I’m writing this blog at 10pm, sitting at a card table under the stars outside one of the exits of the Barcelona F1 track. I’m waiting for a taxi after watching Lewis Hamilton win the Spanish Grand Prix over Sebastian Vettel with West Australian Daniel Ricciardo, in 3rd spot.
The punters were out in force in the Fanzone behind the main grandstand from an early hour and there were some interesting attractions like this flying fox. Shooting a couple of hundred pics in half an hour was just the start on a day where I shot over 4,000. That would have been virtually impossible back in the days of film.
Around 11am I went down to pit lane and spotted photographers racing after this smooth rooster.
I thought I’d best get a shot of him since he’d created quite a scene. Turns out he’s a European footballer, do you recognize him?
The drivers’ parade was next and Barcelona had gathered a bevy of local lovelies to welcome the drivers and some even had T-shirt canons. I did this at West Coast Eagles games about 15 years ago and they were a big hit.I then headed to turn 4 which overlooks turns 1 and 2 where I would photograph the start and the first 5 or 6 laps. There’s a metal hand rail there which allowed me to mount a camera to it and lock off a wide shot of the field rounding the first 2 turns. I connected a receiver to the top of that camera and and put a transmitter on the top of my hand held camera with a longer lens on it. Every time I took a tight shot of the field, the other camera took a wide shot. It was like having an extra photographer helping me ou. So as the field roared towards the first turn, and the noise is certainly impressive, I started shuttering away and noticed that Verstappen and Raikkonen were heading on to the Pirelli paint.I then re-focused on the rest of the field coming through. The height I was shooting from certainly offers a better viewing of the bunched field than a ground level shot.
The beauty of that spot is the cars pass on the other side of the service road some 12 seconds after they round turn 2 so you get more bang for your buck. A video of the 30 photographers stationed there, racing from one side of the road to the other would be interesting to see.
I stayed at the top end of the track until I moved back to the paddock and shot a variety angles and shutter speeds. Mid race it became evident that there was a retirement at turn 1, about 200m from where I was, so I headed over to find Stoffel Vandoorne walking away from his car which was then removed.Only minutes later Valtteri Bottas retired from the race not far from me so I photographed the marshals sorting out the fire in the engine.The cars continued racing clockwise around the circuit until they’d completed 66 laps and Lewis Hamilton was the first man home. The drivers were then wheeled out on to the podium to accept their prizes, Lewis launching his into the air. After the champagne spray it was a lengthy wait for the Mercedes crew to pose for their celebratory team photo. I noted that Monster soft drinks were handed out to various front row crewmembers by the team’s sponsorship people which would be part of the deal with that company no doubt.And then the crew doused Lewis in champagne. Just after all this shenanigans, I watched the woman in the bottom of this pic, who is in charge of managing Lewis’ movements, discuss Lewis’ next movement. She was dealing with the logistics of moving him 30metres for another photo shoot. It’s a tricky affair moving the star of F1, as he is dogged by media and marshals at every step, especially straight after a race win.On the way back to the media centre I spotted Daniel Ricciardo in the Red Bull hospitality suite along with his parents Joe and Grace. Joe was a fair racer in his time and I have caught up with him a couple of times in Perth so I dropped in to congratulate both of them on their son’s 3rd place today, before Dan rushed off to catch a flight, mum Grace in the background.After that it was back to the media centre to sift through too many photos to find the ones worthy of airing on the net through various outlets. Thankfully there was food on offer which meant I didn’t have to stop toiling away on this laptop.
In 10 days I’m off to Monaco for what is regarded as the premier GP of the season and it should be a cracker. You’ll see plenty of images from that race on my blog.