race around the world like this, but riding the bizarre purple Darth Vader-lookalike Nankai Rapi:t express (below), which connects Kansai Airport with Namba Station in downtown Osaka, one day and then having breakfast by a swimming pool in Abu Dhabi the next is very definitely my kind of life. And I am looking forward to going to the theatre in Paris on Thursday…

I read with some amazement the comments of one or two readers this morning, who seem to think that it is perfectly reasonable for F1 journalists to stay at home and I just don’t understand their mentality – and I never will. All I can say is that being close to the action and with the people involved makes for much more vivid stories… Still, you cannot please all the people, so I am not even going to bother. In this age of Internet democracy one can read whatever one wants to read… It is for the reader to decide.

But not here, not today. I’m having the day off… The batteries need to be recharged a little.

59 thoughts on “Ah-h-h, R & R…

  1. Joe, it’s always clear to me when reading articles as to who was there and who wasn’t. The depth, colour and quality show through every time. Also, all those little snippets of gossip, rumour, etc. that gradually let a proper journalist make a story can’t be obtained from your sofa.

    Hey, we even get a glimpse of you every now and then on the telly popping up behind Mr Brundle, just to prove you’re there!

    1. Ian P,

      Schmundel and his goons nearly ran me over on Sunday. It was a real near-miss at the intersection!. We have collided on occasion but I am not one of the journos who play the camera game. They are professional TV sluts. Bridgestone used to award a prize for the most outrageous bit of TV-hogging each weekend. And the winners were…

  2. Joe better stay in Dubai than being in Paris today, and maybe the following days.
    It’s another strike day and again it’s chaos.
    So enjoy the swimming pool and the good temperature in Dubai.

  3. Joe, I love to read again and again how much you love your job and your life. Sometimes I get really jealous. BTW, the title reminded me of Lady Gaga’s song “Bad Romance” 🙂

    I think that not only F1 journalism experiences the trend that people believe it is completely ok to make articles, websites and magazines without having to leave one’s desk. It is an acute problem with political journalism, business journalism etc. Of course, one can do that but one will never be able to reach the same level of quality and reliability that is provided by a journalist who regularly meets drivers, team principals, mechanics, other journalists etc.

    Analysis / opinion / rumours part is the most interesting part of F1 journalism. Well, at least for me. A professional journo who attends every race will always be the first person who I will listen to in order to understand, why Button lost the race in pits or why “Raikkonen to Renault” rumours are nonsense. Otherwise I can just read the F1 official website or teams’ press releases.

  4. Joe, I am glad that you are there at the races. I like to read the scoops you find, the personal thing you encounter on the track and that you are one of the quickest with bringing F1 news.

    Other journo’s stay at home, thats okay in my view but you see that they are always a bit late and they write just what others encounter. Thats why this blog is such a great blog, its quick with news and it is real.

    You see, if your name is mentioned as a source on a forum or a discussion, peolple mostly know that the source is okay.

    I would like to say, keep on going as long as you like it! I think you have a pretty big following here who likes your work!

  5. Hi.
    In many small countrys they have F1-reporters sitting in homestudio and reporting from F1.
    The difference betwen a reporter who is on the track and a reporter who is sitting in his tv-companys studio far away of the track is massive.
    The on-track reporter is on the show and is involved with it where the off-track reporter don’t know more whats going on than i do sitting watching tv and livetiming.
    The off-track reporter is telling me what he see on his tv and pc and in all cases he see exactly the same as i do.
    The on-track reporter have much more intersting stuff to tell me,things he had heard in the paddock etc.
    Offcourse BBC have their people on-track in all races but in small countrys like here,Norway,and other small countrys they thend to comment off-track from Asia and America and that makes the comments very,very boring stuff.
    So anyone wonders to see Korea GP on norwegian tv,don’t do it,thet are sitting in Oslo with a small telly and a computer and watching the same as you do with nothing interesting stuff to tell you.

  6. kudos to you Joe for for reporting the right way- I dream of the day I have enough money, and job security, to take off for a year and live life like an f1 journalist. Look forward, as always, to reading about your next adventures as a Globetrotter (one of the reasons I fell in love with this sport)

    Best wishes


  7. You may want to stay in Abu Dhabi for a few more days Joe, seems the French air and rail transport workers are on strike again…

  8. Actually I think that its important to have coverage from the horses mouth so to speak. I follow this site regularly for the breaking stories which in itself speaks volumes about the validity of local coverage…

  9. You can write about F1 from anywhere, but the writer will never have the verity, immediacy, truth or ‘smell of the pitlane’ that they’d have if they bothered to do the thing properly. Or, for that matter, the number of Airmiles! 😉

  10. I agree with you Joe. You may, technically, be able to “report” on what happened during a race from afar, but that’s just repeating what we’ve all seen on the TV. We want inside stories, behind-the-scenes action, even a little gossip – it’s far more interesting and entertaining – and there’s no way you can do that from a news desk in London. Despite the considerable cost to yourself, I would much rather know that the journalists I read have actually attended the race they’re reporting on. Hopefully you can claw some of that expense back!

