Valtteri Bottas earned the right to start in front of every other driver in tomorrow’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix by virtue of setting the fastest time in qualifying today. I know this to be true as I watched him do it from the roof of the trackside Viceroy Hotel. This hotel is packed full this weekend with the rich, famous and beautiful out in force. In fact, I don’t think I seen more stunning women and better dressed guys anywhere this year. It was a pleasure to spend an hour on the rooftop at dusk for qualifying.
The beauty of this spot is there are so many shots to be had and very little walking to be done. I dragged out my tilt shift lens for a few minutes and then tried my 8mm fish eye, both providing interesting perspectives. The qualifying session started at 5pm with the sun nearing the horizon and there was plenty of action on the luxury yachts moored in the marina. It’s not quite the same mood as Monaco Harbour but there were certainly plenty of people enjoying the mild winter’s day (27 degrees). Earlier in the day the final practice session took place under clear skies and I started at the far end of the track and worked my way back to turn 1 over the 60 minutes. There aren’t many spots where it’s possible to shoot low through the armco fence so when I see an opportunity I grab it. It puts a graduated darkening effect top and bottom and provides a view where you can often see under the car as was the case as the cars exited the hairpin. I worked my way back to turn one where this window (below) allows us to shoot the cars just a few metres away as they negotiate the left hander. The attraction here is the tower which looks great against the blue sky.At that corner it is possible to shoot the cars as they turn in but it needs to be shot at a very fast speed to freeze the cars.Prior to that practice session I shot some general stuff including this attraction out in the fanzone where you just freefall into a net. Australian cyclist Mark Cavendish tried his hand at racing on the simulator.I found a steering wheel perched nicely on the top of a car and using a 600mm lens, was able to get in tight on it. It’s an impressive piece of kit.I then let the lovely Julia from Red Bull Racing have a crack at taking a pic with the monster lens; she did alright. One thing that did create a buzz was the entrance of the Etihad Airways grid girls who were immaculately dressed in a stylish black outfit with bright red lipstick. And there were about 70 of them.My last qualifying day for the year was a good one, at one of the best tracks on the calendar and while the drivers don’t rate the track that highly (it doesn’t have any fast corners), from a photography point of view it gets a thumbs up from me.
Oh, and my final pic of the day was this shot of a smiling Daniel Ricciardo.
Tomorrow sees the end of the 8 month/20-race season and I can’t wait!