In the week leading up to the grand prix all the talk was about the Red Bull drivers Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel and what the atmosphere would be like in the team after the accident in Turkey. We had the news that Webber’s contract had been extended along with a picture of them laughing together as if to say everything was back to normal.
But I was watching them very closely on Thursday during the autograph session and it’s pretty obvious there is still a bit of a problem. They weren’t acknowledging each other as much as usual and it seemed a little cold. I wouldn’t say it’s a divide in the team, but they’re certainly not as friendly as they were before. They now know where they stand with each other; they know that they are huge rivals and that each other is willing to take a big risk if it means they can beat the other. That changes the dynamic.
But for the most part it was all good fun and, with the World Cup swinging into action, there was a great atmosphere inside the paddock. Lots of the TV crews were trying to get footage of the drivers getting involved and showing off their football skills. One broadcaster had a good ploy where they would just roll a ball on the ground towards a driver to see if they would flick it up and do a couple of keep ups. It worked every time and it was great to see the drivers taking something a little less seriously. Of course, it made for good photos for me too.
On Friday evening we got wind that Schumacher was wearing his German football shirt in the briefing, so we all gathered outside the Mercedes building to try and catch him when he came out into the paddock. But instead of coming out of the front where we were waiting, he came out the side where the German broadcaster RTL had him, Rosberg and Sutil all lined up in Germany shirts with their names on the back. So they got a shot of their names and then they all turned round to give the thumbs up – it was a bit corny, very German. But, again, I got in there and snapped away, and got some good photos despite the RTL guys saying “no flash, no flash!”
Another interesting thing I came across was a 3D camera that they had out at turn two. It was a bit bizarre because they carried it out midway through qualifying and only caught the end of Q3. I’ve heard they have to do a lot of work on the images to calibrate them properly after they’ve been shot, so I’m not sure when we see the finished result or exactly what the purpose was. It took two guys to carry it out there and I spoke to one of them who said it was all a bit trial and error at the moment.
They certainly won’t start broadcasting it like that anytime soon, it’s more for promotional material for companies like LG. It will be interesting to see if it works in F1, but I would have thought it would work better in and around the pits than out on track, because there is more to focus on with cars at close quarters and people walking around.
For the race I spent most of time shooting at the first two corners because, a bit like Turkey, there was so much action that you didn’t want to miss anything. Being there also meant that I could get back to the pits after the finish to watch the cars coming back to the pitlane. I got some great shots of Lewis rolling into parce ferme, he undid his seatbelt and was punching the air to the cheers of the crowd.
When he parked the car I was able to run forward to get right underneath the podium and next to Lewis’s girlfriend Nicole Scherzinger, who was stood there with her young niece. In the end it proved to be an inspired decision, because when Lewis got up on to the podium he was looking down at Nicole and I was right there to capture the photos. It also meant that when he started spraying the champagne he was doing it right towards her and I was in the perfect position shoot back up to the podium. I got a bit soaked but it was well worth it.
Next up we’ve got Valencia, which is based around a port and is a fun circuit to go to. It still lacks the glamour of somewhere like Monaco but we can get some good photos there, with the old architectural buildings and also the ultra-modern arts’ centre in the background. This season we’re going there a bit earlier in the year so the temperatures won’t be as high as when we’ve been there in August the last two years. I’m hoping that will make things a bit more interesting than it’s been in the past, because the teams might not be able to rely on the tyre data they have had from previous years, so it could mix it up. We’ll just have to wait and see on that, but it should be another good weekend either way.