After the three practice sessions here in Singapore, it was looking like Daniel Ricciardo would wind up on pole for Sunday’s race, however, that wasn’t to be with Sebastian Vettel taking the honours and Dan’s team-mate Max Verstappen snatching second spot leaving Daniel 3rd and starting from the second row of the grid.
It was slightly cooler in Singapore for qualifying day and there was a light breeze blowing which was most welcome, although my shirt remained wet the whole day, like yesterday and the day prior. With the action taking place in the evening, I arrived at the track at 3pm which is quite alien as we are normally there at 10am on any given normal Saturday.
As an accredited freelance photographer, I can sell my images to anyone and I have a number of clients. One of them, Suttons, has been in operation since 1980, has an archive of more than 4 million images and this year was bought by Motorsport.com. I sit with the Suttons crew at each event as they have the widest distribution of my clients.
At this event, Suttons has 5 people shooting (Manuel, Lionel, Mirko, Mark and me) and one editing (Mark’s son James). Normally there’d only be three shooters and perhaps James editing, however, Suttons is shooting for the Singapore GP authority and as such, needs a couple of extras to shoot the support events, concerts, crowds etc.
I enjoy photographing the paddock action. It’s a lot of waiting around and then a few seconds of pressure photography each time someone of note approaches. On qualifying day, Kimi and Lewis came from the back entrance, meaning there were less photographers around to get them arriving.
A smile from Lewis; that’s a prized shot. I also had a few drivers looking straight down the lens. The guy in the black polo shirt below ran interference on many of my shots today with his penchant for selfies.
I’m not sure Daniel was that impressed with him when I took this shot. Here I’m trying to get a shot of Max Verstappen as he walks down the paddock while at the same time mucking up my colleague Mirko Stange’s shot. Thankfully he sent it to me.Here is Britta Roeske, Ferrari Press Officer, who is often by Sebastian’s side; she holds much sway. The Singapore Airlines grid girls made one of their regular parades through the paddock and as per normal, I approached one of the girls at the back and asked her to cheekily look back at me over her left shoulder for this shot. It’s almost always picked up by f1.com which is also a large client of Suttons.Thankfully there was no rain forecast so I didn’t need to lug around wet weather gear for me or my cameras and for the third practice session, I went to this corner, however, upon arrival I found the gate on this photographer’s area locked.Leaving all my gear there, I headed back to find someone to unlock it but had no luck. Upon my return, I was delighted to find that one of the local photographers had picked the lock so I and 3 others, were able to shoot wide angle shots of the cars 3 metres away. While the shots were acceptable, the Singapore GP people probably won’t use them as a) the stand in the background is not full and b) it’s not at night. Twenty metres back up the track there was a larger hole that allowed me to shoot the cars with some of the city buildings in the background. I shot from head height, first.and then from knee height. As you can see, the fence and the Fly Emirates signage disappears behind the car when I shoot low and this is preferable photography-wise.
After 10 minutes there I moved 50 metres further backwards along the track and shot the cars coming towards me. I had no idea that several of the cars would be throwing up huge showers of sparks, but was pleased to be there when they did. On the shot above I used a shutter speed of 1/160th of a second which meant I could get the car sharp but the spark trails weren’t as long as the shot below at 1/80th of a second. Having the shutter open longer though makes it trickier to keep the car sharp as the lens needs to move at the exact speed as the car and that is a practiced art.I did get some nice tight shots using my long lens too. For qualifying I went back to the sparking section and this time shot from the rear for the first 18 minutes of the session. I was the only photographer there and started off shooting at 1/640th of a second just to get some sharp shots in the bag.Then 1/320th of a second for some slightly longer trails.Then 1/160th of a second for even longer trails.And 1/80th of a second.Only a few cars sparked, and not on every pass, so there were limited opportunities to get a sharp shot and while the above shot isn’t, it certainly is an impressive spectacle to watch. I also followed the cars as they headed around the right hander. Between the first and second section of qualifying I had to re-position to the top of the grandstand overlooking Marina Bay where I shot slow and fast shutter speeds for different looks. F1.com, which has the most F1 followers (more than 3.6 million), even picked up one of my shots for their banner pic, it’s just a shame they don’t credit photographers.After Q2 I had 7 minutes to re-position and shot from 3 different spots during the final 12 minutes. After that it was back to the media centre for the press conference where Daniel and Seb were smiley,and Max was sweaty.
The race starts at 8pm today and I must say that being an Australian, from the same home town as Daniel Ricciardo and my kids having gone to the same school he went to, I have my fingers crossed that at 9.50pm tonight I’m singing the Australian national anthem standing below the podium.