Aussie Rules

What a great weekend, Monaco never disappoints.

The man of the moment was most definitely Mark Webber and the celebrations on the Red Bull Energy Station rounded the whole weekend off brilliantly. I arrived there quite early, knowing that something would happen because they have a history of celebrating in style ever since Christian Horner jumped into the pool there wearing nothing but a Superman cape in 2006. I wasn’t disappointed, and before the drivers arrived there was a whole bunch of people applauding all the team members one by one as they came out on the decking, it was almost like a hall of fame or red carpet event.

So it was building up nicely and it wasn’t long before 60 or 70 people had crowded around the pool, just waiting for the drivers to arrive. But the team must have got impatient with all that hanging around because they started throwing themselves in the pool and pretty soon half of them were soaking wet. When the drivers did arrive Sebastian Vettel was pushed in almost immediately while Mark stood back as if to say “This is my day and I’m going to jump in the pool in my own time”. He took his boots off, which seemed a bit bizarre to me, and then did a perfect backflip into the water to the cheers of everybody watching. Ideally I would have had my underwater camera with me so I could have got a shot of Mark with the trophy from below the surface – that would have been the perfect picture but maybe next time.

The whole weekend belonged to Mark and it was great to share a bit of that. In Parc Ferme he spotted me and gave me the thumbs up and then when he came through the media centre to go to the press conference he gave me a high five with a massive great slap on my hand. It was a great moment and one that I won’t forget for a while.

In the end we got some great celebration shots, which is important in Monaco because the podium is always in the shade and the photos don’t always pop out at you as much as you’d like. The only exciting bit of the ceremony is when they spray the champagne over the mechanics and my brother Keith was there with them to cover the action. So a lot of people got soaked with champagne and a lot of people got soaked in the pool – you could say we still had a wet weekend despite there being no rain.

But Monaco is always special whatever the weather and I think we did a good job at catching the action this weekend. After the race a guy came up to me and asked if I wanted pictures from the crash. My initial reaction was “what crash?” I’d seen the Rubens Barrichello one at Massenet but I had no idea what had happened between Jarno Trulli and Karun Chandhok. Anyway, we ended up bartering with this guy at the bar because Keith had a bit of cash on him and we eventually came to a deal. As a photo agency you feel you should cover every angle and in the end we negotiated a fair price so that he was happy and we were happy – I think Keith’s words to him were “take your girlfriend out for nice dinner on the town”. A lot of the fans that go to the race – that aren’t VIPs or Monegasques – are on a tight budget so I’m sure it helped a bit.

There were a lot of celebrities there over the weekend and as usual I was working on the grid before the race. Monaco is so much more difficult than anywhere else because it’s so packed full of people that you barely have enough space to breathe, let alone take photos. I decided to start at the back of the grid with Hispania and work forward, and as I did I couldn’t help but bump into celebs. Almost immediately I came across Naomi Campbell and then just a little further down there was Michael Douglas with Lewis Hamilton. There was one guy with Lewis who I didn’t recognise but just started snapping anyway – I later found out it was the movie star Chris Tucker. Then there was Mick Jagger, the Sugerbabes and Richard Branson, I just kept bumping into people and they were all willing to pose for photos. But don’t be fooled, it was hard work down there.

Overall it was a great atmosphere and the weekend was only slightly tainted by the news that our flight home had been cancelled (again) due to the ash cloud. So for the second race this season we had to find another route back and in the end we went by car, boat and taxi, making very good time along the way. I just hope talking about cancelled flights doesn’t become a regular feature in this column this season.


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