I left my home in Perth at 10pm (AWST) on Monday evening and arrived at my Montreal hotel 33 hours later. It’s a fair hike; 2 Qantas flights and 1 Air Canada with stops in Melbourne and Los Angeles but worth it for the thrill of photographing F1. This is my passion at the moment and while it would have been infinitely less taxing on my body, lifestyle and wallet if I’d been based in Europe like almost all of the other photographers, I have chosen to travel from my home city of Perth.
I’m fortunate to have a team of some 65 people there and in Singapore looking after my business, Messages On Hold, a company I started some 29 years ago. Over 9 months (Feb – Nov) I will travel more than 450,000kms, touch down in 23 different countries and photograph all 20 events plus the pre-season testing.
Looking at the weather forecasts prior to leaving Australia I figured I was in for cool and wet conditions, however day 1 was sunny and hot. One of the great things about being part of the media contingent in Canada is the free transfers to the track from the city. It’s a 20 minute ride in a shuttle which delivers us right to the paddock entrance.
The media tent at this track is situated just outside the paddock swipe gates. and is a make-shift facility with about 100 workspaces. After selecting a locker, picking up my tabard and sorting out a desk, it was out to photograph the drivers’ autograph session.
First to arrive were the boys from Sauber. After they’d signed and gone, a plethora of other drivers arrived en masse, with Lewis Hamilton the last to arrive, much to the delight of the enthusiastic crowd. I did notice that Lewis has a new piece of jewellery, the praying hands, visible above. It has much sparkle about it.
Straight after the autograph session, it was into the press conference where Lewis, Fernando Alonso and Jolyen Palmer faced the media in the first session. Followed by a very serious looking bunch, Sergio Perez, Lance Stroll and Marcus Ericsson in the second.The paddock is quite tight here with only about 8 metres between the team hospitality suites and the garages. I stopped by Daniel Ricciardo’s press conference outside the Red Bull garage and was thankful I brought my 50mm, f1.2 lens as it allowed me to shoot some shots with a very shallow depth of field. The shot below was my favourite though, it sums Daniel up to a tee – happy to be a part of the show!I then walked some of the track and realised that a fair whack of it butts up against forest on both sides making it nearly impossible to walk alongside the track. The hairpin looks impressive and with the stands full should photograph magnificently on the weekend. I was amazed to see that they’d built a whole stand around a tree too.I found Sebastian Vettel doing his track walk later in the afternoon. Here he stopped to pour a little water on the white line on the outside of the track and then rubbed it with his shoe to test how slippery it was in the event of rain. On one of the corners I spotted this tiny camera. Initially I thought it was a sprinkler but on closer inspection I realised it was to capture the cars passing a metre or so away from it as they rounded the corner. If someone was monitoring that camera in the control room they would have seen my head and lens fill the shot. I do like the red and white kerbing that is such a feature of F1 racing and in the shot below, the paint on the grass grabbed my attention. As I was leaving around 6pm, I took some shots from the starting tower and was at the same height as these signage contractors on a scissor lift. I asked them if they’d take me up high enough to shoot the start line from straight above with my 50mm lens and they said yes. These guys do the signage for all of the grands prix so I will look out for them in the future as access to a scissor lift is pretty handy!
Anyway that was day 1 of the Canadian Grand Prix and having just finished this blog in the bar at the Hotel St Paul, I will now go and enjoy a drink courtesy of Jeff from Minnesota. Au revoir until tomorrow.