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. Thanks for the post Judge. I think, for me, what I take out of this post is that Formula1 is very much an all consuming world of its own. It may be because so much is going on and if you think about F1 as an organisation, 11 teams with at least 200 employees plus all the support etc…. It would be a rather big organisation and because of the demands of the sport and the need to be performing all the time you have to be consumed. Perhaps we can learn from it, applying yourself 100% and more and you can reach the pinicle of whatever you do. Perhaps a newfound admiration for Mr E for being able to manage this organised chaos? Enjoy time out 🙂

    • Now you’re pushing my new found emotional state of generosity 🙂 With or without Mr. E, F1 would have grown. And when we consider the 50% theft of the commercial revenue per annum by FOM and CVC et al, the teams and the FIA would only have needed to be half as successful but retain all the revenue to be where they are today.

      Up the revolution!!!!!

  2. Hi there ‘j’
    I think I’m going to enjoy this section the most – certainly different from all the others. At this rate the others will be falling over themselves to emulate ‘theJ13’ – but they’re going to be too late…
    I can’t tell you how happy you’ve kept me all winter – and last autumn as well – many thanks.
    All this needs is occasional additions from J(oj) and I might even give up reading novels… 🙂

    • LOL, thanks, BJF!

      /sob story . .

      I’m all quiet for a bit just now because due solely to personal distractions I managed to delete (it’s on SSD, which is almost impossible to undelete, and I’ve been doing 20hr days for a year, bringing my biz back, and because my personal machine was not on the backup plan due to distractions, which have been real and serious) I lost close to 0.5MM words of writing. Some of which highly personal.

      I’ve never lost data before due to human error, nor been unable to recover data in even extreme situations. As a result I am gutted.

      I had writers block (you will not believe it, but I did have a block, as to what I want to write) for nearly 15 years.

      What I know about low level storage structure is if not up to date, but if out of date, only by a little, try months, and I’ve pulled (for customers) some feats of reconstruction . . but I am tapped out, devastated, even the more so because I thought personal writing should not go to the off – site stores, we having moved to Office 365.

      It was a rogue beta installer: whilst dealing with juggled phones, a visitor and a site engineer, I let it install to the desktop. Stared at all the dll’s spammed across my desk, and thought “stuff it, uninstall”. A uninstaller _should_not_ be touching files it doesn’t own. But it did. I’m still in shock.

      There was some deeply important stuff there, but I must pay for simply not running my desktop system the same way I run everything else, like a military operation. Everything else has procedures for any change. I was simply in a unstoppable writing frenzy for two months, and didn’t want to loose the thoughts.

      It’s not irreplaceable, but turns of phrase are very influenced by ones emotional state of the time, and as much of this was written in mind of someone very important in my life, those cadences will be hard to impossible to recreate.

      (As someone who professionally advocates data security and protection, this dealt a blow to my self esteem as well as my heart)

      Okay, I’ll name the culprit, X1 search, Beta v8. It’s a super search engine, but I took the beta because it can search webmail most kinds, Twitter, and Fecebook feeds, and – okay just *please don’t install to your desktop folder, Doh!* – I thought, “blinding, just what I need to manage this Twitter thing, which moves too quickly for my dumb – ass brain”. Moreover, the ability to have cross referenced emails which fly out like Heathrow on a busier day, to thoughts for tweets (skipping FB, so far) and then connect that to my dtsearch web crawler / indexer, so I can keep tabs on comments and posts, and BINGO!

      Can’t stop
      Lose job
      Mind gone
      What bomb
      Get away
      Pay day
      Make hay
      Break down
      Need fix
      Big six
      Clickity click
      Hold on
      Oh no
      Brrrrrrrrrring bingo!

      [ . . . ]

      Hold on John
      I think there’s something good on.
      I used to read books but…..
      It could be the news
      Or some other abuse
      Or it could be reusable shows.

      … well, that’s how BINGO it turned out.

      But my side project to integrate data sources and references so I can keep up with things more easily, and also compensate for my sieve like mind (colander more accurately) so I can dig out those half – remembered memories of F1 which I’d otherwise need to hypnotised to recall. (big shout and respect to the OTD boys!) .

