Welcome to Paul Ricard circuit, a 2 and a half hour drive from Nice in the south of France. This is a new track for most of the photographers as it hasn’t been used for an F1 race for decades. The run-off areas here are expansive and painted with blue and red stripes with the kerbs done in pink and white. It’s certainly colourful.
The track is situated in the hills, up a very windy and dangerous road. Frank Williams had his accident on this road in 1986 and it’s apparently a nightmare getting to and from the track on the weekend. I’m staying in a delightful town on the Cote D’Azur, Sanary sur Mer. The harbour is chock full of brightly painted boats and is a 35 minute drive; normally. The weather was glorious today and the morning started for me with shots of drivers arriving. Lewis came by motorbike.I went out to the carpark to shoot him (photographically) and was hoping for a shot of him without the helmet but he saw me and hightailed it around the back of a van to swap the helmet for a cap ruining that chance.Out in the paddock, traditional French pastries were on offer along with freshly squeezed orange juice. These sort of offerings are muchly appreciated by the media although i could well do with something less fatty. While waiting for drivers to arrive, this fellow was having a cracking time flying above the track. The thing he’s strapped to sounds like a jet engine and is mighty loud and impressive.There is an airstrip directly behind the main straight where the rich and famous F1 fans can fly into and out of, although I’m not sure if these acrobatic aircraft took off from there but they certainly looked good as they rehearsed for Sunday’s show.In the paddock I positioned myself such that I could get the France sign in the background when drivers arrived. Here are two Ricciardos arriving with smiles on their faces. I shared the flight from Perth to Nice with Joe (also from Perth) and we had a most enjoyable time meeting folk from around the world at the bar at the back of the top deck on the Emirates A380.Over in the pits, these very large art pieces were commanding attention.There were plenty of drivers walking the track in warm conditions. Below Seb gave the students on this coach which was touring the track, a wave after they made quite a noise.A brass band rehearsed the French national anthem on the grid and I thought this shot was an interesting one.And then it was time for today’s press conference which featured these 3 French drivers and a Spaniard. Around 5pm the drivers magically appeared in the pit lane in front of their garage to appease their fans. Kimi was in a good mood obliging autograph/selfie hunters. Daniel and Max emerged from the garage shooting a video. And Lance Stroll (along with all of the team) was wearing a newly designed shirt. It’s only being worn at this race due to the French government’s ban on alcohol advertising (they are sponsored by Martini). Lewis Hamilton was very chirpy as he appeared from the garage to be with his fans and they lapped up the experience. That was day one of the French Grand Prix. Click around the site to find all of today’s images and if you’re ready to have one printed and hung on your home or office wall, you can order it online and have it in no time. Au revoir for now.