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2019 BELGIAN GRAND PRIX PRE-RACE BLOG

Welcome to Belgium where there was plenty of morning fog over the Spa track when I arrived at 7:30 this morning.

Early on, I wandered down to Eau Rouge and realised then that there was no longer an opportunity to shoot from behind the barriers at this bend. This was one of the iconic Spa shots but no longer will it be possible to shoot this shot, which is a shame. It appears that an incident in a previous race meant that it is now regarded as a red zone and as such no one can shoot from there.

Back in the paddock I came upon Sebastian Vettel outside the Ferrari garage with no other photographers around. He had ridden his Just Ride It bike to the track (manufactured in Melbourne and he told me he has two of them) and was chatting to two of his crew. After I had taken a number of pics I noticed Charles Leclerc pass close by me on my right and head over to the threesome where he shook hands with all of them including his teammate.This is a rare pic and I was pretty chuffed to have been in the right spot with the right lens and be able to capture it.

A little later in the morning I headed back to the top of Eau Rouge to shoot the drivers on their track walks.  But before any of them arrived, I spotted this Dutch Ferrari fan decked out exquisitely.Also up with us was British TV presenter Steve Jones doing a piece to camera on a deckchair. Then the drivers showed up.  One of the first was Charles and his crew.

Sebastian decided he’d race his trainer and strategist up the steep incline.And the Toro Rosso drivers chose to ride the circuit on Honda scooters. All morning people were suggesting that Kimi might not race this weekend due to an injury but the Finn dispelled those rumours at his morning press conference. To my surprise I found Lewis Hamilton without even looking and he even offered me a smile as he headed down to the paddock.I was lucky to find Kevin Magnussen playing soccer with his mate behind the garage and saw a rare glimpse of a very happy Dane.   The drivers have to head up a metal staircase to get from the paddock to the pits so I situated myself underneath the stairs and tried shooting through the steps.  I think I caught Max Verstappen by surprise.  Although Alex Albon spotted me and gave me a smile. Late in the afternoon I was given the tip that Max and Seb (the 2nd and 3rd biggest names in F1) would be doing a TV spot with Ziggo Sports presenters Jack and Ollie.  I headed up to the far end of the garages and waited for the two stars to arrive and greet each other.  And then I watched Jack Plooij thoroughly enjoy himself as he does, asking these two various true or false questions. In the end, both presenters put their mics on the ground and left the two drivers to interview each other.  It was something you’d pay big dollars to see at a sports night but it was on offer for free this afternoon.  Afterwards, the pair excused themselves and walked down a ramp where they had a quiet, private chat with their backs to the media for a few minutes.  I can’t tell you what they discussed, but I’m sure I, and you, would’ve found it of great interest if we’d been privvy to it.

And finally, Daniel Ricciardo was enjoying his day as usual,

George Russell was looking well tanned,and I liked this shot of the back of Pierre Gasly heading up to the pits in his race gear.Lastly, I’m happy to have my wife Tonya shooting with me here in Spa for this race AND she gets to celebrate her birthday tomorrow here in the Belgium countryside.  Happy birthday Tonya!


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