The story of today, qualifying day at the Aus GP, was Valtteri Bottas’ crash during the final session of qualifying and it happened right below me. It started with Valtteri running wide on the exit of turn 1 and ending up with his left wheels on the grass.He then speared across the track with his back end swinging right and colliding with the tyre barrier at the exit of turn two. The four of us photographers on the tower all missed the impact but I moved quickly to my right and behind the other 3 to get shots of the car spinning across the track with my 500mm lens. There were car parts everywhere and for about a minute there was no movement in the cockpit. No doubt the tyre wall took much of the heat out of the impact and eventually Valtteri exited the cockpit. I was shooting from the ground level photo hole 10 minutes earlier. The car hit about 5 metres past that hole and with a 500mm lens, there would have been little chance of any reasonable pics from there so I was well fortunate to be on the tower.Valtteri was whisked away by the doctor while his car was hoisted off the track.The driver Finnish only has a 1 year contract and putting his Merc into the fence will not impress his employer that’s for sure.
Of course Lewis ended up clocking the fastest time around the Albert Park circuit where he set a new track record. He was pretty happy in the press conference although Vettel gave him a ribbing about having a “party mode” button on the dash that turned up the power when needed.But harking back to the start of the day, the rain was persistent for about 2 hours. It didn’t stop these Daniel Ricciardo fans from celebrating their idol though. Jackie Stewart had a number of umbrella holders on hand to keep him dry. Fernando Alonso was also sheltered from the elements as he arrived wearing his LAT_56 (where the hell is the degree symbol on a Mac keyboard) backpack. They are a new F1 sponsor and for this race only, their logo is on the car. Daniel Ricciardo was slapped with a 3-place grid penalty last night for an incident in yesterday’s FP2 session so the media were keen to get a comment from him as he braved the rain on arrival.Lewis Hamilton was on stage just behind our media centre and being allowed to photograph from the front of the stage resulted in some close up shots using a 500mm lens.For those fashion conscious fans, here’s a close up of his preferred shoe today.On track, the water provided a nice background as the cars headed into turn 6.I then walked back to turn 3 stopping to snap shots on the way.I Thankfully the rain was pretty much gone by the time FP3 started and things dried up completely for qualifying. I shot from a few spots at turn 1 during the qualifying before ending up on the tower to capture Bottas’ off. So tomorrow, here’s how the 20 drivers will line up. And if you’re a betting woman, or man for that matter, you’d have to say Lewis looks the goods but with two Ferraris on his hammer, anything might happen and if something spectacular does happen, I hope it happens right in front of me like it did today.
Au revoir until tomorrow. Oh and please purchase your favourite F1 photo by clicking here.