Melbourne turned it on today for the first grand prix of the 2017 seasonArriving around noon I headed over the paddock where there was plenty of activity with teams running backwards and forwards prepping for the 4pm race.
At 2.25pm a throng of around 150 ravenous media types assembled near the pits in readiness to photograph all the drivers. Well, what a bun fight that was. There was shouting, name calling, pushing, pulling and jockeying for positions as they made their way out to the stage area for this annual event and everyone wanted the prime spot.
I decided it was pointless taking the same shot as everyone else was taking so I stood at the very back and raised a 5DSR with an 11-24mm lens on it, high above the photographers and ended up with a totally unique picture.
Straight after that, the drivers headed off on a lap around the circuit in the back of some open top classics, with Daniel Ricciardo the clear favourite with both the media and the crowd.
Then it was off on the bus to turn 6 again where I was hoping, like every other photographer there, that there might be an incident on the turn. Alas it wasn’t to be in fact the best that happened was a lock up that brought about some smoke as every other car filed through one by one in a high speed procession led by Lewis Hamilton.
After a few laps I moved further along the track stopping at the various cutouts to see if I could find a shot but found little on offer so I headed for the tower at turn 9. It’s one of 3 towers provided for photographers and provides a shot back towards the city, however, we were shooting into the sun and I couldn’t find a shot that excited me so I invested 10 minutes shooting some panning shots and was delighted to find 3 or four shots that featured the driver’s helmet in focus, these two being the better ones, After that, I walked briskly back to the pits to ready myself for the finish scene.
Here again the media pack was 100+ strong and extremely eager to stake their position to document the celebtrations of the winner Sebastien Vettel.
I managed to get right up the front and as the cars were driven back into parc ferme in front of me, I once again hoisted the 5DSR with the 11-24m lens above the excited mass of media but didn’t get a shot.
Then there was this mighty surge forward by those behind and for a moment it looked like it might get very cramped and ugly. I chose to exit that front row spot after taking a couple of shots on the 70-200mm of the winner and moved to the back to capture the scene from on high.
After Vettel’s speech and the booing of Lewis, it was time to spray the champagne and then everybody vacated the pits while the punters on the other side of the pit wall looked through the plexglass at all of us.
After wandering around the paddock for an hour, where the teams were feverishly packing up and Ferrari were cracking open the champagne, I walked back down pit lane and was delighted to find the Mercedes returning from parc ferme with the most gorgeous light playing on the bodywork.
I spent another 15 minutes wandering back along the rapidly disappearing F1 garages and found a couple of pics to round out the day.
At around 7pm I’d had enough so I took my final shot (below) and headed home. 38 hours of shooting over 4 days and I’ve come away with a handful of shots that I am thrilled with. It was a great introduction to a race weekend, now I have to see if I can secure a Chinese visa in time to make it to the 2nd GP of the year, this time in Shanghai.