Sebastian Vettel won the chocolates at yesterday’s Bahrain Grand Prix but there was plenty going on to keep the fans enthused.
I’d had a relaxed day leading up to the 6.10pm race, wandering the pits and paddock in search of photos. The mood was relaxed and there were fewer people in the paddock than on qualifying day.
Bernie Ecclestone was in attendance with his wife and attracting plenty of attention. Mrs Ecclestone was sporting a fine looking Rolex.Romain Grosjean’s and Kevin Magnussen’s freshly dry cleaned race suits were delivered to the track by a team member.
.I found these magnificent looking falcons with their owners.In their respective garages a couple of hours prior to the race were Brendon Hartley and Daniel Ricciardo preparing for the race.. While I was photographing Dan and Max at the back of the garage, Vicky from Red Bull (Daniel’s minder for the race) invited me to ride with the group to the autograph session in the public area. Note Daniel’s unusual signing style. I joined the two drivers, their respective minders and Getty Images head snapper Mark Thompson for the drive over. (See Mark buggering up my shot below -what a muppet!).It was nice to get to spend a few minutes alone with the drivers and the conversation was lively. On the way back, Daniel took a golf cart while Max drove with us, egging on our local driver to pass the cart at speed.The Sauber and the Force India drivers were also in signing/selfie mode.Out in the pits, I caught up with the lovely Aseel whom I photographed yesterday, once again she was dressed impeccably in traditional arab haute couture.There was no scooter for Lewis Hamilton as he made his way towards the pits for the drivers’ parade which enabled me to get this nice portrait.There was a 30 minute window after the parade for us to edit then it was back into the pits to watch all of the cars head out on track. This is a hectic time and while it would be nice to be able to see what is going on in each garage you just don’t have time, so you pick and stick with a few. The cars are then delivered to the back of the grid where the drivers alight and the cars are pushed down to their respective starting positions. Interesting point here is the since the grid girls have disappeared there’s no one to hold up the signs indicating which drivers start where. The girls were replaced with youngsters and because you make a child work, they technically can’t hold a stick with a number and name on it.
Some drivers head back to their garages for a couple of minutes during this time, while others stay on track to prepare and take last minute instructions. Then it’s back on with their head gear and a climb back into their cockpits, after which all non-team personnel are ushered from the track leaving me with a 400m hike to the first turn tower in 6 minutes.There is great pressure to get a sharp shot of the first turn and using a 70-200mm lens I was up for the challenge. It was the second lap though that provided my best photos with multiple overtakes including the triple sparker shot at the top of the blog. of The rest of the race was spent moving from spot to spot trying different things, hoping for something special to happen in front of me. Something special but very painful did happen, but nowhere near me. Kimi Raikkonen took off from his pit stop before the back left hand wheel was secured and in the process, savagely broke the leg of his pit crew member. I heard about it on BBC 5’s broadcast which I monitor using headphones during the race and watching the vision after the race showed how sickening it was. Seb made mention of it when accepting his trophy for the win.
The last shots for me were from parc ferme and the podium but I was nowhere near Seb when he parked his car and had a TV cameraman blocking many of my shots. TV rules the roost in F1, of that there is no doubt. If you watched the telecast you might have noticed that the announcer stated, “Now it’s time for the celebration” instead of “champagne”. This is because Bahrain, like Abu Dhabi won’t promote alcohol so the Carbon champagne bottle is replaced with an unmarked bottle with something nowhere near as fizzy as champagne inside.As soon as the drivers left the podium I raced back to the media centre, stuffed all my gear into two bags and headed to the car park where I had a driver standing by to speed me to the Bahrain airport for my flight back to Perth. I made it with 12 minutes to spare and sat next to Olivier Jollin , the president of Bell Helmets. Bell supplies helmets to 12 of the drivers and I was surprised to learn they are all made in Bahrain.
I have two nights in Perth before heading up to Shanghai for a GP that is largely soulless with few spectators, grey skies and nowhere near the photo opportunities that Bahrain provided. Still, the media centre is mighty impressive (it’s 9 storeys above the ground) and there’s a canteen attached to it.
I hope you’ll share this blog with your friends and associates and if you’d like to purchase any of my images as photo paper or canvas prints, click here. For digital images for use commercially, please email me like others have and we’ll talk turkey.
And lastly, before you click onto something else, here are 4 different angles of Sebastian Vettel’s 2018 helmet courtesy of Russel Batchelor from XPB. It’s back to Perth for me for 2 nights then north to Shanghai for round 3 of the 2018 season.