Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Final Race Day....

A great finale!...The Sun shone throughout with just a tiny smattering of rain...him upstairs must
drink Red Bull!
Such a unique atmosphere arriving to the track...chaos..hardly any security, although I was
asked to open my briefcase which included two daily newspapers for a friend at the track...
was told I couldn't bring newspapers or magazines into the circuit!...local police law I was told....in case I start a fire!...crazy....just in front were people selling programs...guess what they are made from!
All part of eccentric...curious circuit that is Interlagos.

10am and the grandstands were filling fast, I went to the FOM office in the paddock and was told I could go up in a helicopter at 12-30 to take pictures of the track....fantastic!
I was so pleased..really wanted to at some point this season and thought my chance had gone.
15 Min's up there circling the circuit and vicinity...the track looked so tiny...toy town...what a treat.
I was able to see the and appreciate the sheer size of the city and all the suburbs..
Still on a high after that I ran to the pitlane to wait for the grid walk...no grid girls, not sure why.
I arrived very early just as the teams were pushing and wheeling their gear up the incline to the starting positions...quite an incline too.
The crowd by this time were very excitable ..singing and clapping waiting for the Brazilian drivers especially Bruno Senna.
Earlier I was introduced to Viviane Senna (Ayrton's sister, and Bianca Senna her daughter and Bruno's sister).   So lovely to meet them, they are Royalty in Brazil..worshipped. Bianco wanted to chat after the race , to look for her.
The grid swelled very quickly, so aware that this was my last grid..so I wanted to absorb the wonderful atmosphere..It seemed to pass very quickly...I stayed around the senna car...lots of attention as he waved to his adoring fans..good to see.
I was told to go to the promoters office with 5 laps remaining to meet the City Mayor, State Governor and CEO of sponsor Petrobas.
Knowing that it would be very tight ..not much time to get to the Podium with the snappers, I arrived to the office with 7 laps to go.
Met Tommas the promoter, he explained to the dignitaries and they duly penned their piece...the track officials were getting nervous waiting for them to finish because they were presenting the trophies...........the last lap they finished!...I knew it would be too late for me to make the podium...I rushed to he gate but the photographers were already in position...gate closed!
The only podium I missed...spectacular one too with ticker tape raining down on the drivers.
It was more important to get the writings, I spoke to Keith Sutton- photographer if he would kindly send me some podium pics.

Straight after I went to the Lotus Renault garage to find Bianca Senna, waited a little while and spoke again with Viviane Senna, and said that I would love to give a painting to the Senna Foundation for then to Auction. Said the same to Bianca, she was delighted.

The Paddock was full  busy with goodbyes from various team members...although the break is so short these days...next race is mid march..but all will meet during testing early Feb.
I had a transfer to the hotel with some other people , some beers at the hotel then to the airport...all very odd
King is dead long live the king!!
It seems that the new season has already started in people minds....bizarre!
Saw Mark Webber queueing in front of me for boarding...no after race end of season drinks for him...it seemed people just wanted to head home.

So there we are.....One full season on the F1 merry-go-round!.....quite a ride it was..
So many great memories to reflect upon..the next 6 weeks I will be locked in my studio working on the paintings..its good that I will have a long run and momentum working  but will feel odd not readying myself for another race as I have done 18 times since the end of March!

I will post one more time with my considered reflections of the year...
I will post the final paintings too....watch this space!

There are more blogs to follow next year when the box set of prints taken from the paintings will be distributed by myself......

Sunday, 27 November 2011

Sao Paulo Samba Sunday!

Great anticipation...waiting to go to the track for the last time this year!....should be a special day.

Rain is expected..although looking out the window ...doesn't seem true.

You know we have only 5 winners this year from 18 races ..all 5 are world champions.....if one of the 5

wins today that would be a first!

I'd love to see a different winner saying that....yesterday Bruno Senna had the widest biggest smile in the paddock

after quali...think he finished 7th...Hamilton looked very downbeat!...they walked past each other.....

complete contrast!