  11. Stay at home? Report via the telly?
    Good gracious, there is more to any event: sporting, political, occurring news, than a digital visual. Smells, noises, back room chatter, pathos, none of that could be communicated via TV.
    Keep up the good work Joe. I hope you’re able to introduce your son to something besides school and the back yard.

  12. This is beyond me.

    Surely the theory that one does not need to be at the races is either jealousy, or misunderstanding of the sport and how it works.

    I only ever get to look at F1 cars in the flesh from the outside, having spent serveral hundred pounds stirling – and I would go and watch every race like that if I could! The noise, the colour, the smell, the noise, the speed, the noise, the precision…and the noise! I can’t beleive anyone who has seen an F1 car running in anger with their own eyes would think that it’s better to see the sport (let alone report on it) from their armchair.

    The whole reason we, the great unwashed, trawl the internet for blogs like yours are because we can’t be there ourselves. Most of the juicy information is gleaned from you guys and it is what we crave. The F1 world is a travelling circus and close-knit community in many ways. Who wouldn’t love to be a part of it?

    What annoys me more than anything however, is those who are close to the sport yet still seem to have no understanding of it whatsoever. Not to name names (like lead commentators with “National Institution” TV networks), but how can some people, with so much access to the sport be so completley cluless, when I have a better idea of current F1 events and the technical side of the sport armed only with a laptop, some subscriptions and a thirst for F1 knowledge?

    Some of us are weighed down with the burden of knowledge – when you understand what you are dealing with, the world looks different. Ignorance is bliss, and those who are ignorant are unable to see it. This applies to F1 and to life. Sometimes we have to leave the ignorant to their bliss and continue on our way because, frankly, we know its right.

  13. Hmmm, I think it is completely and utterly reasonable for an F1 writer to stay home, as long as he is willing to actually preface his writings with the admission that he watched it on TV, just like most of us.

    I would imagine his “product” would reflect this approach, stating only the obvious and visible, and would cater to those who appreciate superficiality, and the lack of intellectual effort it requires.

    However, I would imagine that an F1 journalist would be in situ at the actual race, reporting not only the “on track action”, but also, the Machiavellian machinations which are part and parcel of the untelevised side of F1, and which only serve to enrich the drama

    I know which I prefer.
    Thanks, Joe

    Mark Ryan
    Bathurst, Australia

  14. It does seem like you need your R&R; a little jet lagged with all that travel?

    I’ll read an F1 blog if it gives me some interesting info and gossip, not to hear of the professional jealousies of the correspondent. I agree with your sentiment that one should not deceive ones readers and that ‘being there’ is surely the best way to get the inside line, but your posts over the last few days haven’t really borne that out, have they?

    In short: dull.

  15. Joe don’t you dare even think of staying home! The travel stories as well as all the on the ground gossip are just a couple of the layers that make GP+ and this blog so rich!

  16. Actually, I entirely forgot about your posts on the engine regs and Williams drivers. Top stuff. But funny how the journalistic one upmanship blinded me to that, eh?

  17. Hi Joe,

    Just a thought about stay at home F1 journalists,

    Its nice to have someone who talks about/ reviews what you have seen on TV because it gives the read a chance to be on the same level as the author and be able to identify with the topics. Personlly I enjoy these sites for post race comments (when i should be reading Grand Prix+/autosport) and jokes about the BBC but you can tell the difference in any analysis/ rumours because most of these sites will all say the samething and worse, quite often I will disagree with some of the conculsions they make because I have the same amount of information as they do. This is why the sites I check regularly are always the ones that where I believe that the journalist has been to the GPs and knows the teams.

    On a side note, I really enjoy this blog, keep up the good work

  18. I hope you enjoyed your day off. It’s well deserved.

    I accept that not all media is able to attend every race for various reasons (other events, finance, etc), that does not condone them acting as though they were there. I’m happy if they report on the race, but would read the report of someone there first.

  19. Joe even if you did retire from travelling to GP’s (one day in the far far distant future) and decided to write from your arm chair I’d still read your musings and thoughts on F1.

