The facilities here at the Red Bull Ring are fantastic, and little wonder given the owner of Red Bull spent some 240+million Euro on the track.
Our expansive and palatial Media Centre is on the top floor of the main grandstand building and when I arrived this morning there was a sizable crowd waiting out the front to catch a glimpse of the arriving F1 luminaries. As the morning wore on, the crowd grew and so I spent 90 minutes photographing the goings-on. As accredited media, I’m permitted to get right into the thick of things, rubbing shoulders with the drivers. I did like this guy’s Fernando poster (below) and hoped to get Fernando in the foreground with the sign behind but that didn’t happen. These two delightful Austrian women featured in so many of my shots today and with good reason, they were enthusiastic, great ambassadors for the event and their country and undeniably pleasing on the eye. They were positioned on the road along with a lederhose-wearing dude to show drivers/personalities where to stop when they rolled up in their vehicles. I cajoled many of those arriving, to pose with the girls. Even Liberty Media head honcho Chase Carey got in on the act.The biggest welcome was for Sebastian Vettel who again rolled up on his bike. He then headed into the throng of adorers and signed autographs and posed for selfies. On the selfie note, yesterday I observed a punter stop Lewis Hamilton as he was about to enter the Mercedes garage and ask for a selfie. But as the guy went to put his arm around Lewis, the Mercedes champ pulled away quickly leaving the guy in no doubt that “arm around the driver” is not on. I’m on Lewis’ side, it’s an insidious thing.
Speaking of Lewis, he was one of the last to arrive, rolling up on his motorbike. He jumped off and signed autographs for those on the outside of the area but chose not to tread the green carpet like all of the others. He also didn’t bother taking his helmet off, obviously not expecting to stay long. After fulfilling his obligation he got back on his bike and proceeded to light up the rear tyre in front of the punters who lapped it up. At some point during the 90 minutes I was photographing the meet’n’greet, I decided to go up on a nearby hill to get an elevated view for this shot.It was steep and while getting up was fine, heading down was fraught with danger. There were a dozen or so photographers shooting down through the angled window of the Media Centre (the boofy sliver headed rooster with his tongue out is Mark Sutton; I provide Mark’s side of the Autosport business with images) and if I had fallen, and there was always a chance of that, they would have had a great action shot. In the end, there is just this image of me inching down, keeping my centre of gravity low. For the first practice session at 11am, I went to turn 3 at the top of the circuit which affords a fine view of the track and valley. I then moved left along to turn 4 and mixed up the shots. The beauty of this track is there are hardly any high wire fences and at the top of the track you often have positions all to yourself. The pic below, which is certainly full of colour, was featured by F1.com as their main pic for one of their stories.After that it was back to the Media Centre for 55 minutes of editing and 10 minutes of eating before taking the shuttle bus to turn 5 for qualifying.
Qualifying was, like practice, uneventful except for the Ferraris and Renaults which were sparking occasionally. I focused on the Ferrari in the final session but I had too much lens and cropped the front of the car off so no result there. The Renault shot at 1/80th of a second was OK though. The other shot that I went for was this one which would have been slightly better if I was 10cm lower so the tarmac wasn’t visible. There were some flowers on the slope so I utlised them. Max Verstappen certainly has a huge following with much of this grandstand filled with his orange-shirt wearing supporters.Tomorrow’s race promises to be exciting with Lewis Hamilton starting from 8th position despite qualifying 3rd today (he was subjected to a 5-spot penalty for changing a gear box). There will be a big crowd in attendance and with rain forecast, it might be my first opportunity to use the wet weather gear I bought and have not yet taken out of it’s packaging.
You are very close to the end of the blog so allow me to say thanks for reading it and I encourage you to share it with your friends. Tschuss von Osterreich!