I was able to walk over to the far side of the circuit during quali..next to a big grandstand that was full and rocking!....it's the closest to a football crowd I've seen all year....so many people wearing special yellow vests commemorating the tracks 40th year...very colourful and very Brazilian!

this race is a snappers dream!

The paddock was completely full..nightmare for the team engineers trying to move gear across the paddock...I really sense this end of term feeling ...it's as if the pressure has lifted temporarily and the teams can look forward to the break...very short break!

Today will be very busy...have to run the  promoters office during the race to catch the City Mayor and local governor and Sponsor CEO...all before I dash to the podium....to photograph Senna with the winners trophy aloft!!!...........

Lot's of drinking in the bar last night....there was a farewell party for Patrick Head from Williams,

He's retiring.
The whiskey measures in the bar...huge! ...not the little thimble size shots in the UK....

Saturday, 26 November 2011

Interlagos.....race weekend..Samba Sunshine!


Friday was such a full day...very warm too...good to know the Brazilian weather forecasters

are as bad as the Brits equivalent!...rain was expected......brilliant sunshine!

I saw the first signs of the Samba party that awaits!... first practise the grandstands were a third full but very vocal!...singing and dancing..can't wait to see the full grandstands, there are so many dotted around the track, great viewing for all, in each grandstand they can see pretty much the whole circuit....very different sound here too because the track is set in this bowl..different acoustics.

I was positioned on the first corner as the cars exit the pits..so close to the cars..I will always remember in future the very distinctive sweet smell of the burning fuel as the cars whizz pass...

It's certainly a great circuit ...the infrastructure is very dated...nevertheless very endearing...funny to

see the FOM offices in the paddock.....converted toilets!.....glamorous F1!

Looking forward to the paddock today...there will be so many people brushing pass each other.

I sat outside Sauber hospitality drinking a coffee sitting next to two Mexican guys, the head of the Mexican Automobile Club and his friend who is investing into a huge vineyard in Argentina..a lovely

conversation ensued, this is the beauty actually of the tiny paddock ...people are forced to talk to each other...lots of beautiful Brazilian girls brushing past too.....it's tough!!!

Somehow it works here.. so nice to meet lots of different South Americans connected with F1A and interested in my artwork...always sparks a conversation. I’m so pleased.

Last night I went uptown to a very middle class area..what a contrast to the vicinity of the circuit..apparently Ayrton Senna purchased a lot a land around the circuit and built housing for the poor, the Senna foundation are still active in this regard...Senna is a God here!

There may be a chance I will meet his sister today,,,,the lady I was with last night Agnes knows her very well and will introduce me.

I took Agnes out to thank her for being so helpful in introducing me to various journalists whom have written articles.

We went firstly to a villa where her friends live,,,,huge walled gardens,,, had to pass through two big gates to enter...lovely house with security and maids...security is important here...big kidnapping risk!

The restaurant was beautiful... traditional Brazilian food...lovely decorative interior very stylish and attracted the beautiful people!....noticed some Ferrari management there too.

Very much looking forward to the circuit now.....

Friday, 25 November 2011

Sao Paulo.....


What a day yesterday in Sao Paulo...more cars than I first thought!  fast cars would be completely wasted in this city..which I guess is why the F1 here is so popular...they can dream of changing into top gear!

I had a driver pick me up from the hotel in the morning..thankfully in a standard Chevrolet car, I had a list of various places..I did slightly feel like I was part of one of these coach tours where the people stay on the coach and are allowed 5 Min's to get off and take pics!
The trouble is here there is nowhere to park so the driver would leave me then circle around the block until I was ready...

I get the impression that this city is on the verge of a mass building program..lots of skyscrapers planned downtown, there are a few in the business area.
A couple of stunning buildings...the Municipal Theatre and the main Cathedral..lovely ..curious railway station, built by the British...looks just like paddington!
One notices a city of contrasts still lots of poverty ..went passed the fevelas, network of shanty towns, very poor areas, some fairly central too not just in the suburbs.
One thing that is very striking here is the amount of Graffiti..not just words but many painted figures on walls and sides of vast buildings.....Now I know where Banksy took his ideas from!
Managed to take lots of pictures...lots of parks too where the middle classes live very close to the trees.
Took some great pics inside the main samba dance school with all the colourful costumes..so pleased I discovered that!