      There’s not much good writing in F1. I would argue that journalistic training is inadequate to learn to write, as evidenced by the fact only one I know who you know, can it the mark. Thanks for the thought, BJF, if I can get past my grief (or perform appropriate data surgery) I’m up for improving the quality of literary form.

      All my best ~ joj

      • “…but turns of phrase are very influenced by ones emotional state at the time, and . . . those cadences will be hard to impossible to recreate…”
        I greatly sympathise with your loss… I’ve been writing a detailed Journal for about 12 years and the 5.9M words would be a sad loss to me if they weren’t well backed up (in three other places…). But I find now that I often lose the ‘cadences’ in the middle of the sentence I’m writing – but that’s a different sort of memory loss…

    • And that appreciation BJF makes it worth getting up at 7am to do when exhausted.

      I have had Judge’s Chambers in mind for some time, but I need to get someone to help with the ‘News Roundup’ so I can be freed up to write more from my knowledge and less the bones of the current news.

      It will all come in time. I value you regular contribution to building the community with your comments. Thank you.


  3. I am a little ashamed to say that your photo of the velvet night sky and it’s piercing by a million tiny pinholes reminded me starkly of my Wednesday morning having a field test, (peripheral vision test) something which I hate with a passion and always demand to know if the nurse attending has done one herself (yes its always a lady never a bloke) Far better to be in Spain with the wife still asleep.

    But the F1 bubble does influence the people within it, to interact only within it, a closed ecology if you like, what used to be symbiotic, but now now part of it has done a deal that leaves the whole ecology in danger. While half is worried about another deal not yet signed, and another part
    is defying gravity still. Look at it from outside and you might well say that it is not a long term viable business.

    You mention the fact of Jerez not making any money, in fact it must have cost them quite a bit to stage the test session. I am assuming full marshalling, doctor, helicopter etc is present, so, not cheap. So unless they have a kickback commercial arrangement with the local hotels, restaurants and bars how can they afford to do it. Ok all the local prices are three times their norm for the rest of the year so they could afford to support the test session. OR the FIA could pay for the session. .

    Can’t resist mentioning that Spiral4 starts on BBC4 at 21:00 GMT tonight.

    • I’d chip in if TJ is out there with enough time to wield some decent camera kit. (JS is who so should do this, with his wonderful road trip stories, which are good enough to make book, but I see no reason we can’t furnish TJ13 with fresh and innvating photography)

      Hope to get to a few races this year, and grab some atmosphere shots at least.

      Awaiting a new toy, a OM-D E-M5, plus some simple fast lenses. It’s really no toy at all, just not the beast of a machine I’d take for real sports shooting, and since that’s not where I’d like to compete even if I had all the accreditations (which really are not impossible to get) I’ll take what can deliver publication quality and is small and light. There’s only one point in having the latest big rig cameras: when you are up against the pack, and every shot matters. You just have to think how may wonderful sports action shots were taken without all the technology and autofocus, or even fast modern film, which is long surpassed by the digital sensors, and think. It’s called shooting, because yuo could get one round off, like a hunter, not “spray and pray” or “run and gun”, as photogs like to deride poor technique. That said, the Oly, and what I may add, the Fuji X100s (when the “s” revision ships, just enough to be worth the extra and wait) are not really disappointing in speed of operation. Those 10 frames a second big beasts cannot do 10FPS when shutters slow due to low light. But when you see really low light action of a F1 car on track, boy does having the big rig make those shots so much more possible. Don’t expect me to be getting those. Besides, that shot is far too over used, anyhow, says me being a little snide . .

      anyhow, who is going to the races and can wield a camera?

      I’m out of practise, (another productive block, like writers’ block, it took very unhappy events to stop me connecting) but if anyone is there, has the kit, but is nervous they are not pro, please shout me, and I’ll disabuse you of any lack of confidence and a ton of preconceptions as to what pro means, if you’ll let me. At the very least, I can point you to some super materials on sports shooting and supportive technical habits that would up your game.

      Are there enough of us to have a showcase thread for readers’ pics, after each race?

      • Hi JOJ. Sorry you having a crappy month. I will get to emails when I get back to sunny England.

        You make a good point though about photography.

