I’m in Great Britain for the British Grand Prix at Silverstone and I’ll be frank with you, I’m delighted to be here. Of course, the prospect of a new track always appeals but with this event, I get to speak the local language and that is always a plus. I’ve heard much about the event, in particular, how hard it is to shoot due to the vast run off areas; long lenses will be the order of the day.
I left London this morning at 7am and was at the track just after 9am. The media centre here is directly above the pits on the 2nd floor of a 5-year old building that looks pretty swish. There is a very large room for TV and press and a smaller room for photographers. I claimed 3 desks so I can spread my mess; my three desks are on the right with the bright computer screen.After 9 events where I have been fed and hydrated, and coming on the back of Austria where I was well and truly spoiled, that perk came to an end today. Here, everyone pays for everything, except coffee and tea. After a quick sandwich mid morning, it was time to walk the track. I did it in reverse while the drivers walk it in the direction they drive it. They normally have a number of their team in tow, however, early on I found two drivers from different teams walking it together with their entourages and all nicely spaced out for this pic. Carlos Sainz was looking cool with his hat on backwards. I wish more would do this as it leaves their faces without harsh shadows.Sebastian Vettel was the odd man out here with his jeans as he walked the track, stopping for a brief moment to test the asphalt.Then I came across Spanish TV presenter Neomi De Miguel in a vintage Bugatti. She and her co-presenter were about to drive off so I asked them to give me 15 seconds to take a shot and was surprised when I looked at the shot on my laptop, as I discovered they had hidden a sound guy in the rear seat. While en route back to the media centre (which involves taking a shuttle bus, but not like any other shuttle bus I’ve taken this year),I found myself in a car park where the team lorries used to carry the huge quantity of gear from event to event, were parked up in a perfect line, making for a colourful shot.Before the afternoon press conference I went for a walk down a quiet pit lane and found Lewis Hamilton’s race seat sitting upside down at the front of the garage. Thursday is a great time to wander the pits as there are very few others doing it.While the first press conference was on, I headed to the outside TV interview area where the 4 drivers scheduled to do the second press conference (Ricciardo, Hamilton, Kvyatt and Wehrlein) were talking to the individual networks. As a photographer I can’t get as close as the TV crews. We are confined to an area behind TV and have to search a little harder for a shot.I was fond of the shot below. I like the contrast between the dark colours of the TV crews and the pristine white hat of Lewis Hamilton, the star of F1.It was evident that the drivers would take a route to the press conference room that involved walking past the dark wall below and through a shaft of sunlight that was attractive photographically. I set myself up in a position to take advantage of that light and waited for Daniel Ricciardo to walk past. He did as expected and was happy to smile for me as he headed up to the second press conference. He is a character, and a great ambassador for my home country Australia. He also went to the same school as my kids, Newman College in Perth, WA. For the first time this year, the press conference was held in a small theatre with raked seating. Here we were entertained by 4 drivers for the first time (normally there are 3).The main focus of the press conference was Lewis Hamilton not attending the F1 Live in London event last night in Trafalgar Square He copped a number of questions from journos who were keen to grill him over it. But there was plenty of mirth too, with Daniel quizzed about the ‘shoey” ritual he’s become renowned for. He was quite candid saying he hadn’t intended to do it in Baku but crowd pressure convinced him otherwise and then Martin Brundle was adamant he and Dan do it last Sunday in Austria as Marting wanted the shoe for charity. Lewis was then asked if he was ever likely to join Daniel in a shoey. The answer was a resounding “no” and the pair and the assembled media pack enjoyed a good laugh! Each driver arrives at the press conference with a minder, in today’s case, all females and they sat together in the conference room watching their charges perform on stage. Afterwards they gather up their driver and escort them through the paddock but to the safety of their transporter or hospitality suite. Another wander through the pits saw me surprise Valtteri Bottas as he was heading up to the second level of the Mercedes team transporter enjoying a banana. I nabbed this nice shot of Seb with a smile the size of Daniel’s,and then stumbled across Seb and ex-team mate Mark Webber finishing off an interview and cordially shaking hands on the top level of the Ferrari hospitality suite. Often on Thursday, there’s a pit walk for the 3-day ticket holders as was the case today and it was popular with hundreds hoping for a selfie with the likes of TV commentator Martin Brundle (below),or Lewis Hamilton (who I thought might have been making an extra concerted effort to schmooze the fans given the grilling he underwent in the press conference). I’m staying right next to the track at Whittlebury Hall which has a typically old world English bar where I’m putting the final touches to this blog.
Tomorrow I’ll head back to the track early and for the first practice session head to Luffield, a 180 degree corner where I can incorporate this ferris wheel in the shot, but obviously not with the wire fence in the way. and then head to the pits for the second session.
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