I’m lucky to be alive after the drive from our hotel to the track today. The media shuttle bus driver was a lunatic, doing up to 100km/hr through the suburbs and racing through red lights in his tatty Ford minibus. And have a look at his clever hack to stop his seat belt retracting (and working). That aside, today was the coldest F1 day of my short 23 race career with the temperature reaching just 13 degrees C with a howling wind. Only last year’s British Grand Prix came close to this level of cold.
Unfortunately for Daniel Ricciardo his car was way too hot after his engine caught fire in FP3 resulting in his car having to be pushed back down pitlane to his garage. That meant Daniel was resigned to watching the rest of the session on the monitors in the Red Bull garage.Things got a little too hot for Romain Grosjean too as his brakes caught fire in front of me as he returned to his garage.One of the nice things about doing a session in the pits is capturing pics of the drivers getting into the cockpit. It’s a trickier affair this year given the halo. Here’s Stoffel Vandoorne.Lewis Hamilton lets us know Bose is a sponsor by bowing to the assembled media prior to lowering himself into his Mercedes. And this partially obscured figure is Sergio Perez easing himself into his Force India.Standing in the pits and panning with the cars on track allows a shot like this of Max Verstappen and the one underneath of Carlos Sainz. The rich colours in the top part of the picture are the seats and people in the main stand. Today that stand was about 1/3rd full, hopefully tomorrow it’ll approach full.
There is a nice shot of the cars coming into the pits with some buildings behind them and I spent the last few minutes of the morning session there as all the cars returned.Qualifying took place at 2pm and Kimi Raikkonen was looking fast as he approached the hairpin. Yesterday morning there were 12 people in the stand behind him, today there were significantly more but still well short of full. I shot a variety of pics from different vantage points in this session but all were shot under grey skies. And then I went down to parc ferme to shoot the 10 drivers who made it into Q3, taking the chequered flag at the conclusion of qualifying. Quickest was Sebastian Vettel from Kim Raikkonen and in 3rd, Valtteri Bottas. There was the post qualifying press conference where Seb smiled. And Kimi didn’t. And then a quick look at who was being interviewed in the TV pen in the paddock. Tomorrow’s race starts at 2pm local time and with Ferrari on the front row, both Mercedes on row 2 and the 2 Red Bulls on row 3 it should prove an interesting race.
And finally, today’s featured helmet is that of Lance Stroll.And here he is today wearing it while waiting to go out for FP3.