The Chinese GP was one of my busiest and most eventful races so here comes my longest ever blog. Ready?
Lewis Hamilton won! Well, let’s be honest, he wins most of them doesn’t he and he was sporting a huge smile on the podium.In no particular order, here are the things that stood out to me between Friday and Sunday. Valtteri Bottas walking straight over me while I was on the ground shooting him.The Mercedes driver had a broad grin on his face as he stepped over me following me taking his pic. There were very few people around, so I had no qualms about getting low for a better pic. I had no idea my friend Alice Wright was right behind me and took the shot (2 above) as evidence.
These fans were in the main grandstand proudly and loudly supporting their favourite driver, Daniel Avocado from down under.Charles and Pierre chatted as they headed on to the grid for a large group photo featuring drivers, team bosses and other F1 luminaries. It was to celebrate the 1,000th F1 race but I shot from side-on where I witnessed some looper (centre of frame) race up to Lewis demanding a selfie. First his press officer Rosa (right) pulled him away after Lewis rightly turned his back on the punter who he kept insisting on a shot. It took a number of seconds before he was eventually ushered away by security.Once again Charles Leclerc soaked up the atmosphere on the grid seated near his car although he had far fewer media around him than in Bahrain. Was he praying for another podium?
I shot the start of the race from turn 2 and went to 1 and 3 before ending up near turn 4 for a variety of shots. The most exciting thing I saw was Charles Leclerc defend against Valtteri Bottas (below), otherwise it was just cars filing past in an orderly (but fast) fashion.I arrived back at the media centre with 6 laps to go and shot from the balcony 9 floors up for a couple of laps. Here’s Pierre Gasly on his own in front of a grandstand that was almost full.And on the other side of the garages, while the race was in still progress, the teams had already started work on dismantling their elaborate set ups.The other funny moment for me involved this picture of Nico Hulkenberg and his trainer that I shot in Abu Dhabi testing last year.I gave him 2 copies in Bahrain, one for him and one that I hoped he might sign for me. I always ask the driver to pen a quick note about the shot so when I saw him arriving yesterday the chap on the right, Martin Poole (his trainer) said “Give us 10 minutes we’ll get it signed now.” Ten minutes later Nico emerged from his driver’s room and confessed he wasn’t feeling “creative enough” but he would do it later.
When I finally got a message from Martin to collect it, I nipped down from the media centre. Indeed he had been quite creative and very cheeky scrawling, “Making an AVG (average) photographer look GREAT! your (sic) welcome!!!” And then he added an “artistic?” touch to the faces. This will make a nice addition to my collection on display at my Perth office of Messages On Hold Australia (messagesonhold.com.au).I must say I was amazed at the fashion on offer in China. Here are a couple of women who stood out in the paddock. But the fashion stores in the Wanda Mall near the track were the best I’d ever seen. Not the same boring stuff you see in most western malls, this gear was right out there; colourful and adventurous!
Charles Leclerc’s girlfriend Giada Gianni was at the track Saturday and Sunday. She is quite a catch, instantly likeable and with a warm smile. I was happy to have a few minutes shooting with her in the lush gardens adjacent to the paddock on Saturday.Daniel Ricciardo’s father Joe (below right) was at the race too, along with a couple of associates from Perth, my home town and they would have been happy and relieved to see Dan finally chalk up some points for Renault.I caught Dan and the other non-podium drivers coming out of the FIA garage after the race where I had them all to myself. Sebastian Vettel made ex-racers Damon Hill and Johnny Herbert laugh early on race day when the paddock was very quiet.On Saturday I was able to position myself at the exit of pit lane so I could shoot the cars coming towards me with the hi-rise buildings behind.The cars stopped right in front of me to practice their starts which is how I could get this tight shot of the tyre spinning, a split second after the driver floored the accelerator.And in the below shot you can make out the steering wheel in the reflection of Charles’ helmet.It was also on Saturday that Alexander Albon had a big crash towards the end of FP1. He walked away from it.Harking back to Friday there were plenty of sparks heading into turn 1.And on that note I must now publish this and get on an aircraft. Next race – Baku. Unsure if I will be there but I will definitely be back at Barcelona in early May. Happy Easter to you all and enjoy these bonus pics from China, they were my favourites. Over and Out!