Today was a great day to be an Aussie F1 photographer after Daniel Ricciardo (from my home city, Perth) came from 6th to finish first in the Chinese Grand Prix. He was well pumped after the race and I’ll go into more details shortly.
My day started with pics of the main players in and around the Paddock. I was hoping for one of the top 6 drivers to wander down this path as it looked great and with the sun out, it was begging to be shot. Here’s the head honcho of Ferrari Maurizio Arrivabene and his off-sider in nice light.I found Max Verstappen having brunch with the top 2 Red Bullers in Christian Horner (husband of Geri Halliwell) and Helmut Marko on their hospitality suite verandah. The interestingly dressed woman below is a very popular Chinese actress I was told but I can’t recollect her name. Do you know her?The drivers’ parade was uneventful except that afterwards, Lewis Hamilton jumped off the truck early and went over to 500 or so fans in the stand to take their photo on his iPhone. He was followed by a throng of photographers and cameramen and after taking their pic, he proceeded to run 150m towards the start line. I went for a jog with him to see what he was playing at and it turns out he’d simply dropped his Bose earpod from the truck and wanted to retrieve it.
A short time later we were back out to the pits and grid for the lead up to the race. If you’re a dance music fan you might know the fella on the left. He’s Armin Van Buuren, a lovely guy more than happy to have his picture taken.The drivers then climbed into their cars and took them out to the grid where there must be about 700 people all doing a job. Out on the track Sebastian Vettel was given some important and highly confidential information by the taller man in the bright red outfit.I took a plethora of other pics which you can see in the daily galleries but I need to get through this before my flight leaves Shanghai so we’ll jump to the national anthem where I get to stand directly behind the drivers to photograph them. And 12 minutes later all 20 cars headed off on a 300km trip around the Shanghai Circuit. The shot above is a “pool” shot given to a number of photographers as there is only a hole big enough in the fence at the end of the pit straight, for 4 photographers to fit in so it was agreed that the start shots would be shared. I was at turn 2 where no car touched another car or did anything out of the ordinary on the first, and subsequent 5 laps. Over the next 25 laps I moved to a few places and shot a myriad of digital images at both slow and fast shutter speeds.Then it was back to the Media Centre on the 9th floor where it is possible to shoot from the balcony which I did for 10 minutes or so.I listen to BBC Radio 5’s broadcast of the race via the F1 app so I get to hear what’s going on which is useful when there are no screens in sight. I knew Daniel Ricciardo was climbing through the field but didn’t expect him to carve through all 5 runners ahead of him and with a couple of laps left to go, while I was lined up with the other photographers to enter parc ferme, it was clear he was going to have an easy win. As he came into parc ferme, he lifted himself out of the cockpit and carefully stood on the halo before doing a super-hero jump to the ground. Thankfully I had a wide lens on one of my cameras so you can see how spectacular it was.Dan then collected a nice trophy for his efforts and seemed keen to show it to his team friends below.Then the Australian national anthem got a run on the PA and he got a little emotional. I might have also shed a little tear as I sang along with it, it was a nice feeling to hear our anthem at a race, the British and Germans are used to it of course. The last time I heard ours was in Baku last year when Dan drove like a demon to snatch a win.Then we had the spraying of bubbly followed by the famous “shoey”. I had to race back to the media centre to swap lenses and then headed down to the press conference room to hear Dan tell his story which he did with great enthusiasm and with that special smile.. At one point he was asked, “What would you have said if someone told you that Red Bull would win a race before Mercedes in 2018. He replied, “Good job. Yeah, pretty cool. Holy Testicle Tuesday!”
When the other drivers were answering questions Dan sat there just staring ahead in an almost state of bewilderment or disbelief. He was running through the events of the day in his head and was clearly amazed at how things went his way. It was a lot to take in and he was processing it as best he could.
His next commitment was interviews in the media pen and it was on his way there that I realised he only had one race shoe on. To take this pic, I had to lie down on the ground and push my camera through a number of people’s feet. Note too the elastic straps that hold his suit legs down. And the final shots I took today were of the Red Bull team celebrating with the winning driver and then that winning driver looking straight into my lens after I asked him for a smile for his Australian fans. Well done Dan, oh, and here’s the helmet of the day, this time it’s today’s second place-getter Kimi Raikkonen’s. My next race will be Monaco so keep an eye out for posts from that race then.