And the winner is……. Lewis Hamilton, again. The Brit romped home for an easy win over Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen in an event that had little surprises.On a hot summer’s day in Budapest a big crowd turned up to watch 20 cars drive around the Hungaroring 70 times. I spent all of those 70 laps at the chicane hoping for something spectacular to photograph but the best I got was Max Verstappen heading back to the pits after his Red Bull conked out early on in the race. But the light was great and there were a number of shots to be had. Valtteri Bottas worked hard trying to hold off the two Ferraris but they got the better of him and eventually passed him late in the race. Staying out there for the whole race provided me with a shot I’ve not taken before as I’m normally in parc ferme. The day started though with driver arrivals and this morning, Kimi arrived carrying his son’s scooter. While his youngster walked behind him giving the photographers the “thumbs-up”.The drivers’ parade these days lack any sense of occasion now that the grid girls have gone for most races. It’s just a rabble of photographers and cameramen around a piece of red carpet. Here’s Daniel Ricciardo walking the red carpet.Having access to the grid prior to the race is a real privilege. It is a buzz and I often stop to savour the moment before getting on with the job. It’s the only real time I’m able to get close-up shots of the drivers with their visors up. And sometimes their helmets off.Up the front of the grid I found this popular model, Barbara Palvin. You may have seen here on magazine ads for high end products. So that was a precis of race day but let me take you back over the previous two days.
Qualifying (Saturday) was wet, although thankfully nothing like the downpour at Hockenheim. The thunder and lightning though was something I’ve not encountered in my 30-race F1 career. For the first session I was on the hill at the last turn in the middle of the crowd trying to get this shot. I was shooting with a long lens, 600mm, when a guy came up and demanded I take a photo of him and his girlfriend. I only had a few minutes to get my shot so I declined but he kept on at me. The thing is, he needs to be 16m from me before the lens will even focus and to get both of them in he’d need to be 25m+ but he wanted me to snap him where he was, standing right next to me. In the end he just went away thankfully.
The rain did come down which was an inconvenience but with the right protective gear (which I had on prior to the downpour) it offered a different range of shots. I haven’t had too many rainy shooting days so I embraced the conditions and was happy with what I got, these being a couple of the better shots.
After Lewis nailed his qualifying lap to score pole, I shot the top 3 from the armco on the outside of the track.This was where I first spotted the black armband (a mark of respect for Sergio Marchionne) on Kimi’s race suit. Unlike other sports, you can’t just go and wrap any piece of black material around the driver’s arm, it must be fire-proof/resistant and approved by the FIA. The suit supplier Puma only had a couple of days to produce the bands, get them from the factory to the track and sewn on to the suits. It was a rush but they succeeded.
After qualification the top 3 then pose in front of the FIA backdrop. I love Kimi’s reaction here. He’s just going through the motions, letting Lewis soak up the glory. In the morning session I headed to turn 2 and shot from the trees for the first half. I’ve had little practice shooting at a low shutter speeds through trees so it’s fair to say I welcomed the chance to take a myriad of shots.Harking back to Friday, the busiest day, I spent most of the two sessions around turns 4,5 and 6. This area offers many options like this shot with the waterpark near the track visible in the background. About 600m further along the track the water tower and housing in the adjacent estate is visible in the background. Below you can see how close we get to the action, with the cars heading straight towards us at speed and turning right (hopefully). Using a 600mm lens this is what the camera sees.Shooting from the opposite direction it looks like this.By moving a little further around the track you can shoot the cars with no fence visible, just forest.Here I shot through the armco for the darkened area top and bottom.Below is Lewis Hamilton taking a short cut.And here is the area from where we shoot the shots above.And a final pic of DHL’s corporate entertaining area in the paddock. It’s a little less lavish than the racing team’s motorhomes.
So that wraps up one of the best grands prix on the circuit. Thanks Budapest, you’ve turned on a great show.