Friday started out cloudy but dry but by FP2, it was bucketing down big time which results in markedly different pics from the dry and a great deal of discomfort.
The paddock here at Suzuka features a dozen or so hospitality suites on the left of the pic below. They house the ten teams and the FIA personnel. They are nowhere near as lavish or large as the motor home suites that the teams cart around Europe but today they provided sanctuary from the rain for many. The paddock is also quite wide compared to most, which often results in fewer people than normal in the backgrounds of shots like these. I’m always thankful when drivers look at the lens as did Valtteri Bottas above and Max Verstappen below.Lewis Hamilton decided to sneak out the back of the hospitality suite and sprint to the garage to avoid waiting cameras.Felipe Masse (below and with his posse) looked like he meant business.For the first practice session I went to the section of track between Degner 1 & 2 and 130R. I was warned to look out for spiders and very nearly walked right into this one’s web, luckily stopping a few centimetres short hence I was able to get this pic of it on its undisturbed web. Later in the session I wouldn’t be so lucky, walking into a similar web and doing quite a dance. The area I was in saw the cars pass in both directions either side of me and it offered much variety.The ferris wheel is the obvious landmark to incorporate in shots and in this area you can have the cars incorporated in a number of ways. There was a good deal of sparking when the cars were pushing hard but capturing the perfect shot was (as is always the case) a matter of taking many shots in the hope that one of the slow shutter speed shots is sharp. There is one section near the final chicane where we are able to photograph the cars without having to stand behind a fence. The shots below are taken from there with me kneeling so the track is not visible. After the session finished, a 10-minute walk saw me back in the media centre to edit for 2 hours and while in there the heavens opened up. It rained heavily for about 90 minutes which meant donning the wet weather gear; for me and my cameras. Luckily the track provides umbrellas so the walk out to turn 4 for FP2 wasn’t too uncomfortable.
The session was delayed for 30 minutes and there were plenty of people like this guy who were prepared to sit out in the rain in the hope of some action. The safety car came out for a run.But the verdict was “no way”. A while later after the rain had eased, it came out again. This time the session was given the “thumbs-up” and a few minutes later Kimi Raikkonen was the first man on the wet track followed by Nico Hulkenberg. They kicked up plenty of spray in the first few laps and it was evident that the red tail light lit up the spray behind the car and looked appealing. The only interesting facet of the session for me in my section of the track, was Lance Stroll going off at turn 1, about 400metres away and during reasonably heavy rain. He didn’t collide with anything but came quite close to the fence.In the end, the cars were only on track for 45 minutes so there wasn’t much to edit afterwards although this guy (below) caught my eye.
He’s a local photographer who spent the whole FP2 session sleeping at his desk. As such he certainly ended up a lot drier than I did. Note to self, get wet weather pants and Goretex shoes.
More tomorrow, sayonara.