I’m writing this blog while seated at the wheel of my hire car attempting to get out of the track. It’s a journey of about a kilometer and it has so far taken me an hour. On top of that there is another 40 minutes to get back to Sanary sur Mer BUT it took others 4 hours. This is not the GP to drive a car too, no other GP has anything like these traffic problems and god knows what tomorrow is going to be like.
On top of the traffic there was rain today during FP3 which reduced the time the cars were on track to about 14 minutes. Things started ok for me at the end of one of the long straights where the cars were sparking.
But 9 minutes in, down came the rain and all of the cars headed back to the pits while the rest of us sought cover. Of course I have some great wet weather gear to protect me and my kit, however, it was in my suitcase in my hotel room; poor form on my part.As it was unlikely to stop I returned to the Media Centre, however, a couple of photographers simply got into one of the shuttle buses that run around the service road and just did laps until the rain stopped. They did more laps than the F1 cars. Five minutes before the end of the hour-long session, a few cars came out so I moved to the top of the Media Centre to take some overhead shots of cars in pit lane. And some shots of the cars kicking up spray down the straight.What I did notice was the very clear trail the cars left on the tarmac. Having not shot from above during rain it was something new to me.Having taken so few shots meant I could have a relaxed lunch, well two actually, one at Mercedes and a second at Red Bull. Thank you to both of these teams for hosting the media, their food is magnificent. At Mercedes I joined this fella at one of the tables. Do you recognise him?He is Finnish rally driver turned politician, Ari Vatanen. He won the WRC drivers’ title in 1981 and the Paris Dakar Rally four times. It was an interesting chat. After lunch it was time for qualifying and I shot the first two sessions from the inside of the track at the chicane where there are plenty of colourful lines on the run-off areas. And cars braking heavily as they approach the corner.Then it was a short, brisk walk to the paddock to queue for the top 3 shot on the straight. The fella in red and yellow helmet was the fastest and gets to lead the field off tomorow at 4.10pm local time. His name be Lewis Hamilton.Second was Valtteri Bottas with Seb Vettel (below with his cap on backwards) in 3rd. I don’t know why, but whenever the drivers stand in front of the logo wall after qualifying, they never move to the middle. Someone needs to place marks on the ground for them to line up with.Lewis Hamilton was chatty in the post qualifying press conference, Valtteri was patient and polite and Seb smiled a lot.But perhaps the real story today was Charles Leclerc’s impressive result finishing 8th in a Sauber. Looks like he’ll replace Kimi Raikkonen next year if you believe all of the reports. My final shot was at the TV interview pen when once again I find the German ace with a broad grin. Over and out, ok!