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Well the F1 season kicked off in Melbourne today for me and I was delighted to be back snapping away. Today is typically about the fans and drivers with the cars parked up in the garages for almost all of the day.

The fellow below was positioned along the Melbourne Walk waiting for the drivers and key personnel to file past. He was obviously supporting the home driver, Daniel Ricciardo, who hopefully does well in this year’s opener having had to pull out of last year’s race minutes before the start.I caught Christian Horner trying to abduct some woman’s baby as he arrived at the track.She put up a more spirited fight than Christian who eventually relented, handing the youngster back to a relieved mum.  Kimi Raikkonen arrived and was holding a selfie stick posting something to social media, something new for the man of few words.  After he tired of that, he handed it back to the Ferrari photographer and proceeded to sign this woman’s breast (well the material covering it).All this was going on while stuffed koalas, cable tied to gum trees ,were watching from above.Jimmy from Mercedes Benz was back again for another season and his moustache is looking as spectacular as ever.Today I was trying out a new Profoto flash and it was a real joy to use.  Here it lights up Sergio Perez in fine fashion as he talked to fans on his way in. On one of the pitwalks I found this young woman.  I think she’s Japanese and I’ve photographed her at 3 different grands prix and she’s always wearing this suit. She is certainly an ardent fan.

Just inside the paddock is this marvelous piece of art painted large on one of the buildings; it caused many to stop and admire it.

The Melbourne paddock is quite condensed but has some character unlike Shanghai which is just a vast concreted area with nothing happening. At noon, the drivers made there way down one end of the paddock for the annual driver portrait session.  Last year it was shot in front of a 1m wide x 2.2m high black panel but this year I decided to bring my backdrop system set up by my son Tyler who’s working his first GP.  The backdrop made a world of difference to our shots. What about Marcus Ericsson’s hair, it’s sublime!Lance Stroll struggled with the smile; he often does, looking strained in posed pics, Brendan Hartley scrubbed up well and was one of only two drivers to greet the 40 or so assembled photographers. Can you guess the other one?Fernando Alonso looked as smooth as usual but wouldn’t take his Kimoa sunnies off as they are a major sponsor.The star of the F1 show, Lewis Hamilton, looked sharp for his portrait.  Although it has to be said, he was the least interested in the whole photo session, hanging around for less than a minute and showing he clearly wasn’t relishing the session.  There was much comment among the media when he departed. At the opposite end of the spectrum was Daniel Ricciardo (the second driver to address us). He was jovial and more than happy to look at every photographer allowing them to get a shot of him looking down their lens.After that there was a driver press conference featuring Daniel, Lewis and Sebastian. Daniel was a little more reserved than normal, Sebastian sported an “interesting” hairstyle and Lewis laughed on a few occasions although he did say he’s done so many of these pre-season conferences that he hardly looks forward to them. So that was the Melbourne GP on Thursday.  Tomorrow promises plenty with the cars on track for 2 x 90min sessions in good weather.  I’ll probably be heading to turn 6 in the morning to see if the new cars will bottom out like they did last year at the same point.  If they do, this sort of shot could be on the cards again.  Oh, and if you haven’t yet seen the new F1 promo, here it is.  It’s pretty cool!