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2019 AZERBAIJAN GRAND PRIX POST-RACE BLOG

Another Mercedes 1-2 finish, with it being Valtteri Bottas’ turn to take line honours in Baku. He was on pole but was beaten to the first corner by Lewis but regained the lead into turn 2. Yesterday there was a touch of glamour in the paddock. And these three Londoners stood out in their fine suits.  The trio attend one race each year dressed in these suits and have done so for the past 22 years. The drivers’ parade saw Lewis running late and having to sprint to the truck. On the grid I found a serious looking Renault driver contemplating the upcoming race.I shot the drivers standing for the national anthem from low down with a wide angle lens.  I must say that listening to the Azerbaijan anthem reminded me of Borat’s hilarious version of the Kazhakstan anthem. The Baku track is very long so I decided to stay around turns 1 and 2 for the race to allow me to return the paddock in time for the finish.  It’s always preferable to shoot through photography holes like this one at turn one. It gives you some protection and allows for shots like this.The buildings butt right up against the track and make good backdrops. There are plenty of shadows on the track so waiting for the cars to move into the lit sections provides nice contrast. Unable to get the BBC radio coverage or being able to see a screen, I had no idea what was happening in the race but I did notice that Daniel had retired.  I asked his trainer Michael what had happened when I saw him in the paddock and he told me that Daniel had backed into Daniil Kvyat.  Finding this out was a stroke of good luck for me as I saw Daniel walk past Daniil in the interview pen and thought there might be an interaction. There was, with Dan apologising to Dan for hitting him.  With another Mercedes win, I decided to remain in the paddock and shoot the other drivers coming out of the FIA garage.  Kimi looked like he’d come straight out of the coal mines. But it was Lance Stroll who was the happiest, giving his trainer a big man-hug. Harking back to Saturday I met a couple of avid fans; Carly from Yorkshire who adores Sebastian Vettel, so much so she’s had her arm tattooed in his honour, “Never Stop Believing” with a star for each of his world championships.She gave both Seb and Britta gifts.As did Lewis Fan, Enfield44 who gave Lewis a Louis Vuitton gift which certainly got his attention. I was pretty happy to nab this shot of the world champion outside his hospitality suite which shows some protective taping over a tattoo I believe he had re-inked a day or so earlier.On his left hand he had a new tattoo done on Thursday or Friday by tattoo artist, Balazs Bercsenyi who travelled from Budapest to do it.

Getting shots of Kimi Raikkonen in the paddock is trickier this year given the Alfa Romeo team is situated at the opposite end of the paddock to the leading teams but I waited for him to go from his suite to the garage prior to FP3 and was rewarded. An hour on Saturday morning in the pits yielded some colourful shots.But car pics rarely attract as much interest on social media as people shots do.  While waiting outside the Hilton for the drivers to finish their press conference on Saturday night,  Lewis’ trainer Angela Cullen, who was waiting with his scooter,  shouted “Hey take a picture of me jumping!”  It was one of my most popular pics from the weekend.I caught Sky Italia TV presenter Federica Masolin chilling out on her on-air partner’s shoulder and pressed the shutter button to record the moment.  On Friday, FP1 came to an abrupt halt when George Russell lifted a manhole cover that wiped out the bottom of his Williams.  I was just around the corner when I noticed the red flags (session stopped) and then heard on my slightly delayed BBC radio broadcast that he’d pulled up at turn 3.  These were my shots from 500m away. And here is the car en route to the pits.  See the crane? Well, in that raised position it’s too high to fit under the footbridges over the track. We know this because this crane whacked one of these bridges which meant that had to be structurally checked and then oil leaked from the cracked crane all over the Williams.  So a right balls-up all round.

Later in the afternoon, FP2 surprisingly took place at the scheduled time and the light at the castle was glorious.  I shot high from this most precarious spot,to get shots like these.And then went to ground level for what I think might one of the best and unique backgrounds on offer in this sport.Most of the drivers were staying at the Marriott adjacent to the track and they walked out of the hotel and across the footbridge to be in the paddock in just a few minutes. Shooting them coming down the stairs after crossing the track, it’s possible to fill the background with the huge F1 promotional sign on the Marriott.  Here Daniel Ricciardo has some fun with me.Lewis Hamilton was flying the Puma flag sporting a new tie-dyed t-shirt as he glided through the paddock on 2 wheels.I’d like to say I planned the below shot, but that would be untrue.  I was waiting on the bridge when the teams, who are subject to an entrance curfew, entered en masse at the same time and from both ends of the paddock, producing a sea of mechanics. So they were some of my memories of Baku on the Caspian Sea.  In 9 days it’s back to Europe for the Spanish GP and I hope you will be with me for that event. Bye for now!


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