Ten races in and today was the first day I’ve had to deal with rain, not a heavy downpour, but enough to bring out the wet weather gear for the photographers and wet weather tyres for the cars. At one point while shooting the morning session, I realised I needed gloves, it was that cold, but this is the middle of an English summer so hardly surprising.
The cars were on track for the final practice and qualifying sessions today but as is the norm, it was out to the paddock to snap drivers arriving first thing. I decided to go outside the paddock and shoot the arrivers as they traversed the car park. There were no other photographers and the background was less messy, especially if I shot from a low position shooting up. This left the typical UK grey sky as my neutral background. I’d just shot Marcus Ericsson (above) and was checking my pics when Sebastian Vettel walked straight past me which meant I had to take off in a hurry to catch him as he negotiated the small crowd of autograph hunters at the paddock entrance. Almost all of the drivers stop and sign/pose for the fans but not Kimi Raikonnen this morning, he was totally focused on getting through the waiting punters without stopping, achieving his goal in record time. Lewis was happy to sign plenty of stuff for the fans as he entered. While shooting the arriving drivers, I spotted the policeman (below) who I photographed in the pits yesterday. His pic ended up on the F1.com site so I had a quick chat with him to see if he knew about it and he mentioned a number of people had contacted him after seeing the pic in question. Most of the police working here are in heavy duty clothing but I think these 3 policemen are more for PR and show.Getting around the Silverstone track is a challenge. There are a number of shuttle vans that take us to and from the media centre but a lot of the time, the cars share the same roads as the crowd use and we often end up going the same speed as the pedestrians but at least we’re out of the elements. I took the van out to the final corner for the 1 hour final practice session in the morning. It was a good spot and for most of the hour I shot from the wall below. As you can see, there is nothing to protect you should a car or wheel clear that 1.2m high barrier. Once again, the challenge is finding a range of different photos. For the last 10 minutes of the session I went to the top of the grandstand, where the wind cut right through me. This was where I realised I needed gloves but I soldiered on and shot wide using a slow shutter speed. Then it was a lengthy wait for the shuttle van, 40 minutes of photo editing in the media centre, 4 minutes to swallow a sandwich and a 20 minute trip back to Maggots and Becketts. These are two famous corners here at Silverstone, fast and flowing, and one of the best places to see the cars spark as they head through at high speed and it didn’t disappoint. I heard one past driver say he would often aim for the spots where the heaviest sparking occurred so the following driver would cop a visor full of sparks.Not all cars spark, today the Red Bulls and McLarens were the most prolific but Renault, Williams and Ferrari also sparked up. One thing I noticed while editing the pics was the white mark on the photo below. This is disturbed air and it’s the first time I’ve seen it on one of my pics.I always laugh when a marshal has to pick up debris from the track. No cars were on circuit at the time this gentleman made the 30m dash to retrieve the debris and as soon as he was spotted by the crowd, they erupted in applause. This seems to be a worldwide phenomenon as I’ve witnessed it a couple of times at different races this year. After the session I arrived back at the paddock at the same time racing great Jackie Stewart was arriving in green tartan. He was with a group of people who’d paid well over a hundred thousand Euro for a special Silverstone event package. I know this as I was at the auction, which was held in Monaco during the grand prix, and at the time I couldn’t believe the price these people had stumped up. Jackie was wearing a green Heineken branded jacket and green tartan pants. I couldn’t help but think of the Alan Partridge scene where he wears a Castrol branded jacket to a funeral.
And last night when I walked back through the camp area near my hotel, I saw this youngster. I took his pic and mentioned there was a fair chance it would get a run on F1.com and sure enough it popped up today in the Saturday image gallery. Tomorrow Lewis Hamilton will be a red hot favourite to win his home grand prix after qualifying on pole position while Daniel Ricciardo will start a rank outsider from the back row after a disastrous qualifying session and a 5-place grid penalty. Now, it’s off to a BBQ at Thommo’s place which will be attended by an array of the world’s best F1 photographers, a great place to pick up some hand tips for tomorrow’s promised wet race.