There was not a ripple on the Black Sea this morning as Sasha drove me to the track along the Sochi coast. A bevy of pleasure boats were out on the water soaking up the gold medal conditions and it was a magnificent sight.
Since negotiating an agreement with Sutton Images to supply them with a range of my shots, I now see them regularly in the “Best Of” galleries on F1.com which is most welcomed even if they don’t credit the photographer.
There was plenty of action in the Paddock with teams, media, corporates, dignitaries and celebrities doing their thing. Here’s Bernie Ecclestone with his wife talking to Niki Lauda.I got a smile out of Lewis as he headed for the drivers’ parade and below, Chase Carey (head of Liberty Media the owner of F1) poses for a shot with the delightful Maria in the paddock.
Maria and Marina (above) snared a pic with this German TV host who is always dressed loudly.
At 1.30pm the drivers navigated their way through the media throng as they headed to the starting straight for the drivers’ parade where they are driven around the track on the back of a flat bed truck to wave to adoring fans and marshals.
While the drivers traverse the track, a throng of media and others mill around on the grid awaiting their return.
I was about to head back to the Media Centre when I noticed the impressive Kosak dancing display near the start line so I got permission to shoot from the raised starting platform and the pit wall. It was a most impressive display but it must have been mighty warm in those heavy suits given the 27 degree temperature. The race started at 3pm and I was positioned at turn 5 where I had been on day one and once again, had the angle all to myself for the start and the pics were lovely, with the mountains in the background looking super.
The beauty of a shot like this is that because it features at least 3 cars, it can be used for marketing and promotion so is highly saleable.
After the cars passed the first time, I uploaded the best pic direct from the camera to the Sutton website so it was available to their clients within 5 minutes of being shot. That didn’t happen 25 years ago.
After a few laps at this turn I moved 40m to my right to shoot the cars going away from me as they ran wide over the rumble strip.At turn 4 there is a small photographers’ window cut into the wire mesh fence that allows for a shot of cars, crowd and the Olympic Flame Tower so that held my attention for a few laps before I caught the photographers’ bus that runs around the outside of the track. The cars continued around the track in a clockwise direction for the required number of laps and I continued to shoot images from a couple of other spots before heading back to the paddock to swap some lenses for the parc ferme and podium shots. There was some argy bargy at the gate getting into the parc ferme area and a mad dash for the best spots. I didn’t;t get much of note thanks to a cameraman and Kimi Raikkonen blocking my shot of the first time winner celebrating on top of his car although when Vatteri went to his crew, a few of us were able to get right behind him and shoot high for an intimate shot. The drivers then went upstairs to prepare for the presentations so I swapped positions enabling me to see the drivers coming out of the door behind the podium and was delighted to see the Russian President Vladimir Putin having a security briefing (I gather) with his team out of sight of almost everyone. He then came out on the podium and presented a trophy to Valtteri Bottas.
I then went to the press conference where Sebastian Vettel was chowing down on a banana while Kimi Raikkonnen sat stoney-faced. And then it was off to the Mercedes celebration in their garage which quickly led to a champagne dousing, which was the cue for cameramen and photographers to rush in for a better shot – it was mayhem with the first-time winner, Valtteri, lapping up the glory. Thank you to all my new Russian friends for making my short time in Sochi such an enjoyable one. Now it’s off to Moscow for some sightseeing and a couple of photos shoots with grid girl Anna (below) before a short stop in London and on to Barcelona for the 5th round of the F1 championship. And remember, please share this blog on your social media.