I like Montreal! It’s a charming city with a lovely grand prix track, a track that Lewis Hamilton drove around 70 times in a race today in a time faster than anyone else and he did it in front of a very large crowd of motorsport enthusiasts.Raceday was windy, really windy, and no fun for hayfever sufferers. It was so windy that it felt like the media centre (a tented structure erected over the rowing lake) might actually take off, which it thankfully didn’t. I took one of the most glorious shots of racing great Niki Lauda in the morning while he was in his hospitality suite. I was so lucky he looked over at me and held that look for a few seconds. Raceday sees a later start for photographers as there is really only the drivers’ parade and race to cover, although at this event there was a group drivers’ photo to celebrate a local milestone, 50 years of Canadian grands prix. At 12.30pm, 90 minutes prior to the scheduled start time for the GP, the grid girls took up their position on the track to welcome the drivers. Instead of herding the drivers on to the back of a truck as has been the norm for most of the grands prix, the Canadians arranged for open top vehicles to drive them Photographing them as they departed was a right bunfight with cameramen and photographers everywhere, it made it tricky finding a clean shot. This was one of the pre-parade shots that was relatively free of distractions and uses the Canadian flag in the foreground because, of course, Lance Stroll is Canadian.The shots of them returning were much easier to shoot as most of the photographers had disappeared leaving an uncluttered background.
But this is the shot I really liked and I have no idea why both returned in the one car, they certainly didn’t leave in one. Perhaps Max’s broke down. And there’s Dutch Peter in the background snapping the reverse shot.Once the drivers are strapped into their cars a few minutes before race start, there is a dash to the first corner by the photographers who were on the grid. For the start I was on top of one of the 3 towers at the first corner. I had placed yellow sticker on the handrail the afternoon prior thereby reserving the spot for me come start time, a system that works well. The camera you see mounted on the rail was set to cover a wide shot. As the race started I set that camera to fire indefinitely at 14 frames a second using a remote unit and then hand shot with the 100-400mm lens for a tighter shot. Once the field passed, I turned off the remote and reviewed the 100-odd shots and uploaded the 2 best wide shots so my clients could access them instantly. I did the same from the hand held camera and then waited for the field to come around again in 72 seconds. I spent 8 or so laps on the tower hoping to capture some sort of incident but the only thing I caught was a Haas overshooting the 2nd corner and running through the run off area.Otherwise it was just trying to include the crowd in the pics to make it more than just a picture of an F1 car on tarmac.As I was just about to cross the overpass back to the outside of the track, I came across Max Verstappen’s car parked where it shouldn’t be. I then realised he’d broken down around the corner and the marshals had rolled it back down the track and into the area below the 3 camera towers. The rest of the race was spent on the outside of turns 1, 2 and 3. For the shot below I stood in some dense scrub in a most uncomfortable position and shot through the wire fence. By pressing the large lens right up against the fence, the wire becomes invisible as if by magic. I shot them coming towards me, going away, tight and loose and hoping for multiple cars as these shots are more interesting than just single car shots Ten laps from the end of the race, I lugged all my kit back to the Media Centre, dropped most of it off and lined up for the parc ferme shot with a 24-70mm and 100-400mm lens. There was, as there always is, a dash for the photo tower but I chose to stay on the ground and shoot the top 3 cars driving towards me through the pits and then turning to my right and parking up. Once all cars have parked, the fence is then positioned behind the cars and the photographers all rush for the best position to shoot the drivers getting out. I focused on Lewis, as the public wants to see the winner, which meant I missed the other two getting out.After he hugged his team mate Valtteri Bottas, he went to celebrate with his team and as you can see, I was pretty darn close.I shot the podium and champagne spraying from below as the photographers’ tower was full and snared a shot of Lewis with his hat off. I don’t have many of them. Patrick Stewart’s interview with Daniel Ricciardo was the highlight of the podium though. Following Daniel’s “shoey”, Patrick suggested he might like to have a drink so Daniel took off his other shoe (he’d thrown the first one into the crowd), poured Patrick some champagne and watched on as the seasoned actor skulled it.After this, the drivers headed across to the Media Centre for the post-race press conference where they have to run the gauntlet of media and punters all keen to get their shot. Since starting on this F1 journey earlier this year I’ve secured a number of clients who use my images, one of which is Suttons and one of their clients is F1.com. Every day I like to see which (if any) images of mine they’ve chosen to use and over the course of this event they featured 72. The headline pic I used for my raceday blog, was selected as F1.com’s banner pic on their main story, a welcome bonus at the end of the day.With the Canadian GP come and gone, this week sees me photographing in New York with a few different models and then I fly to Baku for the Azerbaijan GP from 22-25 June. Oh and if you’d like to buy a print of any pic, you can order it here.