Last night I had reason to go to the Ritz Carlton in the centre of Budapest and upon arrival noted a crowd of at least a hundred F1 fans, managed by 6 security guards, at the hotel entrance waiting for the Red Bull drivers.
I was seated in the lobby when there was sudden and frantic movement by a dozen or so fans, probably hotel guests, waiting inside the lobby. I turned to see Daniel walking briskly through the lobby with his father, en route to his room followed by punters clutching phones. The Ricciardos had avoided the crowd by slipping in through a side entrance. As Dan would attest, if he entered through the front, he’d have been there more than an hour appeasing the fans, so in many instances, it’s better to avoid disappointing some people by avoiding the swarm..
I did manage to capture a pic of the two Ricciardos coming into the paddock though this morning, both without hats and walking in gorgeous light. Dan’s mum Grace should love this pic of her boys. I can report that Daniel’s colourful socks (mentioned in Thursday’s blog) have been a fair talking point. He gets nothing more than some sample pairs and in return the company scores some significant media exposure.
Prior to that, and on my way into the track, I spotted a couple of local young women at the entrance to the circuit, the one below being a grid girl tomorrow. When I first started, I probably would have just snapped them where they were standing, but over the 11 grands prix I’ve done, I’ve come to realise there are a number of elements required to make a pic interesting. I decided to place these women in the vicinity of the huge driver portraits and had them face the sun for best lighting.
On heading back to the paddock I found Sebastian Vettel on his motorbike. He parked it near the fan zone so he could sign autographs and pose for selfies for 5 minutes and then got back on and headed off to his parking spot. I gather the bike travels with the team gear on the huge trucks allowing him to use it at certain races.Lewis also rode his bike in and went one step further by riding it onto the red carpet in true showman style. I wasn’t there for that, but I snapped him posing just outside the media centre where he pleased a number of punters. I was told last night that Paul Di Resta might be stepping in for one of the Williams drivers and sure enough, he got the nod after Massa complained of headaches in FP1. He drove in qualifying and will now be one of the 20 to start in tomorrow’s race. Here he is talking on the telephone.I took a goodly number of pics in this morning’s practice session working the back section of the circuit. I focused on 2 corners and thoroughly enjoyed it. We are again, very close to the track here and with no wire to make photography tricky. What was evident to me today was the strong smell that comes from a lock up. A Williams produced much white smoke right in front of me and the smell was strong.
It’s rare to see a driver’s hand out of the car but I caught Kimi Raikonnen peeling off his helmet visor strip during the morning session and as you can see his arm is well out of the vehicle. When he tosses it away he needs to be careful it doesn’t get stuck in the air intake above his head. Normally they tear off the strips in the pit lane. There was a huge crowd in attendance for the one hour qualifying session after lunch with most grandstands near-full. There are plenty of blokes with their shirts off, lots of flags, much beer swilling and singing and chanting for their favourite driver. I started up in the grand stand and then went down to ground level where I shot Valtteri Bottas running into the dirt at the exit of the final corner resulting in this marvellous plume of dust. Of course the better shot would have been from front-on with the dust behind the car; no doubt someone scored that pic. The shot below could have been a lot better if the weather had been cooler (the track temperature was over 40 degrees) as the heat haze, and the distance involved has made the cars and copter look quite soft. After qualifying I sprinted (well jogged awkwardly) 250m to photograph the top 3 qualifiers who were being interviewed on the grid. The suited gentleman behind Kimi and Sebastian is Alexander Molina. He co-ordinates the podium presentations, both on qualifying and race days. The gentleman to the left of Kimi is Matteo Bonciani, head of media. Look for both of them at the end of each race.
Tomorrow, Sebastian Vettel will start from pole position in front of Kimi Raikonnen and Valtteri Bottas. Lewis Hamilton, after securing pole at the British Grand Prix will start fromn from 4th and with a temp forecast in the mid 30s, it’ll be a tough slog for everyone.
Cheers from Budapest.