        Mrs. Judge is from an art background, and sees F1 through these eyes not those of a sports photographer. We haven’t shown any of her best work yet as she is worried it will be lifted from the internet and used elsewhere.

        Similarly, fans see F1 through different eyes again, they just lack a few basic framing skills and technical operative understanding.

        So given a little help and some editing, they can capture F1 in a way the pro’s would never think of.

        I know a number of F1 photographers and if ou knew how jaded their view of what they do is, you’d be more than a little surprised.

        Given some community growth and technical improvements, who knows where we’ll be in the art and photography scene of f1 in just a year.


        • One little thing was satisfying though: nearly 20 years ago my pal was made cuckold by his general manager, who stripped the company, whilst my pal’s wife destroyed the records when my pal was arrested on suspicion. On 31 Jan, following a 3 year manhunt, this man was arrested for a series of frauds. He took my friend’s wife, his business, two properties worth in modern coin insane amounts, liquidated my friend’s assets and possessions right down to sentimental trinkets, and alienated my pal’s two sons; one even hanged his name to this thief’s, discarding his father’s.

          My pal had a hand in a tip off, because his estranged son let some slip.

          My friend is not getting better yet, though. At 82, he’s still distraught, and broke. I was penning his bio, but time and again he lost it because his life is so checkered much does not check out. That he did cool things like smuggle people out of the Soviet sector as the wall was still being built, is verifiable. So is that his first life was shot by the Nazis (but his uncle a fully dressed black shirt) and a absolute library of evidence his business was mainly questionable. Maybe I shall do the unauthorized edition. His English is not great,. he’s deliberately faking deafness, (one funny one was when in a office rattling to the reverberation of his voice fell silent and hen to laughter because I whispered “is that a fiver by your feet?” and he dived for it) his German no German I know can understand. (and I checked who could speak dialects) But though he is a very funny fish, he’s got your back, I’d pick him in a tight spot. His experiences created fr him a different moral universe, but not one that should condemn him.

          There’s a albeit very small connexion to a different age of F1, also. Infights with more notorious publishers, insights with absolutely everybody, and the fact I am convinced I was introduced to him as a perverted form of punishment by a mutual friend with who I have a copyright disagreement, all add to the fun. His racing recollections are of Bernd Rosemeyer. I’d take him to a race, he’d like that, but we might get thrown out, people being unable to hear the cars over his voice.

          My pals and I may not directly have helped, but we dug and dug to try to nail this bastard who stiffed my mate, and many besides. It’s bitter still, because it closes nothing for him, just makes him all the worse for being proven right. I know he’s likely not spoken to his sister, so I guess I’ll write her with the news.

          So maybe BJF is right, there may be a story or two in my scribblings. If it were only more F1, I’d put it out as a serial for you guys.

          .. separate comment on the rest follows . . .

          • First wife was shot, not first life, but amounts to the same thing I guess . .

          • Gah, to clarify the dateline, his wife was stuck behind, post 4 power Berlin or as it closed off, was shot in reprisal, much later than the war – not obviously a child bride. He believes it was a reprisal even between one time colleagues as his Uncle was one of that mob, and there was terrible fall out in those years. Guess it could have been nothing to do with him, but one wonders. I think he left her behind, somehow. You can see why we have had some falling out time to time. But remain close, in a messed up way, my being the exact age of his estranged boys, he tries to convey his life to me instead.

            My apologies to anyone hoping for F1 related comments . .

          • Not to detract JoJ BUT, pity your are not a gorgeous twenty something girl, then you could have your own tv series called “Revenge” Sounds a bit like one of Joe’s books but rather too late, cold war,more Len Deighton perhaps.

        • Photography:

          I can quite believe the jaundice that sets in, TJ. Is it not obvious from the output?

          I grew up with cameras, my uncle had a huge collection of Aeriel optics from factories such as Jena, as part of his war work. He had a not average darkroom, built much of his own kit, the plates were taken as Crown Copyright, in case, I’ve not even photo of him. They own your life, if you ascend so far.

