A quick Q&A with Jennie Gow

Hi Jennie! How are you? Are you excited for the British Grand Prix?

Im great thanks and yes, really looking forward to the British Grand Prix.

1. So you’re a pit lane reporter, how did you go about that? Did you want to be a presenter at a young age?

I wanted to be a journalist when I was younger and worked really hard to make it happen. I qualified as a Journalist and then did LOADS of work experience everywhere and anywhere I could. I have had the pleasure of working in lots of different sports along the way but really love my role as F1 pit lane reporter.

2. I know you from Formula 1, but I do know that you used to present MotoGP! How was that? Do you enjoy bike racing?

I love racing in general and being in the world of MotoGP was brilliant. It was a hard year and there was an enormous amount to learn. It was a real experience and I’m glad I had the chance to do it. The paddock is a very different one to F1, for a start most people speak Spanish in MotoGP so it’s a lot harder in that respect. The first race I ever presented was Speedway – 2 wheeled action is exhilarating and if you’ve never been to an event I would highly recommend it.

3. Talk us through a grand prix weekend, how much prep goes into it?

I spend about two days prepping for a race weekend. I present the preview show on a Thursday night so there are times when I have to go and interview people ahead of that. It’s a busy weekend. We broadcast live for every session and then do lots of other spots into 5 Live and other programming across the BBC. I generally get up at about 6am and get to bed at about midnight on a race weekend – and then collapse on a Monday!

4. Do you have any predictions for this season? Or did you have any predictions coming into this season that haven’t gone the way you expected?

I thought Jenson Button was set for a better season than he is having. Who would have guessed that the McLaren car would be so poor this year. It worries me that Sebastian Vettel could walk away with the Championship. I know that would be great for him but I don’t think it would be great for F1 fans. We like to see it go down to the wire.

5. Has anything surprised you this season?

Again, the McLaren. The drama about Pirelli tyres this year. Oh, and Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg being so dominant this season. Everyone was worried about Lewis’ move away from McLaren but I guess he is the one smiling now.

6. Obviously you travel quite a lot. With 21 races on the calendar being the latest rumour (Russia and another USA race being added), what are your thoughts on this? And how hard will it be for you; jet-lag?

21 races will be incredibly hard. Not primarily for me but for the teams. The guys all work incredibly hard and adding another race as well as in season testing is going to be a real drain on their resources and energy levels. At the end of the season there aren’t many people in the paddock who aren’t completely shattered. This will only be worse as the number of races increases. But in general it’s great that F1 is trying to appeal to new audiences and taking the show on the road.

7. Do you have a favourite race on the calendar?

Austin and Silverstone. Austin was the race everyone was worried about last season. Would COTA be ready, would there be any fans, would it provide decent racing? All these things were answered in raptures and the city itself is AMAZING. Definitely one to go to for fans. Silverstone is of course a great experience. All the biggest names in racing come together and its a real celebration. Meeting all the fans of F1 and having a chance to see everyone is brilliant.

8. If you could interview any driver past or present, who would you choose and why?

Ayrton Senna. Simple. He was the most charismatic of drivers and I would loved to have met him and spoken about his passion for F1 with him.

9. In other formula’s, some drivers are struggling with funding, and actually in Formula 1 it’s been spoken about as well. Luiz Razia losing his seat, and the whole ‘paid’ or ‘pay’ drivers. What are your thoughts on this?

There have always been pay drivers. Niki Lauda was set to be one when he first entered F1. There are times when it feels a shame that people lose out if they don’t have the funding but in general if you are good you should be able to succeed. F1 wouldn’t survive without some drivers  paying and some being paid – it’s all about balance. Let’s just hope not too many talented people slip through the hole. I think more should be done for the junior formula though, that’s where we lose the most talented people before they even get a chance at F1. We have to make it more accessible for everyone.

10. Tyres are big talk this season, I’ll avoid the Mercedes/Pirelli ‘tyre-gate’ issues, but what are your thoughts on the general tyres? Do you think they needed to be changed/altered?

Safety is paramount and if tyres are delaminating and causing accidents that is a problem but I don’t understand how Pirelli and the teams are meant to improve the situation without testing. I think the standard of racing in general over the last 3 years has been really good though and I don’t think anyone would dispute that.

11. What do you like best about your job? What are your best/worst moments from working in Formula 1?

I love that I can share the world of F1 with everyone at home listening. Its a privileged world and I get to take you there and show you around. Meet the drivers and hopefully, bring you all the best bits from the weekend and the sport. There have been some ‘interesting’ moments though and they usually include me putting my foot right in my mouth – I was on the grid at Spa last year looking for Monisha Kaltenborn from Sauber and while I was talking I was trying to describe what I was seeing – saying I was looking at Kobayashi’s shiny red helmet wasn’t ideal!

12. If you could add/remove a race from the calendar, which would you choose?

I would add London city – that would be AMAZING. Can you imagine cars running around the Tower of London and Big Ben! I would probably take away Korea. It wasn’t as bad as some say but I don’t think the place is ready for F1 quite yet and the political situation makes it a volatile place to go.

13. Finally for all the aspiring writers/presenters/commentators; Have you got any tips to be a successful journalist?

Be persistent. Don’t take no for an answer and do as much work experience as you can. It’s important to get the right qualifications too. So check before you start any course that it is the right one. Most of us presenters are very happy to help where we can so don’t be afraid to ask questions. Things like Twitter and Facebook make it much easier to get in touch with people so if there is someone you really admire out there in the world you would like to work in, get to know them and ask them for a little help. It’s a great job but don’t expect it to be too glamorous – its not!

Listen to Jennie on BBC5Live reporting from the F1 pit-lane.
(picture courtesy of the BBC)


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