The south of France was perfect today and so I headed to the Le Castellet circuit for day 1 of the four days of the French GP. The first driver in was Daniil Kvyat, carrying a guitar which I found out that he likes to play between sessions to relax.Sebastian Vettel rode his Suzuki 750 to the track. He’s staying in a motorhome not too far away. On the subject of 2 wheels, Sergio Perez took a shine to this nifty electric mini bike being promoted by a local company.He put the touch on this woman, who was promoting the bikes, for a free one. I’m not sure if he managed to convince her. In fact, she had no idea who he was. Some of the drivers had their important women with them today. Charles Leclerc’s girlfriend Giada Gianni was floating around the Ferrari motorhome.Romain Grosjean’s wife Marion was in the paddock,as were Alex Albon’s mother Minki and sister Chloe.
Drivers crossed paths throughout the day, some stopping for a chat. Below Nico Hulkenberg compares fist sizes with Daniil Kvyat.While Daniel Ricciardo chased down Carlos Sainz to press the flesh.It’s always nice when we can shoot the drivers in the street clothes. Here’s Charles Leclerc in a plain white t-shirt and no cap.Later he threw on his team shirt for his track walk where I’m not exactly sure what was going on here. I found Haas driver Kevin Magnussen killing time kicking (and heading) a soft soccer ball over a make-shift net with his trainer Thomas Jorgenson.On the topic of trainers I got a super smile from Kimi’s right hand man Mark Arnell as he arrived.It wasn’t until very late in the day that I found the oldest driver on the grid, Kimi Raikkonen. He was returning from an autograph session. Not one of his favourite commitments.The huge gorilla is back again.This piece of art is the work of Richard Orrlinski who is right out there when it comes to this type of thing. He has a retail outlet selling his art in St Tropez during summer which moves to one of the French ski resorts during winter.
During the regular Thursday press conference Nico Hulkenberg was obviously bored, pulling faces for a couple of photographers while other drivers fielded questions.He has new race boots for this weekend. Daniel Ricciardo initially thought he was going to be the recipient but it turned out to be Nico’s turn.Why the special design? Well, it was almost 40 years ago to the day that Renault won its first grand prix in Dijon so they decided to make some noise about it with the above livery paying homage to Alain Prost’s boots from 1983. They are surprisingly light too; I reckon they weigh less than 150 grams each.
And finally, I missed getting a shot of Lewis Hamilton today. Well, everybody did as he was excused from media duties to attend a memorial service for Karl Lagerfeld in Paris. So here’s the closest thing to him, his physio Angela Cullen sporting some loud sunnies.Au revoir for now! Oh, and remember you can save 75% off the price of any of my digital images by heading to www.prostarpics.com and using the promo code PSP075 when you select PERSONAL USE.