The biggest motorsport weekend of the year

Jennie Gow with Jann Mardenborough and Kyle Wilson-Clarke courtesy Jennie Gow

It’s going to be a mad week for Jennie Gow, who will be reporting from Abu Dhabi in the lead up to the F1 finale, before heading back to the UK to front ITV’s live Formula E coverage on Saturday, and then returning to the Middle East for F1 race day on Sunday. 

“This is going to be the biggest weekend of the year for motorsport. It’s like having the FA Cup final on Saturday and the Champions’ League final on Sunday. What a great two days if you love motor racing!

I don’t think the scheduling is a problem. If the Formula E race was on the Sunday then it might have been, but not as it is now. And the Beijing race was more exciting than anybody dared to dream. It certainly got everyone talking, with good, close battles and that big crash.

The crash was obviously the big talking point. Two drivers who are team mates in other championships coming together spectacularly… It was a massive accident. The first thing you want to see is a head movement, that the driver is fine. You hold your breath, and hold your breath, and wait. Then you see it, and you can breathe again.

I’ve been at races where people have died, and I’ve had to tell people at home that’s happened. I’ve been at incidents where you think the worst has happened but people are fine. They’re all wholly unpleasant situations. You have to become two people – you’re a journalist, presenter, broadcaster, but you’re a human being. You have to box away your emotions to the point where you can do your job.

Suddenly, you’re not just the person asking the questions, but also the person being asked questions. In those situations, people in the paddock can be the last to know anything, and everyone wants information.

Everything gets polarised. There might be pressure from bosses to get the exclusive. But some of the drivers are your friends. You go out for drinks. You do indepth interviews which means you might know them better than other people in your life.

It’s a strange experience to go through. After the Suzuka F1 race, everyone just stood in the paddock for hours, just talking to each other, making sure everyone was ok. It was the first really bad incident that many had experienced.

The FIA does an incredibly good job with safety. Every time anyone goes racing in any championship, the FIA is learning lessons that can get transferred to other series. And the Formula E crash showed that the car is really safe.

Putrajaya is much more traditional style of circuit. There will be a slightly different line up, so it will be interesting to see what happens. Antonio Felix da Costa is a fantastic driver; Buemi has just been crowned WEC champion. Everybody learned so much about managing energy and how to tackle the race, so I don’t think we can predict what will happen.

Franck is bonkers. Fantastically bonkers. What a privilege it is to see someone drive like that when so many drivers don’t any more. Let’s hope he does more crazy overtakes like he did in Beijing.

There were a few things in the Beijing race that people immediately wanted to tweak and change. The formation lap was incredibly slow, for example, and a lot of people didn’t like the background music. But it’s great working in a championship where the organisers are prepared to listen. They want to make it as appealing to as many people as possible.

We will be live on air from 5am on Saturday for the ITV show – just in time for people coming in from clubbing! F1 might not be embracing a younger audience but we are!

We will have an hour’s preview and build up to the race. In round one, we had to set up the championship – it’s a brand new sport, so there was lots to talk about. In round two, we can spend a bit more time looking at quali and what else has happened in the day leading up to the race.

Our guests will be Alex Brundle and Marc Priestley – one very outspoken driver and one amazing technical expert. We’ll be decoding the technology behind the sport, and there will be a lot of post-race analysis. The highlights show will go out at 6pm.”

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