It looked like Sebastian Vettel was going to chalk up another win after starting from pole position yesterday, but with just 18 laps to go, his Ferrari couldn’t handle the slippery track and he slid off into the tyre barrier at the 3rd last corner. Luckily I was shooting from just next to the video cameraman in the rear of the shot above and was able to sprint the 80 metres to a spot where I could get a clean shot of the stationary Ferrari.As he walked away from his vehicle, a clearly emotional Seb kicked the stones knowing he’d let slip a win that would have extended his lead in the 2018 championship. He then spied the replay of the incident on the big screen above and I did feel for the fella seeing the look in his eyes from a few metres away. The day started out great for the German though as he got away from pole position and rounded turn 3 in front of Bottas and Kaikkonen. I shot from that spot for a while but saw nothing but cars negotiating that turn in single file. I wandered around to a few corners hoping for some action and was rewarded with a couple of overtakes and undertakes.While hoping for something exciting to happen, there were the usual shots of cars going about their racing business. Then, after Seb’s crash, the safety car was deployed which bunched the field up and provided some closer racing. But Lewis was too good, coming from 14th on the grid to finish first past the post to chalk up win no. 4 this season and he was pretty chuffed about it. Just as the first driver took to the podium, the heavens opened big time rendering it extremely difficult to shoot anything. While I was able to throw on a rain jacket, it was my cameras and lenses that I was more worried about but luckily they suffered no damage. At one stage back in the media room afterwards, there were 5 photographers all with their sodden shirts off as they changed into whatever dry clothes they had.
The day had started out magnificently with the drivers’ parade and grid presentation taking place in nice light. I shot the drivers getting into their individual vintage cars for the parade and then headed to the stadium to catch them with the crowd behind and in good light as they neared the end of their lap waving to thousands of fans. I managed to get the attention of a number of them and was thankful to have them look down the lens. We’re allowed onto the grid 40 minutes prior to the start of the race and for 25 minutes it’s a race to capture as much of the madness as you can. Drivers, cars, celebrities (there were none of the international variety at this race) and TV crews abound. Early on on Sunday I positioned myself just outside the paddock to shoot the arriving drivers where there were fewer photographers and just a few autograph hunters, allowing for cleaner shots of the drivers like Kevin Magnussen getting a good luck kiss from his girlfriend. Kimi was on the phone as he negotiated the autograph/selfie hunters and as a result, managed to avoid stopping once on his way in.On Friday and Saturday though, Lewis Hamilton was playing hard to get as he entered the paddock. He’d just signed a new 2-year contract with Mercedes but was none to keen to be photographed/videod, putting his hands in front of his face and trying to find sneaky back entrances. Harking back to Saturday, the rain washed out most of the final practice session which I spent in the pits. It wasn’t the heavy rain like we experienced post-race on Sunday so it was OK to shoot in and provided some different looking shots for me. One upside with a rainy session is that the drivers will often hang around in the garage, in their kit but out of their car. This provides opportunities for portrait shots that are otherwise hard to get. The rain disappeared in time for qualifying later on Saturday and with Lewis Hamilton’s car breaking down at the end of Q1, this left the door open for Sebastian Vettel to claim pole position which he did and was mighty pleased with himself. On the Friday the weather was hot and the skies clear and blue which allowed for some fine shooting opportunities. Initially I went to the top level of grand stand at the final turn which was great, and shaded. Later in the morning session and again in the afternoon session I spent my time ground level around the last few corners and the first corner. One bonus was that prior to each Friday and Saturday session, Sauber’s Charles Leclerc would loosen up 45 minutes before each session right in front of the media centre. It was like a private photo shoot for the 6 or so photographers who chose to shoot the up and coming driver. With 3 days off I’ve headed to Hamburg with the Message in a Bottle my wife and I (well it was really her) found in Western Australia in January this year. It is the oldest of its type and we’re being hosted by the Hamburg Maritime Museum for a media day tomorrow which will be amazing. If you haven’t read about the extraordinary find, do so here.
More F1 from Budapest on Thursday.