Lewis Hamilton notched up another win in Sao Paulo on Sunday and after extracting himself from his vehicle in parc ferme he rushed to embrace his team. However, the fence was not up to the challenge and he and his team quickly ended up on the deck. There were some marvelous shots to be found at this iconic track over the previous 3 days too. The cars come up a rise as they head into pit lane and I spent 45 minutes during one of the practice sessions focusing on these shots. On race day, when we’re allowed to stand on the other side of pit lane as the cars come through prior to the start, you get the flags behind the car.While traipsing through the below section of bush (which I should have been nowhere near), I came within 80cm of a brown snake. It was lazing, coiled up just outside it’s burrow. Thankfully it chose to retreat instead of attack. I’m not sure how dangerous the bite would’ve been and I’m thankful I didn’t find out. But that wasn’t the only wildlife I found. These owls are all around the track and live in burrows underground.Shades of my wildlife photography days in Africa here.
The Interlagos track is surrounded by housing so it’s possible to get high rise apartments and low rise favelas in the background which identifies the track and makes for nice images.
I photographed two very popular local women a few hours before the race start on Sunday. I asked this woman for her name. “Anitta” she replied. And your surname? “Just Anitta” she said with a smile. Turns out she has 30 million Instagram followers (@anitta) and is a major Brazilian pop star (and a good friend of Lewis Hamilton’s). The other woman was popular local actress Marina Ruy Barboso and they were doing hot laps in a Renault with Nico Hulkenberg.
I got some lovely shots of the two women in Lewis’ life (well his F1 racing life), Angela and Rosa, who were actively engaged in conversation in the paddock on Saturday. I liked the picture below for the fence that runs the length of the main straight.The shot below is rare to find; grass in the foreground, sky behind and no sign of a fence. While I didn’t catch the moment that this Renault hit the fence, it is clear from the image that it was a fair shunt.While shooting the action on track is the most challenging facet of F1 photography the more popular images on my Instagram account involve the people in the paddock and on the grid. People like Jacques Villeneuve’s wife Camila. Snapped above with the colourful ex-F1 driver, now commentator. The drivers’ girlfriends and wives are also popular. Here’s Fernando Alonso’s stunning girlfriend Linda Morselli. It is refreshing when a woman like Linda looks down the lens. Below is Stoffel Vandoorne’s girlfriend Anna de Ferran. And this group shot features Brazilian model Carolina Dias (3rd from left) and next to her the girlfriend of a Golden State Warriors basketballer. I was told this by another photographer but perhaps you can shed some light on her identity? The woman below is no international model but she captured the attention of more than a few photographers for her overalls, standing out from the crowd and happy to to be photographed out the front of the paddock.And while we’re talking fashion, I was taken aback with this women’s jeans in the foyer of my Sao Paulo hotel. That’s a fair statement right there!I covered the start of the race from turn 2 and all cars got through without incident. I was still there thankfully when Max Verstappen, who was leading the race at the time and looked set for a win, collided with back-marker Esteban Ocon. Unfortunately I was shooting at 1/40th of a second doing some arty shots and while the majority of shots were too blurry, this one gives you an idea of the happening.After the race Max fronted Esteban and started shoving him about. It cost Max 2 day’s community service as decreed by the FIA.
From the same spot we get to shoot the cars coming out of the pits where we can stand right up next to the barriers. This is not only a buzz, it provides the opportunity to shoot some slower speed stuff resulting in blurred backgrounds and sharp helmets if done right.
The atmosphere on the podium was the best of any circuit I’ve experienced, with a huge band belting out samba music on the track behind uswhile carnival-style dancers lit up the stage in front of us. In the post-race interviews in the paddock media pen, Lewis was looking after a team sponsor, holding a Monster can right up next to his face in somewhat of an awkward pose that would have put a smile on the sponsor’s face.
And one final pic of a local woman full of optimism holding this sign up at the main entrance where the teams drive in to the circuit. I’m unsure if she was successful but full marks for initiative. It’s back to Perth for me for a week until the final race in Abu Dhabi. Bye bye.