Reflections on Jerez: Part 1

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Welcome to the all new ‘Judge’s Chambers’ section. It’s strange to start this in temporary accommodation, but no matter. The Chambers back home are nearly ready, modestly decorated and furnished I might add – no pomp and circumstance with thejudge13.

So good morning all. Having managed a solid 6 ½ hours sleep, my body clock is screaming for me to get up, but Mrs J will be sleeping yet for some time. So I have procured my favourite table in the restaurant for breakfast and the waiter has just brought some fabulously aromatic ground coffee and freshly squeezed oranges, so let’s begin.

I rarely plan what I write in fear of getting writers block. If I just start, the creative juices eventually begin to flow. Last night however, my brain was scrambled, I was reaching for simple bits of vocabulary and even Keke had to give me a nudge as I began nodding off during one of his raconteur performances (I’d heard that story before anyway – more than once J.

Determined to survive from collapsing until midnight, as I rarely sleep more than 6-7 hours, I went for a brief stroll outside in the chilly air; temperatures here drop at this time to around 0-2 degrees c.

stars jerez

I stared for a while at the clearest deepest black velvet sky and the thousands of pinholes piercing the black cloth allowing the light to shine through with varying degrees of intensity. This got me thinking. Truly I have seen and heard much in the past few days; a veritable torrent of sights and sounds and impressions and ‘Burn’ and even some ‘Red Bull’ too. Yet amongst the ‘matrix-esque’ streams of data and information pouring over me, there have been some stark moments that rise above the fray in my mind that appear strange or demand closer attention.

The first and the brightest of all the stars of the night hit me on a personal and emotional level. Each and everyone of us are aware of this guiding light from merely reading and watching the lives of the F1 folk; it is that the F1 circus does truly live in a very small self contained bubble.

In the past I have been critical of the mindset springing from this, assuming it is merely a result of self delusion/promotion or an obtuse refusal to place in the larger context of human existence the F1 lives that the circus performers choose to exist within.

This corruption of the mind I believe is sown in the practical demands upon the daily existence of F1 people. It is watered by the intensity of the life they live at times and then bursts into full bloom and we see the dazzling colours framed in the inane words spoken and at times the ridiculous actions undertaken.

I have been to scores of F1 tests, yet this time it was like none other before. Having birthed TJ13 my goals were markedly different coming to Jerez in 2013. No more sitting for a couple of hours in the hot afternoon sun drinking beer and taking turns with friends to face away from the circuit playing, ‘guess the car’, merely from the sound it makes. No time to revisit the Tio Pepe or Sandeman Bodega’s and partake of this beautiful part of the worlds liquid history; No more sloping off early to catch the last rays of the sun and a cocktail outside the iconic rotund ‘Blue Cockrell’ in the centre of town whilst leisurely nibbling on tapas and drinking a full bodied tulip shaped glass of local Rioja.

blue rooster

The F1 bubble has over the past 4 days enveloped me completely. I have seen no news stories, read little on the internet about what is going on and without reference couldn’t say who had been fastest when. I have seen on twitter the masses of statistical analysis of the lap times and chuckle to myself at the importance placed upon that data.

The battle to send 20-30 pictures home for publishing which takes 2-3 hours due to poor internet connectivity has driven me further into the bubble. The best example of this would be I heard Mr. E was rocking up on day 3, but being busy I forgot to verify the where and when, and I don’t even know now if he was here or not. He was not part of the mission and receives a hearty tap of the judge’s gavel most frequently.

Wait a minute….this proves the point. I just heard the angry insect like buzzing of an F1 engine a few miles away at the circuit. You can hear them in the centre of Jerez which is over 10k away. A team must be doing a filming day; something I was not aware was happening today even though I attended such a session last year with Caterham. Wow – I’m deeper in the bubble than I realised.


For those new to thejudge13, the website began with a simple goal – to do my bit that will bring F1 fans closer to the sport they love. The manner in which we will deliver is by relentless pursuit in pushing the boundaries of social media communications. Blogging, Twitter, YouTube TV, F1 Art and music, News, Debate, Comment and most importantly in all of this there is a feeling of fans contribution to the project and participation in whatever small way they can.

With this mission burning bright I arrived – eventually though late – in Jerez. Each day has been about trying to capture from early in the morning until late at night the sights, sounds, colours and feelings of what it is like to live amongst the F1 circus at the Jerez test – much of which you are yet to receive.

Knowing many readers may never have been to an F1 race or a testing event, I set off in pursuit of the detail I have become all too familiar with and take for granted but which many of you never see from the mainstream media.

The result being I have had a ‘born again’ experience of what it is like to arrive at an F1 event for the first time, starry eyed and almost overwhelmed by the whole occasion. This morning I feel quite emotional that it is all over having made so many new friends who have now all disappeared to various parts of the world.

I heard a butterfly flutter on the eve of day 3 and felt a growing concern for the future of Jerez’s part in the F1 pre-season. I believe Paul Hembery commented on how the track surface has deteriorated over the years and that the poor quality of the track surface now means the drivers can only attack for a lap and then need to back off to conserve their rubber.

That night I was mooching around the circuit in the dark and I saw vehicles out late on the circuit with men digging and ferreting around in the pitch black, not sure what they were up to.



Of course yesterday it became crystal clear to me what had been going on with the stoppages for repair to kerbs and the asphalt in the very places I had seen nocturnal activity. How much it would costs to resurface the 2.75 miles of tarmac, I have no idea. However, if the surface is good enough still for MotoGP it would be difficult to see the justification of such a major project when F1 gives no guarantees to the test venues and they may be lucky to raise £3-400,000 gross from the testing event.

I know F1 could easily dump Jerez as quickly as Casanova jilted one lover and moved on to the next.

Maybe because of my emotional interaction with the lives of people this week or my love of Jerez as a typical Andalusian town – where the pace of life dictates what can and will be done – but I would be pained to see the end of Jerez’s relationship with F1.

‘Objection our honour’ I hear you say. Yes and it is time to cease from indulging the court’s favour with meanderings and hearsay. However a judge with insight into – and empathy with – the ordinariness of human existence, delivers far better verdicts than one who is detached and without heart.

More soon and here’s my new friend…



29 responses to “Reflections on Jerez: Part 1

  1. Being in a bubble must be emphasised by the lack a decent internet connection. I remember last yr Peter Windsor attempted a live Flying Lap episode & was nearly thwarted!

    Next year Judge?

    • TJ13 weekly TV news review is something I’ve been passionate about since launching the blog. Technology and cost are slightly prohibitive at present.

      Further we need to establish the other areas of the site first and recruit some further help.

      It will come….this week has been an inspiration to me….big time.

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