Today was my second race day and the day promised little more than 13 degrees celsius of heat and some rain. This meant 5 layers of clothing and rain gear for the cameras. So after suiting up in the media room, it was down to the paddock where Sky Sports were doing a live cross from the paddock.Amiable pit lane commentator Ted Kravitz was there too. If you’ve ever watched an F1 telecast, you would recognise his voice although here he was struggling with his zipper by the look of it. With just 90 minutes before race time, some of the drivers were out playing table tennis in pit lane. They were getting some tips for top Chinese ace Wang Liqin while a gang of media surrounded the table. There was McLaren driver Stoffel Vandoorne (in grey) teamed up with Renault’s Nico Hulkenberg.
Aussie Red Bull driver Daniel Ricciardo played alongside Felipe Massa, who is such a calm and lovely guy.Dan handed over his bat to a jovial Fernando Alonso.
After which, Fernando and Wang posed for a picture.
The drivers then headed out on to the track to do the driver parade on the top deck of a bus but that didn’t provide much of a pic so I waited for their return when the drivers who were featured on a huge poster, signed it as they returned to the peace of their garages. Max Verstappen was more than happy to smile for the cameras while doing so, thanks to a request from veteran British photographer Mark Sutton who is not shy about getting a shot.
Valtteri Bottas looked a bit bewildered by the whole thing.
Sebastian Vettel put his name on the pic willingly.While Lewis Hamilton was his aloof self, head down and straight back to the garage.
And Kimi Raikkonen, he was perhaps disinterested, not keen to acknowledge the throng choosing instead to just kept his head down.It was then off to the top of the starting straight early enough to nab one of only a few positions to shoot low through the fence with these hirsute European photographers and another 8 or so snappers behind us. You gotta be early to get the good spots No accidents on the first turn so I wandered further around that first corner, which is a tightening 270degree right-hander that provides some good angles. Here I stand below the cars and shoot slightly uphill.It was on this corner that I took a moment to really enjoy what I was doing. Seeing these magnificent machines doing battle at close quarters and just metres from me, is a real privilege. So many people I’ve spoken to who love this sport, say what I’m doing is their dream; it’s mine too.
The track continues to drop and turns left which allows photographers to stand high above the cars below and shoot with the grandstand in the background. I chose a slow shutter speed to blur the background and by panning with the Mercedes at the same speed, I had the car nicely in focus. There are a number of shuttle buses that run around the inside and outside of the track which you can flag down at any time and they are certainly appreciated but sometimes it’s better to walk it, looking for spots that offer something different.
And while no one ran off the track or cleaned another car up while I had a lens pointed at them, Nico Hulkenberg did have a fairly healthy lock-up here.My last stop trackside was at the end of the very long straight where I had to shoot through the wire mesh but with a 500mm lens pressed hard up against, it doesn’t register on the image. I was happy to see some sparks out of the back of Daniel Ricciardo’s car here, it adds a little bit extra to the shot.Then it was a mad dash back to the media centre to swap lenses and shoot the cars arriving into parc ferme from 9 storeys up with a 70-200mm lens and I was delighted with this pic of 1st plaegetter (Lewis Hamilton) and 2nd placegetter (Sebastian Vettel) having a hug. Then it was up to the podium where Lewis was chucking trophies around and spraying bubbly before the trio skulled the rest.The team personnel also head down to the podium to cheer on their boy although I’m sure someone hangs around the garage just in case some punter decides to wander through and swipe a tyre or helmet etc.Out the back of the pits in the paddock, the media awaited the arrival of the top 3 to glean from them all the secrets behind their day’s performance and I quite liked the soft light that played on Lewis’ face here.From there it was back to the pits again to watch the teams destruct their set ups as they have to get it on to aircraft bound for Bahrain tonight or tomorrow and was rewarded with a few shots I hadn’t banked on like this unusual view of Daniel Ricciardo as the big poster was being taken down.The grid girls were keen to smile.I came across Sergio Perez’s spirited and delightful sister Paola wearing her brother’s helmet and I asked her to pose in front of the large poster of her brother which she was more than happy to do.Hanging around the pits well after most have left, often results in surprising pics and when Lewis and the Mercedes team gathered around for a team shot, there weren’t too many media around to capture it thankfully but of course if a TV camera wants your spot, they trump you.
Above, Lewis is acknowledging a couple of hundred staunch supporters who hung around to celebrate his win.He and a helper/friend decided to run across the track so his friend/helper could take a pic of him in front of the crowd. Of course that meant the media pack followed. And on that note, I packed up my stuff and headed back to the city where I went through 3.223 photos to find the ones worthy of putting in front of you.
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