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Photographing the 2020 Season

Photographing the 2020 Season


It was looking as if my 2020 season was going to be a complete write-off when the Vietnam and Singapore Grands Prix were cancelled followed by Silverstone and Spa being designated as ‘closed-door’ events. In fact at one stage it was looking as if there would be no motor racing at all this year. But thanks to the collective efforts of those who run Formula One and the owners of Brands Hatch and Portimão circuits, not to mention a little dedication on my part, I did manage to salvage a reasonable season.

The dedication on my part relates to the British Grand Prix. A closed event it may have been, but if there was a Grand Prix taking place in this country there was no way I was not going to be there. I had no intention of trespassing or breaking in, I would leave that to the professionals of Extinction Rebellion, but I thought there must be something worth photographing from public accessible areas to document the event.

In fact I did better than expected and manged to see and photograph cars on track. The image I particularly like was taken from the Dadford Road where it runs alongside the track at the exit of Club Corner. The screen on the perimeter fencing to prevent prying eyes from prying is woven fabric and semi-transparent so the silhouettes of the cars were clearly visible behind. Panning with a slow shutter speed made the screen disappear whilst rendering the cars semi-transparent and ghost-like which seemed appropriate for a ‘ghost event’. The car in the picture is Lewis Hamilton’s winning Mercedes.

If you want to know what watching Formula One in the 1970s was like then go to the Masters Festival at Brands Hatch which is what I did in August. Hopefully, the image of the 6-wheel Tyrrell P34 shows all that was good about that era – close access to the cars on track with no high fencing obstructing the view, scenic circuits unspoiled by huge expanses of run-off areas and the diversity of instantly recognisable car designs. Although the Tyrrell pictured is designated as chassiss number 9, this model is a replica built to original specification and was actually making its race debut. It’s just a pity the image does not come with sound.

The addition of Portugal to the calendar with a limited number of spectators not only brought the chance of attending a Grand Prix but also at a new circuit. I wanted to take a photograph showing why the Circuit at Portimão has earned itself the moniker of the ‘Algarve Rollercoaster’. With no prior knowledge of the venue and access being restricted to your chosen viewing area only with no circulation, I took pot luck on a grandstand up the hill towards the top end of the circuit. It turned out to be a good choice and hopefully the wide-angle photograph showing a pair of Alpha Tauri in the track’s twists and swoops with the rugged Algarve hills as a backdrop, does the job.

And finally, included is a photograph of World Champion Lewis Hamilton’s Mercedes, also taken at Portimão. Not only is he an exceptional talent but this season’s black Mercedes livery looked particularly good.