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Photographing the 2019 Season

Photographing the 2019 Season

In my quest to visit every circuit on the calendar I planned to start and end the 2019 season with full weekends at the exotic locations of Bahrain and Singapore with my traditional race-day only outing at Silverstone and Spa in between.

Photographically, my challenge is always to get one good image that characterises the circuit and importantly for those I have been to before, is to find something new.
For Bahrain I wanted to show the barren, semi-desert nature of the setting. Spectating possibilities at the Sakhir circuit are restricted to the main straight and the first and last bends with one exception. There is no access beyond these areas, no general admission nor roaming between grandstands. The one exception is the Oasis Stand situated above the support race garages behind the main paddock looking out over the back of the circuit. So this is the stand I chose which came with the added bonus of being able to mingle with the F2 teams and get familiar with the latest crop of rising stars.

I was also hoping to capture the night race atmosphere but the landscape beyond the track was insufficiently illuminated under the floodlights to show any features or detail save for one rock face which was lit to give it a reddish glow. So I settled for an afternoon practice shot of Sebastian Vettel’s Ferrari running between Bahrain’s unique exotically patterned run-off areas with the barren desertscape as the background.

Having watched motor racing at Silverstone for the last forty-six years, there is no accessible area that I have not taken a photograph of or from even allowing for the circuit’s numerous face-lifts. With the restrictions of limited track time and the large race day crowd I decided to check out the view from the giant wheel during the Grand Prix. I waited until the race was well underway with the cars spread out around the circuit but had no idea of what, or how much I would be able to see.

In fact when you are up there the giant wheel is not so giant and only a limited section of track between Brooklands and Luffied is visible for about one third of the wheel’s revolution. Unbeknown to me, whilst making my way to the wheel, the safety car had been deployed bunching the cars up so I was surprised that on my first revolution there was only empty track. But by next time around the cars had been released again and I was at just the right height as the two Mercedes lead the field beneath me with the BRDC Suite and Northamptonshire countryside below and beyond. So, for the cost of an extra five pounds (3 revolutions) I did find my new view.

Spa presents the same challenge to me as Silverstone. But on the footpath that leads up the hill behind Eau Rouge to the top of Raidillon there are a couple of areas where it is possible to get a glimpse of the track between the trees and grandstands. From just the right spot you can look across the valley to the exit of la Source hairpin with the support race pits on your left – a classic Spa view. I decided to take a photograph of the start from here and hung around until I could get my lens up against the fence to capture first time winner Charles Leclerc leading the field down towards Eau Rouge on the first lap whilst the tail-enders were still coming out of la Source, several making use of the corner’s generous run-off area.

And so to Singapore – or not as it turned out. All ready to go with a Qantas direct flight, a hotel on Robertson Quay within walking distance of the nearest circuit entrance and a three-day premier walkabout ticket, on the morning of departure I had to cancel.So singapore in 2020 it will be to bookend my season with the inaugural Vietnam Grand Prix and whatever else I fancy in between.