Thankfully the forecast of rain never eventuated leaving the Austrian Grand Prix to be run on a dry track in front of a good crowd, a crowd up 58% over last year. They got to see an exciting race that saw Vatteri Bottas hold off Sebastian Vettel for the win, with Daniel Ricciardo 3rd.
I expected mega traffic at this event but getting to and from the track was a breeze thanks to some fine organisation. Security was strong and there were a hundreds of police with machine guns patrolling the perimeter, some wearing balaclavas and carrying a crazy amount of gear. I would have liked to have included a pic but thought better of it.
Again, the drivers/team owners rolled up to do the green carpet walk, however media access was severely limited unlike the previous day so I shot a couple of pics from the 3rd floor media centre. We’re shooting through very thick glass so the quality is not what you’d get if shooting normally but the angle is interesting. I didn’t get down to the paddock until later than normal and missed the drivers arriving but I did like this shot of 60-year old Ferrari team boss Maurizio Arrivabene’s magnificent head of hair. The Ferrari team are extremely stylish, of that there is no doubt. The Italians are well dressed in their tight fitting red outfits and always look the part, they are the standouts in the sport.While the drivers headed out to the straight to board the transport that takes them around the track to wave to the crowd on their parade lap, I headed to the stand just after turn 1 where 10,000 (an estimate) orange-shirt-wearing Max Verstappen fans awaited the Red Bull drivers. Prior to the drivers arriving, 5 traditionally dressed grid girls gee-ed up the crowd. I tested my flash by asking a fellow photographer, Mark Thompson from Getty Images to be my model. Mark’s a funny bastard, sharp witted and handy with the camera, in fact he hasn’t missed an F1 race in 18 years he proudly sprouts and the photo of him is one of my favourites from the day. Shortly after that, Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen alighted from the transport vehicle and went up on the bank to throw out some hats and fire t-shirts into the crowd.As you can see, both were wearing lederhosen as were team heirachy back in the hospitality suite. Max wanted a selfie and Dan was happy to pose for a photo on his own with the crowd behind when I asked. Then it was into, well really onto, a Merc and they headed off to complete their parade lap. For the start of the race I was positioned at turn 3, the tight right hander at the top of the track. From here I had a great view of the copter carrying the Austrian flag and the aerial display. I set up a remote camera facing uphill towards the corner while I moved 30m downhill and shot the cars coming towards me. Every time I pressed the shutter, the 2nd camera took a pic so I got two shots for the effort involved taking one. I was right next to the waist high armco fence and given the cars are hurtling up that hill, if one gets out of shape there is an element of risk that it could end up in the fence a metre away from me. Anyway, that didn’t happen so no damage done.Here is the action from the remote camera, attached to a cameraman’s shade shelter about 1.682m from the ground, shooting at f10 at 1/2,500ths of a second so the cars are sharp. I worked that corner from several angles for the first 34 minutes of the race. Then I caught the photographers’ shuttle bus to the second last corner to shoot the signature Red Bull Ring image. The above shots were taken from the outside of the second last corner. The pic below shows where I was and the angle I shot to get the unique effect.With 25 minutes left in the race I walked back to the media centre, changed lenses and headed under the track and through the paddock to wait for the parc ferme and podium shots. There was the standard mad dash to secure a position on the fence and because I was a little late to join the queue I had little choice in where I got to stand but it made no difference in the end and the pics of the drivers arriving and getting out of their cars were fine. I purposely framed the no. 1 sign in the shot above as it tells a story and was used as a banner pic on the F1.com site. Note the beautiful locally-themed mural on the ground.Have a look at the crap that is on Sebastian Vettel’s tyre after the race. After a few minutes delay where the drivers towel down and rehydrate, it was time for the podium with each driver individually introduced to the crowd, 3rd first, 2nd second and 1st third. It is mandatory for all drivers to wear the tyre sponsor cap (Pirelli) for this part of the presentation and then they respectively take them off for the playing of the two national anthems (the Finnish anthem for the winning driver and the German anthem for the winning team).It’s fair to say that Daniel Ricciardo outshone the other two drivers on the podium and does most of the time he is up there (the last 5 races in a row). It was suggested by one of the photographers that Dan provide podium presentation training for the other drivers. I’m not sure if winner Valtteri Bottas is just mega-shy but he just didn’t look as overjoyed as a winner should be on the podium. When it came time to spray the champagne, Dan jumped straight into it while Bottas and Vettel took their time grabbing their bottles and then had a swig before bothering to spray it around. And then it was time for Martin Brundle to drink from Daniel’s shoe. The shoe was claimed by Martin to be auctioned at a charity event. Dan’s other shoe ended up in the crowd. Dan offered Valtteri the chance to have a go but he swatted the shoe away.
I didn’t do the after-race press conference but wish I had done so as there was another funny moment where Daniel pinched Bottas’ nipple in a joking gesture towards the end of the conference. Alas it wasn’t to be .
I will miss this track and in particular the lovely view from the media centre, it was a pleasure to be holed up in there during the 4 days.Oh, and remember I mentioned at the start of this blog that the forecast for rain didn’t eventuate. Well while I was dining with good friends Cole Maguire and Blanca Brooke a couple of hours after the race, a spectacular storm rolled over, producing 15mm diameter hailstones. Imagine the chaos that would have caused had it happened mid-race.
Now my friends, I’m off to Munich to catch a flight to London in advance of the British Grand Prix at Silverstone next weekend.
Auf wiedersehn from Austria.