Well Monza was something quite amazing today. Most of the start/finish straight was filled with enthusiastic Italians, adorned mostly in Ferrari red, after the race and I got to witness it from the Paddock Club balcony where a ticket for raceday is more than 2,oooEuro. I was only up there for 30 minutes but it was pretty amazing and although Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton won, the crowd only wanted Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel, who ran 3rd.But getting back to the start of the day, thankfully yesterday’s rain was nowhere to be seen so it was out with the wide angle lens to cover the drivers arriving. Lewis put on a show again, burning some rubber in front of a throng of excited photographers and cameramen.Jolyon Palmer had a smile for me.Daniel Ricciardo was nicely backlit.and Jackie Stewart was looking resplendent in his familiar tartan. The grid girls were probably the most stunning of any event this season and were marched through the paddock on numerous occasions pleasing anyone with a camera; aah, the beauty of youth! The driver’s parade saw each driver get a vintage car and chauffeur except for Sebastian Vettel who opted to drive the car he was assigned. Lewis Hamilton was a big hit as usual with the media. I chose to shoot with the light meaning I had to stand behind the car but luckily the Brit turned around.Fernando Alonso’s car failed to move so he gave the crowd a wave and was about to head back to the pits when Jolyon Palmer suggested he hitch a ride with him on his beautiful chariot. Thankfully he too turned around to face me.
It is hard not to get caught up in the excitement of the whole thing especially when you think about the huge TV audience that F1 commands. I feel most privileged getting the photography accreditation and am taking every opportunity that pops up.
After the parade I headed off on a 500m walk to turn 1 arriving in time to witness this sight.With 10 minutes to go until the start of the race, I set up a camera on a mount to shoot wide (20mm) using a remote shutter switch,while I shot tighter on my other camera using a 100-400mm lens.I stayed at the first corner for about 28 laps moving around the area to vary my shots. With the shot above, I had the shutter open for an eighth of a second and panned right to left with the car. By panning at the same speed the car is moving, I could keep it sharp . The blur on the bottom half of the image is another car passing between my lens and Alonso’s and travelling left to right. At lap 25 of the 43 lap race I walked back to the media centre and swapped lenses before walking upstairs to the Paddock Club where I quickly downed some pasta and 2 drinks before staking my spot on the balcony rail for the podium presentation.
While waiting, I noticed Alexandre Molina, the man in charge of the podium, prepping the stage with freshly uncorked bottles of Carbon champagne and placing the dignitaries’ name cards on the stage. Shortly after Lewis Hamilton crossed the line, the cue was given to open the pit gate allowing the photographers to walk or run to parc ferme to take up their positions for the arrival of the first 3 placegetters.I I would normally be covering parc ferme but at this track, there is not enough time to get from parc ferme to the Paddock Club so I gave it a miss and focused on the shot from the Paddock Club.
The 3 drivers made their way on to the podium where they did all the standard podium stuff, and then Sebastian Vettell grabbed one of the TV cameras and played cameraman.Just prior to doing that though, the confetti and streamers exploded. I don’t think the streamers were meant to tangle up in the wires that run the length of the pit lane. If you look closely you’ll spot the camera that runs along those wires which had become entangled in the streamers. I can’t tell you if they managed to free the camera.
The Italians do love the flares and with the wind blowing left to right of the pic below, buggered up the shots for those photographers who’d taken up their position on the photographers’ platform on the opposite side of the track. The reason it’s there is because the podium is directly above the pit wall. This is the only track with a podium of this sort.
After all that shenanigans, I retreated to the press conference room to cover the chats with the three drivers. My final task for the day was to shoot the Mercedes team celebration in front of their garage. I got there 20 minutes early to get a front-on position and shot both tight and wide and then, the champagne came out and Lewis ran straight at me leaving me to cop a lens and shirtful of the liquid but I did get a shot while taking evasive action.Every time Lewis has won, this year, he’s headed over to the pit wall to give the fans a treat, so I went to the pit wall and waited in a spot I thought he’d come to. True to form, he jumped up on the wall 2 photographers and 1 security guard away from me and took a selfie before climbing down to immerse himself in the crowd’s love. I thought he was going to crowd surf but instead he just jumped up and down with them for a minute all the while clutching his cap. But perhaps the shot of the day was the very last one taken in the media car park with my iPhone of something I’ve never seen before.Tomorrow it’s back to Australia for 8 days before one of the shortest flights of the season for me (5 hours) to Singapore. Ciao.