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A Presenter's Life - Japan!

posted by Lee McKenzie on 13/10/2010

What a weekend! Where to start? I am pretty happy with my Presenting debut at the Japanese Grand Prix, all things considered! It was a very unusual weekend with scripts going out of the window and water and excitement being thrown at us in equal measure.

We had an idea that the weather would be bad come Saturday but I didn’t think for one minute that qualifying would be postponed. Even when we went on air I still thought maybe an F1 miracle would happen, it would dry up and normal service would be resumed. But no! So David Coulthard, Eddie Jordan and I talked, and we talked and we talked some more! In fact we talked for 2 whole hours – which I have read that people still managed to find entertaining!
At one stage Eddie even produced two paper boats to sail down the paddock for us.

For the last half hour we were kindly given refuge by McLaren who let us finish our show in the dry of their hospitality. As I burst through the door looking slightly dishevelled I was met by the grins of Team Button including Jenson himself, who was probably thinking “bring back Jake, this girl is a jinx”!

Normally Jake would start thinking about his race script as soon as the qualifying show is over. Sadly for me, that was not until 3 hours before the start of the race so I had not much time to prepare. The adrenalin was great although maybe not for my first week!

I made it through the pre-race show which I really enjoyed, although I didn’t expect to commentate on a crash live on air when Lucas di Grassi smashed off on the way to the grid. My favourite programme though, was the forum show on the red button – the sort of chat show that we have after the race, where drivers pop in to share their thoughts on the day! If you missed it you can look here for a few more days

Kamui Kobayashi dropped in which is always entertaining. I have known Kamui for quite a few years now and he has never changed – on or off track! Then right at the end, the race winner Sebastian Vettel came over for a chat which was great. He was relaxed, talked about karaoke, his race and how he can still win the championship. There is no script for the Forum (which if you have watched it then I am sure you have noticed!) but that is what makes it such fun.

I have plenty of other great memories from the weekend, some on screen and others off screen. There was when EJ described Kamui as “bonsai”, yes a little tree, I think he meant banzai! When I watched it back you can see I was really struggling not to laugh. There was the Christian Horner moment when he said how nice it was to be speaking to me. Again EJ got involved and called Christian “a creep” only for the Red Bull boss to reply “my Grandmother fancies you Eddie”.

When I was recording the links for the highlights show, I was almost at the end when Championship leader Mark Webber ran over and shouted into my mic “Is she doin’ a good job?” whilst shaking my shoulders. Now if this had been live it would have been great but sadly it just sounded like I had been attacked by an Australian hooligan so we had to record the whole thing again! Bloomin’ drivers!

But for me it was lovely that Mark, other drivers and people in the F1 paddock were interested in how I got on. Eddie and David were both very supportive as was all of the BBC team whether they were on camera or working so hard behind the scenes. I am still unsure about the Saturday opener when the editors got to me voice over as if I were in a dancing doll costume – very funny but very random! And recording the voice over for just those 10 seconds took so long as none of us could stop laughing! Again if you are in the UK and missed it in the early morning mist then have a look – we had lost our senses I think it will be there for a few more days.

For me the weekend was great fun but it did have its pressures – mostly put on by me! Jake does an incredible job and it is not an easy show to present. I wasn’t trying to be Jake – that would have been wrong and false. I just had to be me and do my best. Also there was the constant reminder in the press that I was the first female in the 60 year history of F1 being shown in the UK. It was an honour for me but being female was not the reason I was there. The irony is that the rain delays on Saturday let me demonstrate my motor sport knowledge; I have been involved for what seems like a lifetime now, so I should know something!

Jake is back for the foreseeable future and I will return to the driver interviews and my usual pit-lane stuff, which is what I love to do.

We are set for such an exciting end to the season and we should all make the most of it because in a month’s time, it’ll all be over and it will be a pretty long winter!

Thanks so much for your support and taking the time to read this.

Lee x

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