This is the last ever Malaysian Grand Prix, it’s also my 15th GP of the season. I’m staying in Putrajaya which should be a 30 minute drive to the track but with traffic it can be upwards of 80 as it was tonight on the way back.
On the subject of photographing F1 I was pleased to get a shot I missed yesterday, drivers + the Sepang sign, in the example below, Kimi Raikkonen. Shortly after Kimi arrived, Daniel Ricciardo followed. I suggested he should walk past it but it would have meant backtracking, but he did slow for me so I could get in front of him to shoot with some foliage behind. I found Mercedes boss Toto Wolff prior to entering the paddock; he looks like Sideshow Bob from the Simpsons. With light rain falling I walked the 500m to turn 2 where I waited with a bunch of photographers (all locals) for the session to start. The shot here is to incorporate the Malaysian flag and I tried a variety of angles and shutter speeds. The cars were kicking up a bit of spray which makes for nice pics so I positioned myself at the end of the start/finish straight where they hit over 300km/hr. Here I could stand right against the waist high armco barrier with no fence above it which is great for photography, not so good if there’s a massive shunt. I even got sparks in the rain with Max Verstappen.I spent the entire 90-minute session (less the 30min rain delay) around turns 1 and 2 which are quite slow corners. Thankfully the rain diminished as the session wore on and had stopped by the time it finished. I quite liked the pic below of my colleagues walking back up the hill to the Paddock all carrying their long lenses; they’re worth around AU$10k each. Back in the media centre, soaking wet from the waist down from the rain and waist up from perspiration, I had 90 minutes to upload a couple of hundred images before walking down to catch up with a handful of Perth blokes in the Red Bull hospitality suite. After that I donned my pit tabard for 90 minutes photographing the action there. There’s always plenty happening with 20 cars coming and going as this selection of images will attest. Felipe Massa’s watch is quite a specimen.Daniel Ricciardo is one of very few drivers, perhaps the only one, who doesn’t get into the car with his helmet on, so he’s great to photograph.Sergio Perez was obviously feeling the heat as he took his off while waiting but kept that fetching balaclava on.Sebastian Vettel drove straight at me for this practice pit stop as the drivers often do when I position myself in this spot. It’s exhilarating and the feeling experienced when viewing them racing towards me through a wild angle lens, is something surreal. Thankfully they turn away before ploughing into me which makes for interesting slow shutter speed/wide angle lens shots.At one stage I went to the end of the pit straight and laid down on the grass to shoot these low angle shots of the drivers practicing their starts. Shooting low enough where you an see under the car gives a different perspective to these fine vehicles. Lewis Hamilton’s ritual of arranging his “tackle” as he squeezes into his Mercedes is quite a precise procedure that takes 10 seconds or so. He chooses to handle this task himself as you can see. Straight after free practice 2 there was a high level meeting involving the bosses of the major teams in one of the hospitality suites. Here are Toto Wolff and Maurizio Arrivabene entering it. The issue in question was dealt with at the team bosses press conference a short time after. And on a final note, this Malaysian Air Force jet made quite a noise as it passed low over pit straight just prior to the afternoon session, bringing out all of the team personnel from their garages to witness the spectacle.It’s qualifying tomorrow and if it’s wet, the Red Bulls might be a chance to take out pole position otherwise Sebastian Vettel looks most likely to score that prize.
Bye for now, more tomorrow.