I wasted the first 90 minutes of today getting a replacement media pass having lost mine somewhere. Well, it turns out it accidentally ended up going to the laundry with the shirt I wore yesterday, so a new one was provided by the FIA people thankfully.
The first free practice session was at 1pm and it required a walk of over a kilometre to a building where I was to shoot from the roof. It was outside the track and overlooked the climb up the hill alongside the beautiful and ancient castle that is such a feature of the Baku track. There were three of us shooting from the roof, clambering around the air con ducts.I shot some trickier stuff involving slower shutter speeds and placing cars in the treesThings happen very quickly, with a car passing every 6 seconds on average if they’re all on the track. And then, I spotted this fine looking woman on a balcony waving a flag. Now, I can tell you that photographers often set up this sort of thing but this was a plain fluke so I spent 8 minutes trying to get the flag and a car in shot. The trick was the flag, making sure it was flying so it could be recognised. I shot to me left after I’d done enough of the shot up the hill. And then I saw a reflection shot that incorporated the elegant street lamps. Forty minutes into the session I packed up my gear and went trackside to shoot the iconic shot of the cars in front of the rustic castle. I moved to the corner that the cars above were negotiating and shot through a large photographers’ window. Here the cars are less than a metre away and the thing I remember most is the strength of the wind that comes through the holes at the bottom of the concrete barriers. 20 minutes prior to the end of the session and while still shooting from this hole, I heard a car coming up the hill to my left, 2 large bangs and then no engine noise. It turns out Sergio Perez had crashed into the outside barrier about 40 metres away. I was 3rd on the scene and while he was perfectly fine, he was not yet out of the car. After extracting himself, he surveyed the damage and then watched the marshals clear the car using a crane. Unable to get back to the paddock until after the session finished, he watched the rest of practice from the marshals’ area where he had exited the track. I had a chat with him and he said the car clipped the kerb which unsettled it and before he knew it, he was stationary. He asked who was leading the session time-wise and I mentioned he was 4th quickest. I’ve spoken with him a few times now and he impresses me as decent individual and a bit of a character, even smiling for one shot for me After the session, instead of hiking 20 minutes back to the Media Centre and then having to hike back to nearly the same spot (another 20 minutes), I decided to bring my laptop and my mobile internet dongle out with me and head to the air conditioned Pizza Hut just outside the circuit to edit and post my pics. The later practice session saw me back in the same area as the morning session but shooting from the outside of the track for the first 30 minutes. Then we had the opportunity to go up on top of the castle wall. Forget about Occ Health and Safety, this was a ridiculously dangerous ascent. At one stage we had to cross a 2 metre gap some 7 metres high, using this plank of wood – scary stuff. I got one or two reasonable pics but the reward was not commensurate with the risk so I shall not be doing that again. After the session I joined a host of other photographers on the shuttle bus trip back to the Media Centre, edited my pics, wrote this so you could read it and pressed PUBLISH. And there endethed the day.