Grey skies over Suzuka didn’t keep away the enthusiastic Japanese F1 crowd today. They were out in force but it was these toddlers dressed in Renault suits that stole the show.They were guests of a few teams in the paddock.
My day started early with a Shinkansen ride from Tokyo to Nagoya. Unfortunately, I missed my next train, costing me 30 minutes, I then got off at the wrong station, got on the wrong train for my next attempt and ended up miles away from my destination. I was then forced to enlist the help of locals to call me a taxi. Two hours later then I had planned, I arrived at the track where there were enthusiastic fans everywhere. The thing I love about this country is how people are so polite. Have a look at the barriers they erect to stop people getting too close to the garages on the pit walks. At most other races organisers are forced to put up 1.1m high metal barriers and even then they struggle to hold back the crowd.
The 3pm press conference featured these 4 drivers, 3 of whom still don’t have a drive next year. Thousands turned up late in the afternoon for the autograph session. This was the only opportunity I had to snag a shot of Lewis Hamilton. He was seldom spotted in the paddock and certainly didn’t have to do promotional stunts like playing giant Jenga like Lando Norris and Stoffel Vandoorne had to. He did take a sneaky shortcut through the Renault garage on his way back to the paddock though, much to the amazement of the mechanics.Seb’s and Kimi’s Ferraris will look markedly different this weekend after new Mission Win Now logos were plastered all over them. It’s branding for tobacco giant Phillip Morris although I’m not sure what they are hoping to achieve from it. The “Most colourful shoes in the paddock” award was taken out by Juca Viapri, a Mexican vlogger with near 3 million followers. He was at the race to promote the upcoming Mexican GP. I caught up with Lewis Hamilton’s press officer today to give her a print of the photo below which I love. I had never had much to do with her until I snapped this shot. My online research showed up her name as Charlie Rose, so that’s what I captioned the pic with on Instagram. It turns out that’s not her name, it’s actually Rosa Herrero Venegas. She pointed that out to me after I addressed her as Charlie when I gave her the print. She was good natured about it and we chatted for 10 minutes or so about the Charlie Rose myth (I’m not the first to have been fooled).
My favourite Japanese Illustrator Akio Kouketsu produced cut outs for Seb’s press officer Britta Roeske and RedBull press officer James Ranson and delivered them to the respective recipients in the paddock. They are quite marvelous pieces of art.
One of the most impressively dressed men in the paddock today was this guest of Mercedes Benz decked out in a Louis Vuitton x Supreme denim jacket worth upwards of US$5,000. He was also sporting a Louis Vuitton x Supreme bum bag and Nike x Off-White blazers (I know this because my 18-year old son is with me this race and is totally clued up on the latest fashions).
A local fan presented Daniel Ricciardo with this head band, which he quickly donned and posed for me.It was a pleasant day at the track with mild temperatures and grey skies. Tomorrow and Saturday look like being the same but there is some hope for clear skies for race day. Remember, you can order prints of any of my images by clicking on the Fine Art Store link at Kymillman.com and I’ll leave you with a shot I took at Shibuya Crossing on Tuesday night.