          Very hard to reduce photography to simple words such as framing. No idea if I can still really do it. Was invited to write for a very large, if not the largest photography site of the time, just before my late BP passed. Couldn’t do it. I mean, it’s intertwined with the way I see the world. The conflagration of technicalities and needing to know all that so to render artistically is demanding of enormous concentration. Really not sure I can do it again. Not least I had almost no budget limits, last I did. Lately trying to improve my drawing skills, and one of the things I deleted but can recall was a entire plan how to visualize emotions in a child – like cartoon with very mature emotions, that had been on my mind for years as a thought: Q being how to do this with my highly limited skills and stylizations. Mrs. TJ might understand that better. I was writing notes right through the night. Fortunately whilst writing because I visualized this, I’ve a good memory. I hope who it’s for will enjoy. It crystallized since I met her.

          Cannot but agree that there is a time now to display the other side of F1, photographically. Good photos are emotive beyond the “moment” (Cartier – Bresson posed nearly all his “moment” pictures, it has been argued. Not my bag, anyhow) and if we can get a few contributing interestingly, that’s all in order to take back the F1 image from the “image makers” and return it to the fans.

          • 🙂

            Post processing: “Now this slider takes out the purple tone, which naturally overexposes because no camera sensor can stand it . .”

            Practical: “No that’s _ entirely the wrong car”

            Framing and timing: “always fire the shutter on the second move across the track”

            (Nostalgic: “Well that technique worked when Michael was driving.”)

            Emotional: “When you focus carefully, you don’t want the impression of speed, you want the sense of stillness, look at Kimi, yes, he’s doing _nothing . . now *that’s what F1 is about”

            Passionate: “You cut off Ross’s head, that’s Nikki’s job.”

            Lazy Avant Guarde: ” Low angle shots always look good of a car. I usually wait until Romain or Pastor are making a pass, my back is less bothered that way.

            Romance and effect: “always focus at infinity when taking a closeup of Bernie”

            Equipment advice: “I recommend the new 800mm Canon prime, you can take quite nice pictures of racing cars from about where the Paddock Club is”

            Existential: “press conferences and testing are the when you must really pay attention”

            Family album: “that ticket. Keep it. That was your mortgage”

            Portrait gallery: “I keep telling you, a _flattering shot is from a longer lens *further* away from the grid girls”

            Career advice “No, mine’s for free, but FOM sent you this bill . . ”

            (to be revised if ever a clue hits me about the head . .)

        • Laziness may have saved the day,

          My personal machine was not set up according to policy, (policy being no local versioning of anything, and auto secure erase) and so System Restore was running, caught some of my work. That should have been disabled. I live – bar no doubt some lost gems – another day . .

    • Rpaco The teams organise testing, its nothing to do with Bernie (FOM) or the FIA – hence no TV.

      The tracks merely take what they can get from entrance fees and this year Jerez has had visibly less fans then ever before when I’ve been here.

      Burgers, coffee etc contribute, but not that much.

  4. Amazing article which shows the passion for Fi which this site exemplifies. Love the technical side of GP racing, but it also involves humans – at least I think some are human!

    • Hi cassius42 – sorry for not welcoming you earlier. I’ve been a little pre-occupied. glad you like the site and I promise you it is only going to get even better.

      I now have some really good people helping run TJ13 – all F1 fans in their spare time – some 1-2 hours a week, others more. Whatever they can easily afford without disrupting their lives and burning out.

      If you have a writing skill, or can edit photographs or have video skills and would like to contribute – don’t hesitate to speak the community by commenting is the most invaluable contribution you can make.

      Glad you like our efforts so far. TJ13

  5. One of the things I like the most I’ve seen from the testing stuff you’ve put up…. the kerb cleaners on Youtube. That had never occurred to me before, but it seems obvious now! I have only ever been to one Grand Prix; Silverstone 2008 when Lewis won in the wet (i.e made everyone else look like an idiot). We got in free thanks to a friend having his BSM premises on the site at the time, but I doubt we’ll be able to go to one any other way… I guess thats why this little functional detail tickled me.

    • And this is what I was trying to communicate in today’s Judge’s Chambers.

      I had become blase to all the little things like this, which in fact are as interesting as Kimi saying ‘Yes’ and ‘No’ to every question he is asked.

      Keep building the community with your insightful comments. TJ13

  6. 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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