The COTA tower here at the Austin circuit is tall, exactly what degree of tallness it is I can’t tell you but I can confirm it takes 7 minutes to get to the top of it via the stairs. I know this because I had to climb it today. God knows why, because about 6 minutes after I started climbing, another photographer friend rolled up, caught the lift (which was denied to me) and got out at the very same time I arrived on foot, puffing.
Anyway, I needed the exercise and the climb was worth it as the photos were pretty unique. The run off areas were freshly painted two days ago with stars and stripes and certainly enhance the images that are sent around the world.
I shot from the tower in the afternoon, but in the morning there was fog and light rain around when I headed out to the far reaches of the circuit to get this iconic shot of the cars cresting with the COTA tower in the background.It was recommended that I colour the wire fence we had to shoot through, with a black maker pen. The reason is it reflect less light into the lens and on this section of the track, most of the wire had been blackened.
About 15 minutes into the session, Daniel Ricciardo came over the crest and ended up all out of shape; I was thankful I was ready for it. He rescued the spin though and continued on and shortly after, I walked back towards turn 1, stopping at various spots along the way. There is plenty of pink at the track to reinforce the breast cancer awareness campaign. Teams were wearing pink shoes, amiable CNN sports reporter Amanda Davies was clad in a pink outift today that looked super in the early morning sun,and the red pit lane stripe has been swapped for a pink one.It’s worth noting that my better pics end up on the F1.com site as they are a client of Sutton Images which is run by Mark Sutton (pictured below). I have a commercial arrangement with Suttons which is headed up by Mark (below). He’s been photographing F1 since Jesus played full back for Jerusalem and he’s often stopped by punters for autographs. (no bullshit). His son James (below) was recently inducted into the sport, landing a role handling the social media side of the LAT and Suttons businesses. They are both from England, but don’t hold that against them.
After 45 minutes shooting from the tower in the afternoon, I took the lift down and spent the remainder of the session looking for a ground level shot. After that I waited for the Ferrari drivers to roll up at the amphitheatre for an autograph session. Kimi Raikkonen rolled up 15 minutes late, signed autographs for about 7 minutes before leaving.Sebastian Vettel put back his arrival by an hour much to the disappointment of the fans.
After 90 minutes or so of picture editing, I headed out of the media centre about 6.30pm and took a walk down pit lane. There I came across a red carpet, a stage and a dozen or so people rehearsing the radically different, and typically American, pre-race ceremony. For the first time, Micheal Buffer (the “let’s get ready to rumble” guy) will be introducing the drivers to the world over the PA.
I was curious yesterday as to why all the drivers were heading into one of the paddock buildings in their race gear. Having seen tonight’s rehearsal, I can tell you that when each driver is announced by Michael Buffer, there will be some sexy video overlay featuring the drivers playing up to the camera. Lewis looks like a rock star in his, Daniel Ricciardo simply has a huge smile on his face. I hope the telecast you see features these driver intros as it is mightly impressive and will be worth tuning in for.
After watching the rehearsal I decided to try some slow shutter speed shots of the teams working on vehicles (thanks to Clive Mason for the idea), The Renault shot worked the best. But there were some other nice night time shots to be had. While I was taking the shot above, a Williams team member stood in front of me for some time and only moved away to get something to shield the car from me, allowing me to take this pic. Teams put quite an effort into protecting their secrets and with long lenses, photographers present a threat. I couldn’t tell what’s on the underside, but no doubt the other teams could.
After a 30 minute drive back to Austin and a quick shower, it was down to the hotel bar to partake of sushi while pressing buttons on my Apple Mac laptop. Now it’s to say goodnight. So…. good night and let’s communicate tomorrow after qualifying.
PS Lewis is red hot favourite again.