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2019 MONACO GRAND PRIX PRE-RACE BLOG

I love Monaco!  And shooting here is always a joy and that’s what I’ve been doing today.

I was waiting to shoot Daniil Kvyat as he arrived but he was signing pictures from two fans. So I waited. And waited, and waited while these two guys put pic after pic of Daniil in front of him for signing.  They were professional autograph sellers and I couldn’t believe how many they thrust in front of the Toro Rosso driver. It must’ve tallied 25 or more and Daniil just kept on signing them.  I thought he showed great patience and more respect than most drivers would have. No doubt they’ll end up on eBay.

While some drivers braved the open streets of Monaco to walk the track,Charles Leclerc took the smarter and quicker option of cycling it.  Given his huge popularity in this his home race, he would have been mobbed if he’d walked, so instead, he used his own very impressive bike, featuring his name and logo all over it. Sebastian Vettel was literally running (late) for his seating fitting in the Ferrari garage. He forged a path through the fans to get to the garage in quick time.Legendary racer Michael Schumacher’s son Mick was in the pits.My eldest son Tyler was also at the track shooting with me and what a great thrill that is for me to be able to have me join me.  Thankfully I’ve got a few more photographic tricks up my sleeve than him but he is making up ground and quickly so I ought to enjoy my top ranking in the Illman family while it lasts. Lewis Hamilton made the 200metre journey from the paddock to the pits via a fine looking motorcycle. He was, of course, kitted out in Tommy Hilfiger gear and looked rugged up.I was on the lookout for mentions of Niki Lauda on the cars or in the pits and paddock but the only thing I saw was this decal on the Toro Rosso car. The Austrian great passed away on Monday aged 70 and flicking back through my images of the great man I remembered fondly finding him in the Mercedes hospitality suite at the Canadian GP in 2017 and he happened to look right at me the moment I clicked this shot. It’s one of my favourite F1 images. You might remember my Instagram post this week about the security guy and the cameraman who got into a shouting and shoving match last year at this race? Well, here is that very cameraman in a much happier mood with Federica Masolin in the pits.  Last night I popped up to the hill above the track to admire the view of this very small country. And impressive it was. I thought this looked interesting; the floor of a Racing Point car being lowered to the mechanics on the ground. I can’t recall that happening at any other track but that’s because space is at a premium here so gear is stored wherever it can be. Here’s a shot of Max Verstappen for those Dutch fans who will be looking forward to F1 returning to the Netherlands next year. Will there be anyone not in orange?How about this woman’s bouffant hairstyle? I didn’t spot Daniel Ricciardo until very late in the day and when I did, he’d just tossed a water bottle up to the 2nd storey of one of the motorhomes in the paddock to test his chucking skills. I thought he gave it a little too much oomph and would not have scored maximum points but there’s no doubting the Australian is loving life even if he’s finding it a little tougher at his new home than he would’ve perhaps envsiaged.

And finally, I found this in the middle of the paddock but cannot confirm if anyone has been honouring the promise and doling out or receiving free hugs. So that ends my pre-race blog, typed in the Monaco media centre which resembles a daggy classroom in a very old school.  More pics and stories tomorrow!  Cheers.


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