Today belonged to Valtteri Bottas after he tipped Lewis Hamilton out of pole position for tomorrow’s Bahrain Grand Prix.
After a savagely hot day yesterday, today was just exceedingly hot especially around lunchtime when I was photographing drivers and team bosses coming into the paddock.Of all the drivers, Lewis Hamilton is the hardest to photograph as he constantly has his head down when walking, (often looking at his phone) and a cap pulled down low, as he walks the paddock. I’ve deduced the best way to snap him is to wait until someone ambushes him for a selfie and then position myself in front of him and low down so that the moment he sets off, you have a chance of a reasonable shot of him.Last weekend in Shanghai I had a quick chat with Max Verstappen and showed him the pic I took of him in Melbourne, the one with the sparks flying. I was delighted to hear from his assistant early this week that Max wanted a couple of prints of the shot. I was happy to oblige and had them printed in Bahrain. I presented them to him today and he was good enough to sign a copy for me and pen a quick line about the incident.
This weekend I’m helping out British-based Sutton Images with some of my better pictures. They were a photographer short and through Manuel Goria, a Perth-based motoring photographer, I was introduced to the colourful Mark Sutton who was happy to have me shoot for them. In fact, last weekend, I provided Mark with some images from after the race which ended up making it onto the F1.com site.
At 3pm, free practice 3 kicked off and I was in position on one of the straights about 100m from a tight left hander. I’d confirmed with the marshals on my side of the track that it was OK to shoot from there and got the thumbs up.
The thing is, there is only an Armco fence between me and a car that might spear off into that railing. Thankfully that didn’t happen today but 20 minutes in to the session, two of us (photographers) were scolded by a different marshal on the other side of the track so we moved as requested. I then moved to turns 1 and 2 and snapped away for the remainder of the session. Saturdays are all about qualifying though and that took place under lights at 6pm. I went to the outside of the track about 200m from the first corner. This is an area where cars sparked so I used a 500mm lens and selected an 80th/sec shutter speed and snapped away with a handful of good shots to show for my 30 minutes there.The photo above is actually taken with a 24-70mm lens and I used a high shutter speed, I was able to “stop” the vehicle at the moment when sparks where being generated under the car.
After the session finished, I packed up my two cameras and bag and dragged my arse across to the inside of turn 1 for the last 10 minutes where I tried panning using a slow shutter speed. I jagged a couple of sharp ones but can confirm, this is easily the toughest thing to master when it comes to this type of photography.
After qualifying I walked back to the media centre, grabbed a different lens and headed to the media interview area where the lights on the trees provided a nice backdrop.That was today, my 15th day as an F1 photographer. I’m meeting some fine photographers who have been most willing to share tips and ideas to make my photos better but it’s fair to say, there’s plenty of room for improvement.
Tomorrow will be an interesting day with Bottas on pole position for the first time. I’m hoping Daniel Ricciardo gets up from 4th on the grid to snatch a win but whatever happens, I’ll be getting as close a view of the action as anyone…. and lapping it up.