Perfect blue skies were the order of the day here in Sao Paulo, Brazil and no F1 personnel got held up at gun point today, so I believe.
There was a big crowd in attendance today and some stunning women. Alina is a Russian national living in Sao Paulo and she was dressed in a bikini made from 170 model car tyres and was happy to pose outside gate 8 for me. In the paddock, this woman was quickly surrounded by local media. When I saw this, I jumped in too and asked questions later, of the local photographers. It turns out she is Anitta, a local pop star, who sang the national anthem prior to the race start. These two women also got plenty of attention from the photographers but they weren’t famous, just well presented and confident.The tallest grid girls of the season were here in Sao Paulo and they were happy to play up to the camera. In the Paddock were some past greats like Emerson Fittipaldi, Jacques Villeneuve and Rubens Barichello.Sightings of Lewis Hamilton in the Paddock on race day are rare but I did catch him popping his head out of the garage for just a few seconds mid morning. He started from pit lane today and only missed out on a podium finish by a couple of seconds.
The drivers’ parade was nothing special, a bit of bun fight really. Twenty drivers on the back of a truck, paraded around the track and about 80 photographers/cameramen vying for a shot as they boarded the truck.
I shot the opening laps from turn 4. Here there is no mesh above the armco and the cars and braking from 300km/hr to 100km/hr. It’s a hairy position to shoot from and if one happened to come off the track and headed straight for me, I’d have been on the grass in no time. Below is the field on the opening lap.A few laps later, Daniel Ricciardo overtook Pascal Wehrlein before the turn.Lewis Hamilton also overtook a Renault into turn 4. After 14 laps I moved to turn 5 as this pictures proves. And spent some time at turn 2. But my best work was done at parc ferme (a French term) where I managed to get a plum spot allowing me to shoot the cars head-on as they entered the area. There’s a mad rush to get a position on the fence once pit lane is open to the media and once I’d selected mine, the Ferrari mechanics arrived and in true Ferrari/Italian style started, pushing and shoving me; they wanted my spot. I would not be moved though and was front and centre when race winner Sebastian Vettel stood atop his car to celebrate his win. He then came straight to his crew who had taken up position either side of me, leaving me right amongst the fray.You can spot me in this shot taken by German photography supremo (so he tells me) Jerry Andre.If you have access to the broadcast of the race, you’ll see me clearly.
After the top 3 had exited parc ferme, Felipe Massa arrived and given it was his final home race (last year was supposed to be his last race but he got a call up from Williams to go again) he was very much the centre of the crowd’s attention.It was at this moment I realised the Ferrari crew had departed and Felipe’s family was now standing right next to me. It didn’t take a Rhodes scholar to deduce that he would be over here shortly; and he was, leaving me in pole position for some stunning wide angle, up close shots. Felipe then took his son up onto the podium to say goodbye to his fans which was quite touching. So that was my race day in Sao Paulo. Now it’s off to have churrascaria fogo de chao, a Brazilian favourite.
Oh, and thanks for taking the time to get to the end.
Sutan bar, that’s good night in Portuguese.