Motorsport is hugely popular around the world, especially if there is a F1 World Champion from that particular country. Brazil boasts one of Formula One’s most famous and admired champions with Ayrton Senna, as well as fellow championship victors Emerson Fittipaldi and Nelson Piquet. Julianne Cerasoli grew up aspiring to work in the sport, and now covers F1 on radio, online and on her own blog, so I spoke to her about YouTube, grid walks and spending all her savings on reaching her dream.
Julianne grew up dreaming of working in motorsport, particularly F1 and from a young age she knew journalism was the area for her. Having been inspired by watching several Brazilian drivers battle it out for wins and podiums, there was one who stood out to her, even as a small child. “I never dreamt about being a driver or working in other motorsport categories and I guess it has a lot to do with the impact Ayrton Senna had in my childhood. I was about five when someone gave me an old notebook to play with and I covered it with newspaper clippings about Ayrton,” she said. At school she enjoyed writing, even creating F1 reports to show to her teachers, and although they may not have been up to her standard now, this was her first taste of writing about the sport she loved. “That’s not the only quality a journalist needs,” Cerasoli said of this, adding: “I have always been really shy, so even though being a journalist was pretty much my only goal in life, it was not an easy journey.”
As with many hoping to make a career out of F1 journalism, Julianne admitted she didn’t really know where to start or how to go about making her dream a reality. “I guess because I didn’t live in a big city and thinking my goal was too far from me, it took me ages to even try to work with F1. I started working as a journalist in 2004 and only launched my blog in 2010, at a time that I was really disappointed with how my career and life were going. After a couple of months my work started to be noticed by colleagues that were in F1 and seven or eight months later I was hired by a website,” she told me. Initially this role was office based and so involved her transcribing interviews and writing stories, with Cerasoli still working on her own website in her spare time, and writing for a magazine part-time too. “The salary was far from enough for me to leave my other job in a fitness magazine. So, I spent four years using my vacations to go to F1 races, not doing more than 4 races a year and spending pretty much all my savings with it!” Julianne exclaimed.
Although Cerasoli was working in her desired category of F1, her main income came from her other job with the fitness magazine. This left her feeling like she wasn’t really working in the F1 world she had dreamed of, and no closer to giving up her other job and fully pursuing her motorsport career. “I don’t know how many times I thought about giving up. I asked myself when all this struggle would end, and especially what I could do to change that situation,” Julianne explained. “That was when I got a call from Brazil’s biggest news website. They needed a F1 journalist quickly and many people had talked me up. Looking back, I think I sounded very arrogant in that job interview, but I was so ready! Being a bigger company, I had a decent budget but they still didn’t know if they could trust me, so in the first year with them, in 2015, I did 8 races. And since then I’m doing the full season.”
3 years later and Julianne is still working for that website, UOL, as well as Bandeirantes radio. Travelling to all the Grands Prix on the calendar, she reports live from the grid and is the co-commentator for the radio coverage of the race. “Plus, I do some analysis in my blog and on YouTube. So, the shy girl who used to think she was going to die before any interview, 10 years later does live radio and YouTube!” she told me. However, when covering the sport in different formats, Cerasoli might adapt to the language she uses and consider the different audiences. “You have to think that people might be listening/watching you by chance, just as they’re looking for something to entertain them on the radio or TV, whereas your readers chose to click on your story. Plus, your in-depth level has to differ when you write for a general news website or specialised media,” Julianne explained.
Having spent a good couple of years travelling with the F1 circus, Cerasoli has had the chance to do many interviews, and what she finds most interesting are those that are unexpected and often unrelated to the sport. “I would say there are two types of memorable interviews in F1: the ones you would expect for being in the sport and the completely random ones with the celebrities that show up and you thought you’d never meet. I remember my first one-to-one with Lewis Hamilton – it was after many years since I’d started in F1 so he knew and trusted me, and we spoke a lot about life (and he even sang in the end!) As for the random ones, I know this means nothing for the vast majority of people but I interviewed one of my biggest idols, a DJ called Armin van Buuren, on the grid in China. Everybody was laughing at my enthusiasm that day but I didn’t care,” she said.
F1 is a constantly changing sport, so keeping up-to-date with all the goings-on around the sport in terms of rule changes and technical details, as well as rumours and off-track politics can be a lot to handle. For Julianne, this is one of the areas that provides her with the most challenges. “It’s very hard to be up to date and at the same time you feel like you’re not allowed to make mistakes, so it’s very demanding, as it has to be, because there are thousands of people who wanted to be in your place. There are always new things in the cars, new rules being studied, different negotiations in the background and it’s all these different facades of the sport that make it so interesting,” she explained.
This pressure not to make mistakes and make your moment count can often be difficult to manage, especially when there are a lot of other factors journalists have to think about at the same time. “Particularly the media scrums can be really tough, you have to think quickly about the question and it better be good or the driver will not be so keen to stop and listen to you next time, and you are dealing with all of this under a big pressure of time,” Cerasoli added.
Julianne Cerasoli has had to fight to get to her Formula One dream. Having not grown up in a big city, she didn’t know how to get there and so believed it was out of reach. However, after hard work and putting both herself and her work out there, those working in the sport began noticing her talent. Now being experienced travelling the world with the F1 family, she would advise those looking to follow in her footsteps: “if you are aiming for something big, you have to be prepared to fight big. Create your opportunity by showing the world something only you can do, in a special way. Use the internet in your favour, to study continuously and to be noticed. Do not give up after one, 10, 100 nos. As I said before, working in F1 is something thousands of people dream of, and more likely than not, it won’t be easy to get and to stay there,” Julianne said.
Photo credits: Julianne Cerasoli