  20. Dear Joe,
    I could not agree more with you with regards to being on sight vs at home while reporting anything. I read your blog for the little insights, traveling dilemmas, and you opinions. I have never been a fan of generals who fight from afar even in this modern age. You can’t; taste, smell and feel from a screen. If I wasn’t so broke I’d subscribe to GP+ and will most likely cancel my Autosport web subscription next season to do so. I think of all the little conversations you’ve written about in airports or cafe with team principals, drivers, etc. and wonder where would one find these gems. I only person who could complain is your wife and what the hell it is your job.
    Keep up the great work, and I hope to meet you in Texas even though it’s a long way from Rhode Island.
    P.S. Been following GP since 1964

  21. I do without doubt appreciate reading article written by people who know what they are talking about and can inform me far better than I can by sitting at home myself. and most of the time, the people who can inform me in such a way are in the midst of teh action, sorrounded by the sport and the people participating in the sport, otherwise all informations is so selected and recycled that it is not hugely useful. I think the people who read your blog appreciate that, appreciate that you are happy to hold your own opinions and that actually you are entitled to your opinions because you are experiencng the whole circus first hand, constantly. Other blogs can deliver interesting facts, and can be helpful, but few capture the real circus feel, the real excitement as well as your writing does achieve. And i think that unless the writers are present at the races speaking contantly and directly to the peolpe involved, their point of view is less valid than someone who is out there gaining his own information.

  22. Joe, in answer to your response to Ian P, “and the winners are”. That’s an easy one! Matt Bishop before he went to McLaren fulltime. Or to be precise, Matt Bishop’s shirts which were the loudest thing on the grid before the engines were started. Did he have a bet with somebody? Or perhaps a sponsorship deal with the shirt supplier? It even got to the point where I looked for him rather than watched Brundle as the focal point. Much as I hate to say it, your old pal Flabio appears to be taking over that role now. Admittedly Brundle actually talked to him last time he was around but to be fair, at er… Germany was it? Brundle did a nifty sidestep to walk past him.

    And like the rest of your correspondants here, long may your work continue. As Mayhemfunkster says above, we have a thirst for knowledge and this is one of the few reliable places to find it. I sincerely hope you have a book in your subconcious about the adventures of Max which can be published sometime in the future. I am sure you know a lot more about things which we can only speculate. And to come full circle to Brundle, I can concur with Mayhemfunkster that Brundle is the last thing I watch before using the red button to avoid listening to the unknowledgeable but continuous drivel spouting commentator from an esteemed national TV network, who sadly is at the races but if the Daily Mail is to be believed will not be next season. If I read it here first, then I will know it is true.

  23. Tom Adams: if Joe followed your advice while traveling abroad, there’s a risk that he might not be able to go to the races for a while….

  24. Joe,

    Echoing the many voices of support for you and the other journos who actually trek out beyond palm and pine to cover each race.

    I particularly enjoy you twisting the knife in the team principals at the Friday press conferences. As someone who enjoys the sordid commercial side of the sport almost as much as the racing, your questions are always very piquant. While I wouldn’t want to be up on the stand actually having to answer them, the responses they elicit are always interesting.

  25. Shouldn’t the BBC be sending Jonathan Laggard to the races. Him “commentating” from home is not really fair and does prove what you say. I assume that must be the problem.

  26. so…

    How’s the pool?

    You should include reviews of some of these places you stay at. I enjoyed your tales of waking up the innkeeper in Belgium a few weeks (months?) back. I think, honestly, that would add some serious value to your travels, since many of us plan to one day make the same adventures abroad to experience the real thing. Obviously you’re allowed to spend a bit more on certain luxuries and travel arrangements, but I’m curious as to which expenditures you find are more…rewarding…than others that leave you disappointed. Anyone who’s examined a brochure for Grand Prix Tours or a similar company probably has the same questions…i.e. do they really deliver a comprehensive ‘experience’, or can you get the same return by doing it yourself?

    I foresee a new side business in your future *wink

  27. Truth in advertising: I think it’s okay to cover a race you didn’t attend but, rather, watched on television for example. But the reader needs to know that this is the case. On site reporting is best, but there are observations to be gleaned from the electronic spectator’s vantage point. It’s all about being straight with the reader–something that all to often isn’t the case.

  28. The phrase “if it’s a job worth doing, it’s worth doing well” springs to mind.
    For us F1 uber-fans it does matter if the reporting comes from the scene; most of us would kill to be at the venue, so at least a genuine professional enthusiast like yourself can keep us at the heart of the drama (on and off track) when we can’t be there.
    Also, I often see on other F1 news sources (which i’m sure don’t have representatives at the races), referring to this very blog when certain stories break, so you’re certainly ahead of the game and doing plenty right.
    Blog is excellent Joe.

    Ok, enough gushing.

  29. Dear Joe,

    Hope you get some rest and relaxation. Looking forward to your insight and writings from the final Grand Prixs.

    I am going to go out on a limb….I have a feeling that Alonso is going to win in the last race. Remember 1986?

    Take care… Have an extra scotch…

  30. Joe

    Interesting blog don’t know how you do it I’ve just returned last week to Australia after 3 week business trip to Europe and I was absolutely shattered – even after flying business – honestly don’t know how you do it but always prefer to read a report from someone on the ground than from someone pretending to be there. Keep up the great work.

