Round 8 of the F1 season climaxed yesterday with a very chirpy Lewis Hamilton winning his 3rd race of the year. The track looked a treat which was some sort of reward for the punters having to sit in traffic forever in order to get there. I’m not sure what the purpose of the large art pieces at various places around the track was, but they were certainly impressive. Max Verstappen and the other drivers were presented with a small version of this jeans statue as they arrived at the track.I snapped most of the drivers as they were about to enter the paddock. Romain Grosjean beat the traffic on his scooter.Nico Hulkenberg stepped out of this ride looking like he’d just blow dried his magnificent hair.Lewis Hamilton escaped the media throng by going through the Paddock Club gate which is not often done. Later in the afternoon I waited 20 minutes with a couple of other photographers for him to emerge from his motor home. As soon as he saw us at the bottom of the stairs, he promptly turned away and did so until he got to the bottom and headed off. I did get a nice side profile shot though. And here’s another example of the Lewis look-away to avoid the photographer in front of him.After a fine feed at Red Bull it was time for the drivers’ parade, (it happens 90 minutes prior to each race start) and for the first time in my short F1 career the drivers had a police escort. Once the truck was full, it headed off on a slow lap. However, a few seconds later, a tardy driver emerged from pit lane. Sebastian was hastily bundled into the safety car and whisked up the straight to join the other “pilotes” for the track tour.
On board, Charles Leclerc (left) and Kimi Raikkonen (right) were chatting, perhaps about Charles moving to Ferrari which was all the talk after his impressive qualifying display. Forty minutes before start time I walked into pit lane from the media centre and came across all of the cars lined up to practice their starts. This is a great opportunity to get within centimetres of them as they launch. In the shot below you can see Daniel Riccardo’s eyes through the visor due to the halo creating a shadow. I’ve not seen that before.Out on the grid there was plenty to shoot, from people working on their laptops,to Daniel’s helmet featuring an Australian reference (straya mate) at the bottom. There were no celebrities as far as I could tell, save for Prince Albert of Monaco.Some of the drivers stay on the track after their cars have been wheeled into position on the grid,while others head back to the pits to have a pre-race wee.For the start, I shot from the outside of turn 2 and although I was 200 metres from the Bottas/Vettel crash and shooting on a wider lens than I perhaps should have, you can see some damage in the shot below.Here you can see Bottas’ flat rear tyre just after the incident.There were 52 more laps of the Le Castellet circui and throughout those laps I shot for short stints at different spots. I realised you could see the planes on the adjacent airstrip by shooting from here.I like the cars going in different directions in this shot. And there were more shots incorporating the blue and red stripes.You can see more race pics by clicking on the daily galleries on the site. So with 6 laps to go I was en route back to parc ferme and arrived with a few minutes to spare before the gates were flung open and we sprinted for a spot to shoot the cars arriving back into pit lane. Lewis was happiest of the top 3 and celebrated accordingly.Then there was the wet t-shirt competition won by the man second from left,And the post race press conference.And that, my friends, ends my first French Grand Prix and if I never have to endure that traffic again I will be happy. Check back here on Thursday for day one of the Austrian GP.