The traffic getting into the track was heavy today so arriving later than I normally would, I headed straight to the area where the drivers arrive (instead of going to the media centre) and shot with the camera and lens I took back to the hotel last night. All but one of the drivers stopped to sign autographs or pose for pics as they entered.Three passionate F1 fans, dressed as pink panthers (apparently), got plenty of attention with Jolyon Palmer and Romain Grosjean among a number of drivers to pose with them. They were also on the TV broadcast numerous times. The one driver who didn’t stop was Kimi Raikkonen. Kimi arrived in a Ferrari and walked with purpose past the few hundred assembled fans and went straight into the paddock.Two of the drivers walked in with their girlfriends, Valtteri Bottas first, and then Fernando Alonso. Isn’t his girlfriend sporting a super tan!
I missed Lewis Hamilton arriving as he went a back way but realising he had to go from the hospitality suite to the garage, I waited outside the suite and could see him moving from the upstairs area, down the stairs and towards the exit. This advance warning allowed me enough time to set up for the shot of him jogging to the garage holding his sizable jewellery. I was the only one to get this shot which is unusual with Lewis. For the first 90 minute session I walked down to the first chicane and shot from 4 positions there.
These shots were taken with me sitting on the grass to get a low perspective. Shooting at 1/50th of a second blurs the background.Of course, the shot abover will look better on raceday or during qualifying when the stands will be full.
Shooting from the raised photography stand at the first corner (below)allows some depth in this shot and a couple of times I snared 3 cars in the shot. This is not the norm during practice as the cars tend to space themselves out. A couple of cars overshot the corner and took the run-off road which has polystyrene blocks strategically positioned to ensure the cars snake through them at a slow speed so they don’t gain an advantage.The Haas of Kevin Magnussen locked up while undertaking Sebastian Vettel into the first corner which led him to have to go over the speed humps. I also shot from below the photographic stand for a different angle. I was pleased to see the shot above used as a headline pic for a story on Valtteri Bottas on F1.com.Half way through the session I went for a 10 minute walk over to Ascari which is a fast flowing chicane where the cars were sparking upon the exit. After the session I headed back to the media centre, passing a cute youngster on the way,and spent 84 minutes editing and uploading pics before walking downstairs to the pits where I sweated it out in the sun for 90+ minutes. First up, highly paid car drivers got into their vehicles, and then many photographers took shots of their eyes with a long lens (500m or more) as they waited to head out and practice. I find the hairiest thing in the pits is when the cars come in for a tyre change and then head straight back out. They take off at speed and pass less than a metre from us and with no fence for protection.On the way back to the media centre after the session I could see a couple of drivers holding TV press conferences below, so I scored a couple of nice shots with a different perspective. I particularly liked the reflection shot above as all the logos read backwards and you can see the Ferrari team members milling in the top right.
I did take a pic of a fellow photography colleague, Peter Fox who was quite critical of his “aging face”. I thought it was a fine representation of what the Brit looks like, so I did a little work on it and he is much happier now; claiming he’ll use it on all his social media pages. More after qualifying tomorrow. Ciao.