  31. Joe, name and shame!

    There are a couple of websites out there that are just outrageous with their headlines. their intent is obviously to create wars with the fanboys from both sides.

    I remember and example last year Lewis was quoted ” I would listen to an offer from another team if someone asked me. It would be a great compliment and it would be silly if I did not.”

    and the headline on PF1 was

    Now that reporting is just a plain lie!

    Keep up the good work!

  32. Joe,

    Love your blog because it gives us good snippets of insight every now and then, but I think the essential thing a journalist has to do is to be professionnal and have good insider’s knowledge so as to give informations that cannot really be gleaned elsewhere.

    After all, it does not really matter if one’s there or not as long as information, insight and, more importantly, analysis are top notch.

    By the way, judging from “his” latest post, it seems that “he” will be there after all…

  33. Joe

    I guess one of the problems with you going to the races is you don’t hear what we hear on the t.v. commentary….. who would have thought the Beeb could have found someone more irritating than James Allan. Of course we have bee permanently spoiled by Mr Walker..

    On a more serious note, I can’t see how a distance reporter can pay more than lip service to their readers, regurgitating press releases and other news stories. That is why time and again I keep coming back to the same places – the ones that provide inside information or as much that can be shared without getting in to trouble), and I believe that info can only be learned from being there. It is one of the reasons I see value in GP+.

  34. Joe,

    Sorry, it was meant to be ‘tongue in cheek’. I was aware that my licence fee was being wasted, sending the incompetent chap to each Grand Prix.

    However, we had a moments respite during the Japenese GP. The BBC1 commentary fell silent and then we had the pleasure of Johnny Herbert with Radio 5 Live commentary. Did someone pull the plug on JL?

  35. I think it’s unfair to call Brundle a ‘TV slut’ – so only print journalism is OK?

    Brundle’s occasional BBC columns are what I relish most as they reveal real gossip insights + true driver opinion.

    An ex-driver’s opinion is usually worth more than a mere commentator.

  36. Joe
    I have discovered this blog after reading an inappropriate reference to you made by a disgruntled individual on another blog.
    Firstly, I want to say how impressed I am with your blog!
    Secondly, I am shocked to learn that there are high-profile journalists who do not attend every race, but who do not explicitly state this when offering their take on events. I expect one-dimensional websites to have this modus operandi , but not individuals who are regarded as authoritative voices, especially when they contribute to the websites of TV stations and write for financial publications.
    I couldn’t agree more with the majority of comments that have been made here on this issue. I understand now why some bloggers have the time to be here, there and everywhere (or at least are able to give that impression).
    Thank you very much for highlighting this issue – I would be none the wiser if you had not done so!
    I have read you ‘What?’ section, and am in general agreement. This is what I have been looking for in a blog! There are many intelligent comments in response to your articles, which tend to follow this ethos.
    One blog has lost a reader, and you have found one! You can thank the individual who wanted you to be kicked somewhere, the moderator who chose not to filter this pathetic remark, and the blogger who addressed the comment without highlighting its inappropriateness.


  37. Joe, I kind of took it to another blog journalist (The one who said: “We’re going to Korea”.) He assured me that, although he skipped Japan, he would be at the next three races. Look for him and hold him to his word. It was obvious that he was not in Japan, because we got to see Will Buxton (the only one of SPEED TV F-1 presenters who is actually at the races- The others sit in a studio in Charlotte, eating doughnuts at 1:00AM) handle the unilateral interview at the end of the race. I think the broadcast loses something when the commentary is done from a remote location. Kind of like when they used to call baseball games by reading the ticker tape and adding sound effects. I really wish we could get the BBC coverage over here in the colonies.

  38. Tell you what Joe…

    I’ll be coming to your next “Evening With…” in Melbourne (best money spent – ever).

    This is how you can tell how in the know you actually are.

    There are less and less ways for journalists to make money in the world these days. Your varied attempts are to be supported. There is limited life for blogs that might make it to half a dozen European races per year.

  39. What really surprises me is Joe’s comment elsewhere that stay-at-home journalists are able to undercut journalists who actually attend the races.

    Do media groups pay journalists who are not at the event the same amount as they would pay journalists who were there?

    If so, something is wrong.

  40. Sorry Joe, I am a bit of a klutz!

    What I meant to ask was, do media outlets consciously purchase output from stay-at-home journalists because the content is cheaper?

  41. Joe

    That is disgraceful!

    Mark – Anacortes WA USA

    Although I vowed not to read that blog again, your comment tempted me to read the response that you received. There was a claim about attending six of the final seven races of the season – but no mention about how many of the first 12 races the individual attended.

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