When I pulled back the curtains in my Shanghai hotel room this morning and couldn’t see from one side of the river to the other, I feared we might once again see no racing today. It turns out what I thought was cloud was in fact smog and on my drivers dash he has an air quality meter which read 237. In Perth, the readout would be 10, so clearly there’s a fair bit of shit in the air here.
Thankfully, out at the track, the air quality was slightly better and visibility was much improved on yesterday, so much so, that you could see the buildings in the background for the first time.
Oh yeah, see the “When you Drive” sign, that’s on the windows of the media centre, it runs the full width of the track.
Moving on, the morning saw me in the paddock looking for arriving drivers and Daniel Ricciardo certainly stood out.Then there was a 60-minute free practice session at 10am and while I intended to head to turn one to shoot cars on the track given they’d only been on the track for 30 mins yesterday, I jagged a pit pass, so I headed there instead.
You have to understand, the pit is hectic and highly dangerous. Each team has a spotter who’s job it is to keep media and others out of harm’s way. When the teams race out to receive a car, you have to react quickly but when your eye is in the camera’s viewfinder, you’re often oblivious and rely on those spotters to keep you safe. Thank you to two of them today. Anyway, there was plenty to shoot.And I thought this was rather quirky, the pope riding along with one of the Force India drivers.
At one stage I went up to the entry road to pit lane and liked this shot because the cars are on the crest at one point with the high rise towers behind them – what might the shot look like if the air was clear and the sky blue, or even better, a setting sun?I had noticed the super-sized billboard art in the pit lane and when Esteban Ocon walked past it, I shot away hoping to get his head completely covering one of the drivers and in this case, he obscured Lewis’ head completely. It helped that the driver’s race suit was largely black and white resulting in the pink helmet dominating the shot, which was one of my two favourite shots today, the other (also involving Force India) being the featured image at the top which was a long exposure shot taken across the pit lane and through wire.After a quick feed in the media canteen it was out to turn one for qualifying. I’d been told that certain cars threw up plenty of sparks as they went into the right hander, so I positioned myself there for 20 minutes hoping to emulate my Melbourne turn 6 shot. Although it wasn’t nearly as large a spark plume, I managed a couple of OK shots, this being the best.I then went to the top of the straight and shot cars heading around the right hand first turn and was happy to nail a couple of sharp shots but without sparks.After qualifying it was back to the paddock where international TV crews were interviewing drivers so I shot from above.
and then headed back to the media centre to get this out to you.
Oh, the race will go ahead tomorrow regardless of the weather (and it looks ordinary) as the authorities have made arrangements to clear roads between the track and the city if there is an accident. It’s good to have the government on side.