For the record, it started raining in Monza at 8am and pretty much rained non stop until 7pm. It was steady and it was cold and I know this because I was out in it for more than 4 hours.
When I arrived at the track, a little earlier than normal, I was one of only two photographers snapping the drivers as they arrived. A little later a couple more rocked up but the weather dissuaded most from the task so it was great having far fewer people than normal to jostle with for a shot. Marcus Ericsson (below) was keen to see what was in a goodie bag handed to him by a fan.
Jolyon Palmer cleverly used a people mover to shield him from the 150 or so fans waiting at the entrance and got in largely without being spotted and he gave me a wry smile as we both knew what was going on.Niether of the Ferrari drivers stopped to sign autographs, they moved past the throng with purpose but I snapped them inside the paddock gates.Mexican Sergio Perez went for the sponsor umbrella when he got into the paddock. While this Pirelli staff member sported the most fulsome beard of any arrivee.So once I’d had enough of that, I went up to the media centre and grabbed all of my camera kit and wet weather gear and headed to the 2nd chicane via the shuttle bus. I arrived 30 minutes early and then stood in the rain, in just a polo shirt and a weatherproof golf jacket for 75 minutes at 13 degrees as the session was delayed 45 minutes.
Thankfully I’d taken an umbrella from the hotel which I wedged into the fence to provide some protection from the persistent rain and it worked.I bought some very expensive camera rain covers at the start of the season and today was the first time I used them (below) and they worked a treat (there is a camera in there).I’d been waiting under the brolly for 30 minutes or so and then thought I’d better take some pics to tell the story of the weather. I took these and then some. Thankfully my waiting was not in vain because the cars did come out and ran for the last 13 minutes of the session, kicking up plenty of water. At the end of the session, four of us photographers walked out on to the track expecting the shuttle bus to collect us, but that was cancelled so we got to enjoy a 25 minute walk back to the media centre in the rain.
I had to laugh when I returned because there was an array of wet weather gear drying on the window railing of the media centre, it looked like a Hong Kong apartment building.Qualifying was set down for a 2pm start and I was in position right on 2pm at Ascari. The cars came out on wet weather tyres and kicked up quite a spray. I quite loved the way you can see the water coming off the tyres in the tight shots although at 150km/hr it’s no easy feat tracking the cars. I did think the camera helicopter was flying at a crazy low height at one stage but it didn’t crash and the vision was no doubt super. About 6 minutes into the session, Romain Grosjean crashed. So that put a stop to the session for 2 and half hours, 2 hours of which I stood out in the elements with the marshals and fellow photographers. The novelty of that wore off very quickly.I eventually walked back the media centre, spent half an hour editing and then it was announced that the session would get underway in 10 minutes. That resulted in me suiting up again and hiking through the mud and pools of water back to Ascari where I spent the rest of qualifying. In the end, Lewis Hamilton went around the track in the shortest time, followed by Max Verstappen and then Daniel Ricciardo. It’s a shame though that both of the Red Bull drivers will start at the back of the grid as they picked up penalties for changing engines and bits on their cars.
Having returned from Ascari I went straight to the press conference which was held in a very small conference room and when a tall journalist sits in the very front row (as below) it buggers up our shots, as photographers have to stand around the outside of the room and the drivers are not on a raised stage. This often means grabbing a chair and standing on it to get a shot devoid of tall journalists’ heads. Tomorrow should be quite an event with a huge crowd of rowdy Italians keen for a Ferrari victory, although that looks like a long shot as the two Ferraris will start on the third row of the grid.
The interesting thing was that young Canadian Lance Stroll will start on the front row and that will be both a first for him, and quite a thrill I imagine.
More tomorrow after the race. Bye bye, or ciao as they say here.