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Monaco allows you to get frighteningly close to F1 cars, closer than any other track, and today I got as close as you can “safely” get to them.   For the first practice session I headed to turn 10 and stood a metre from the cars, protected by the orange coloured waist high armco you can see in this shot; and loved it. The feeling was not as scary as I thought.  The cars have shaved off much of their speed as they negotiate the left hander; they are probably only doing 80km/hr by the time that round the armco but still, you feel the wind that they drag behind them and it commands your attention.  I wasn’t on my own as you can see and the beauty of this corner is that you have no armco in front of you as the cars pass.

In the afternoon, though I got even closer by shooting through this gap in the armco at the exit of turn 16.  Now here, my lens is 20cm from the metal and the cars are probably not much more than that away on the other side as they hit 150+km/hr.  You can see in this shot exactly how close they get to it and in the pics further down, what the shots look like with the armco top and bottom of the frame.

Make no mistake, the wind that follows them is significant and every time they passed, I couldn’t help but swear; it is bracing!

Harking back to the morning session, the boats along the stretch between turns 11 and 12 have to move back 10m from the dock as they are perceived to be in danger there.I moved around between turns 10 and 18, all the time being able to get very close to the action and using wider lenses than normal to include the crowd which was sizable for day 1. Of course throughout the day there is a cavalcade of mandatory driver shots on offer and I was happy with a handful of them including this one of Daniel Ricciardo which is a favourite; I love the soft Monaco skyline in the background.

I spent the first hour of the second 90min afternoon practice session in the pits and it was very squashy.  Unlike the other tracks, space here is at a premium, so there were mechanics, media, marshals etc. tripping over each other. One must pay attention if one is to survive.

After the session two cars were selected (a Red Bull and a Ferrari) to be weighed and both drivers, Sebastian Vettel and Daniel Ricciardo had to have their weight recorded.

Prior to the session, Lewis Hamilton took a gentleman for laps of the track in the safety car.  The fellow bought the ride for quite a sum at a charity auction and would have thoroughly enjoyed the experience I reckon.  Lewis was accompanied by a bevy of beauties today who may well be Victoria’s Secret models. They were young, attractive and enthusiastic and watched the session from above the Mercedes garage.Today was a great day to be an F1 photographer and tomorrow I get another go at it with 2 x 1 hour sessions.  But before I sign off, I have to tell you about the guy in this pic with the megaphone. He was hilarious and commanded attention, from EVERYONE! He was perched way up on the hill above the track and would call out to the drivers using his megaphone as they headed back over to the paddock. “Hey Kimi give us a wave!”, “Sebby baby how about a wave!” etc. and have no doubt, he had all of the punters in stitches AND got a wave EVERY time.  I want to meet that man!