Day 2 of the European Grand Prix in Baku and Daniel Ricciardo was the fastest man on track today. This augurs well for qualifying tomorrow but let’s step back to the start of the day when I invested some time waiting for drivers to walk over this lovely carpetted bridge as was the case here with Carlos Sainz. Just prior to that, I was in the pits where the teams were practing their pit stops as is the norm first thing on a Friday morning. They are always rich photographic opportunities. The distance from one end of the Baku circuit to the other is nearly 3 kilometres and most of the action happens at one of these ends and not much in the middle. This means you have to pick an end and focus on it. Today I started at the far end on a building balcony looking over the city which provided a number of different shots. Then it was a 10-minute hike to this corner to work in the colourful run off area.A little further along the track there was a photo hole that saw the cars coming directly at us as they exited the corner so I shot at fast and slow shutter speeds always being aware that at some point, a car could end mounting the kerb and cleaning up the concrete barrier that keeps said automobile away from slow moving photographer. The late afternoon session saw the sky cloud over as I climbed the fence and wedged myself into this less-than-a-metre-wide gap to shoot the cars heading up to the castle area. There is only room for half a dozen photographers and the earlier you arrive, the better angle you secure. I dipped out on the plum spot and had to shoot through the fence.Just as I was leaving, Lewis Hamilton overshot the corner and ended up in the safety chute before reversing and continuing on.Twenty five minutes into the session it was off to another spot for shots of the castle, which does scrub up better in sunshine, but you take what you get and this is what my camera saw. There is a photo window on a slow corner leading into the castle area which allows us to get less than a metre from the cars. It’s an exhilarting feeling shooting this close to the cars and there are only a few spots around the world that allow us to get this close. My main long lens is a 600mm, which is a bloody monster, weighing 7 kilos and measuring about 70cm in length but it does get in tight and is (along with the 500mm) a staple of an F1 photographer’s kit. The shots below were the result of the 600mm lens on a Canon 1DX body.At some point in the session I thought I should head up into the grandstand and watch the goings-on like the public do. This also allowed me to work in the crowd for this shot. Then it was back down to ground level to see out the 90-minute session.On another note, my luggage finally turned up at my hotel today but only after many phone calls and some forceful talking on my part. It was good to have all of my photo kit and clean clothes back in my possession.
And finally, here’s Kimi Raikkonen’s helmet from 4 angles courtesy of Russell Batchelor.