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Well, surprise, surprise, Valtteri Bottas came out on top in the Australian Grand Prix, the first race of the 2019 season and won a large bottle of Carbon champagne which he tried to skull.It was a great day to be in Melbourne with every grandstand seat sold and tens of thousands in the general admission areas.

Sydney model Jess Hart was in attendance on race day.  I’ll admit I had no idea who she was when I snapped her and her boyfriend James Kirkham in the paddock a couple of hours prior to shooting the above pic.  When I asked the couple who they were, Jess initially declined to comment but when I asked how I should caption the pic, she happily fessed up.  I now know a bit more about her and after Daniel retired early, he got a hug from the Aussie beauty as he made his way back to the Renault suite in the paddock. It turns out she and boyfriend were guests of Daniel’s.

Being the opening race there was a photo opportunity on the track where all 20 drivers were required to attend. Fourteen wore sunnies, 2 went capless and Sergio Perez was distracted. Below is another angle of the group.From there it was straight to the drivers’ parade where some of Melbourne’s finest  vintage cars were rolled out.  Here, Lewis Hamilton perfectly presented his can of Monster sugar syrup to the world’s media lined up on the side of the track.From this angle the Australia/Melbourne sign could be positioned perfectly above the drivers as they headed down the straight. I do like the joy of being on the grid prior to the race where we are able to get close to the drivers, cars and celebrities. I wanted a shot of Daniel Ricciardo’s green and gold racing boots and helmet which required me to almost lie on the ground to get these low angled shots. I was trying out the Laowa 24mm macro lens and it was perfect for this shot. So “what the hell is that?”, I hear your cry?  It’s one of Nico Hulkenberg’s moulded in-ear headphones.  The actual camera lens, which is only 15mm wide but about 40cm long, is about 3cm from the earpiece enabling me to focus on the detail.

For the start, I shot from a photo window on the inside of the track between turns 1 and 2 and witnessed Charles Leclerc run wide and kick up plenty of dust. My eldest son Tyler shot from the tower just behind me and here’s his view of the same moment.And here’s a rare two shot of the two Illmans in the paddock courtesy of Ivan Olle. I’d not previously ventured to the outside of the last corner so I took the 12 minute walk there from turn 1 and was amazed at just how close these cars get to us. Let there be no doubt the experience is quite exhilarating with the noise of the tyres over the kerbing as loud (maybe even louder) than the engine noise. And while one must contort one’s body in order to get a good shot, the resultant pics were to my liking.  With a few laps to go, instead of heading to parc ferme to greet the top 3, I went to the other end of the pit lane to wait for the non-podium finishers.  Their minders/physios/press officers assemble en masse to present their charges with a cold towel, drink, cap and sponsor’s watch and then walk them to the TV interview pen.Here you get to see emotions and being one of only a couple of photographers present, it’s much easier to get a shot. Back at parc ferme Tyler waited for the top 3 drivers to exit parc ferme and found this lovely exchange between Lewis Hamilton and Angela Cullen.I’ve come to learn that Angela is quite a character and am thankful she plays up to my lens as she is good subject material and has quite a following on social media.Harking back to the Friday, I wasted the first third of the first practice session trying to get my long lens (600mm) to focus but alas it would not come good.  Thankfully Canon stepped in to provide me with a replacement for the remainder of the event; one of the many benefits of being a member of their Professional Services group.

On Friday afternoon I spent some time at turn 2 shooting the cars going away from me through a gap in the fencing and from ground level.  For the first time I noticed the small vapour trails that are visible on both sides of the rear wingand I snapped Toro Rosso rookie driver Alexander Albon running wide and kicking up plenty of dust.     Kimi went even further off road at turn 1 on the Friday and provided me with this lovely image.I enjoyed shooting from the tower on the far side of the track where the cars disappear behind the colourful crowd on the hill.  By having the shutter open for 1/40th of a second you can blur the colourful crowd and keep the car sharp if you pan at the same speed as the car.  Then there’s the city skyline.On the Saturday I spent FP3 in the pits shooting drivers getting into and out of cars.The shot below is taken at the end of pit lane where the drivers stop to practice their starts.  By using a long lens and focusing on the mirror you can see Nico Hulkenberg’s helmet although as soon as he starts to rev the engine, the mirror vibrates so much that the image in the mirror blurs. We are lucky that the Albert Park pit lane is bathed in sun during the mid-afternoon session which makes for much more vibrant images.So, all in all Melbourne threw on a marvellous opening round of the 2019 season and in closing, here are a few other of my favourite pics. Of course, you’ve seen just 41 of the 952 images I posted on my two distribution sites. You can see the entire collection at www.kymillman.com/f1 or download digital images or order prints at www.prostarpics.com.

More from Bahrain in 10 days time.