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Three races into a season of 20 and I’m loving every moment of this strange F1 world. The people, the colour, the smells, the countries, the travel and photography; fantastic.

This week it’s the Russian Grand Prix and normally on day one (Thursday) of a race weekend I would be getting a feel for the new track, photographing the drivers as they enter the paddock, walking the track and fronting up for the afternoon press conference. However, I spent the entire Thursday (and some of the day prior) travelling from Perth to Sochi via Dubai and Moscow (29 hours), albeit very comfortably.

The seaside city of Sochi is 2 hours by air from Moscow. Although I figure I was lucky to make at all as on the S7 flight, another airliner came past us no more than a kilometer away and at around the same height.

I spoke to the captain about it and he claimed it was 1,000 feet below us but I’ve done a bit of flying, both as pilot and passenger and I doubt that plane was 1,000 feet below us.

Anyway, Sochi is a modern and impressive city on the western coast of Russia. The track is about 45mins drive from the city where I’m staying. As for the track, it too is impressive.

It is in the Olympic park and is shiny and new. I kicked off the morning locating a desk in the photographers’ roomand checking out the media café and then headed to the far end of the track for the first free practice session.

I positioned myself at turn 6 so I could photograph the cars coming towards me and included the Olympic torch and the magnificent snow-capped mountains in the background.

It felt more like Switzerland than Russia to me with the stunning mountain backdrop.

I must say, the Russian people at the track have been sensational. While most speak no English they are always happy to help if they can. Tonight as I left, Elizabeth from the media centre walked me about a kilometer to meet up with my driver and her English was impressive.

After shooting from turn 7 I proceeded to turns 8, 9 and 10 looking for a shot.

I didn’t even spot the sparks on the above shot until I downloaded the pics back in the media centre.

I only spotted a few drivers today as I wasn’t around the pits. Lewis Hamilton dodged most of the photographers by walking the back alley behind the paddock buildings but I found him. Unfortunately he didn’t raise his head.

The warm weather (25 degrees C I’m guessing) made for a pleasant afternoon practice session. I was told that last week it was hailing so I was thankful the event wasn’t on then and the rest of the weekend is looking super too.

I was lucky to score a spot in a group of 10 photographers who were taken to to the top of the 7 storey ice hockey rink next to the track (the blue building).

After signing a comprehensive waiver, we were allowed to perch ourselves on the ledge and shoot down.It afforded a stunning view of turn 2 and 3 and I spent 40 minutes up there using a number of different lenses to mix up the shots.

Half way through the session I moved to the grandstand on the big sweeping curve and shot from a number of spots trying for different angles and looks.

Today was a great day to be me and tomorrow, I look forward to more interesting photos and tales from behind the iron curtain.