The region of Spa is quite impressive with magnificent forests surrounding the track and making a great backdrop to F1 photographs. The shot above was taken during qualifying in the afternoon but my day started with an hour or so of driver arrival shots. I presume Sebastian Vettel rode his motorbike to the track as he walked in with his helmet. Sergio Perez looked purposeful.Lance Stroll tipped his hat at the photographers, what a gentleman.I had a quick chat with Renault’s Jolyon Palmer on Thursday and gave him a copy of my book, Africa on Safari (he’s just climbed Tanzania’s Mount Killimanjaro) and was rewarded with a smile and a look straight down the lens when he arrived resulting in a shot that F1.com would use to accompany a story about Jolyon being “happy despite Q3 gearbox penalty”. The only Australian F1 driver, Daniel Ricciardo, was also smiley; to be frank, he’s always smiley – and given the majority of you blog readers are Australians, here are 3 pics of the happiest man in F1. More smiling was to come in the press conference following qualifying, with the top 3 placegetters turning it on.
Free practice session 3 kicked off at 11am and I chose to shoot it from the inside of turn 1, Source. Here are 2 different views of the turn in question. It’s a hairpin where the cars get within a couple of metres of our lenses and the TV camera on the swinging arm flies just above our heads. It’s a top spot to shoot from, although once you elect to shoot from there, you can’t get out of the area until the session has expired. All of the above shots were taken with an 11-24mm wide angle lens using a variety of shutter speeds.
Looking in the opposite direction provided a long shot of the cars coming up pit lane with the sun illuminating the sloping car noses and resulting in the pitcrew members and marshals silhouetted. I like this shot a lot. Qualifying saw me on the outside of turn 1 where there is a house located smack bang next to the track and can be worked into a shot of the cars exiting the first turn. But I only stayed there for the first section of qualifying (18 minutes), after which I walked back to the pits to prepare for the 3 fastest qualifiers arriving back at parc ferme. Today it was Lewis Hamilton’s turn to be the quickest and earn the right to start on pole position for tomorrow’s Belgian Formula 1 Grand Prix.
I have done all of the parc fermes on racedays but this was the first time I was on hand to photograph the top 3 qualifiers. It is a lot more relaxed than the post race celebration with the cars stopping on the track,and most of the photographers (except Steven Tee from LAT in the black shirt, who scored the prime spot) having to battle for a spot over the pit fence. After the drivers did their interviews on the track, they walked down pit lane which allowed me to get close and use a wide angle lens while walking backwards at speed. They then posed for a pic in front of the FIA backdrop did the obligatory press conferenceand went downstairs to face the TV media in the interview pen.This is my first year as an F1 photographer and everything is new. Thankfully I’ve been guided by a number of F1 veterans whose tips and suggestions have been invaluable.
I did come across a couple of other fellow Australians working in F1 in Nikki and Tom seen below in their Red Bull attire. They handle the social media stuff for Red Bull Racing and were setting up for an interview with Daniel and Max on Thursday evening at the top of Eau Rouge. See the video here – https://www.facebook.com/redbullracing/videos/1490717730974711/On Friday I posted some pics taken through the armco fence at Les Combes (turn 6). It’s quite uncomfortable shooting those types of pics as you have to get right down onto the ground. Young Russian photographer Evgeniy Safronov spotted me looking uncomfortable while shooting those shots and sent me these pics. As you can see, the gap in the fence is only about 50mm but it’s enough.Let there be no doubt that there is plenty of walking involved with photographing any GP but here at Spa, we’re in the hills so there are plenty of ups and downs. The media centre seen below, is located at the top of the pit building and to get to the hospitality area of the paddock, several sets of stairs must be negotiated, and many times a day.Anyway, you are now free to go about your normal lives now as I have to go and photograph the grid girls doing their rehearsals. And remember, one or more of these F1 pics would look smashing on your office or home wall. Order your favourites here – https://www.kymillman.com/product/fine-art-prints/