Back at the hotel, I grabbed the newspaper to to a nice article in the sports section..very big headline...Mark Dickens Formula 1 artist. next to a pic of Massa.

Went to the track around 4 to catch the CEO of the circuit..wrote his piece straight away..Mr E had spoken to him earlier, also Mr E's girlfriend,  used to work at this circuit, she is from Sao Paulo.
Didn't really see much of the track, will see more today ....

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Interlagos. Sao Paulo. Brazilians of People!


Arrived yesterday morning from a night flight...it seemed the whole world arrived
at the same time...so busy.
Hour and a half to the hotel..just the sheer weight of traffic...Sao Paulo has a population of
22 million, so there must be around 3 million cars...apparently congestion is such a problem
here they limit the traffic on certain days, you can only use your car 4 days a week depending on your registration plate.

What was noticeable on the journey to the hotel were the masses of hastily built towering apartment blocks all dotted alone the skyline.. a blot on the landscape ..quite unattractive and built to ease the massive homeless problem.

The hotel TransAmerica is quite close to the track, went to the track in the afternoon..what a contrast to Abu Dhabi!

This circuit has been racing for 40 years....well established and well liked..but seems to me that not much has advanced, it has quite an endearing quality...almost like stepping back in time...the team hospitality's in the very narrow paddock are basically huts!

If the paddock gets busy..should be fun and cosy!...it sort of reminds me of a giant scalextrixs circuit.

Just as I arrived  a journalist from the Sao Paulo newspaper...O Estado de Sao Paulo, came up to me in the paddock to ask for an interview and write a piece coming out today.
He knew who I was and liked my work and the whole story of me being here as F1 artist.
Looking forward to seeing that...although in Portugese,,,,
Really nice guy livio, he has been covering F1 for many years..I'm sure he has a few stories to tell!

The track looks similar to Barcelona set in a undulating bowl..good for spectators, not too much advertising in the city ..Didn’t see any banners flying.

Looking forward to walking the track hopefully this eve.
I was speaking to some local journalists who believe a huge makeover is due and will happen with the new money entering the country.

Been warned not to venture out around the city alone..lot of the drivers have bullet proof cars.
I have a driver today taking me around the city....hope he pulls up in an old banger!....not a smart black merc...sore thumbs and sticking out come to mind!!

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Sunday afternoon-Yas Circuit Race

Sunday afternoon..
Never seen such a busy paddock, the Paddock club on the top floor of the Grandstand, covers the whole length.could be the biggest Paddock club,so therefore more people ...all invited corporate guests...and guests of guests!... spilling out into the paddock....there is a pit lane walk 2 hours before the race...one couldn't move, so full..great to see though..F1 has really captured the imagination of people in this region,,,admittedly lots are expats..but more Emirati this year too...there tickets also include the
MCcartney concert after the race.......which was amazing..we had received VIP passes for the front area next to the stage,,,so much energy the legend has...singing a medley of wings and Beatles ...even tried to speak Arabic....he's so good at communicating with the audience....I had to leave just before the end to catch the transfer to the airport.

Just before the race the chairman Khaldoon was free to write his piece...great.in English and in Arabic.
The grid was full...busy and very colourful not least the setting sun behind...seemed to be setting earlier this year perhaps because the race date is different,,,turning back towards the end of the grid it was difficult to see.   There also were masses of security guys on there to...lot's of Royal presence also the King of Spain came to the grid being driven in a golf buggy..apparently this was a first...because he is such a close friend to Mr E..and he looked quite frail...saw him climb out and embrace Alonso...nice to see.   So many footballers too.....a very fat Ronaldo- the first one!....wow that was a surprise..there were a mix of  Man City and QPR players and managers....probably just as well MCcartney wasn't n the grid...it would have been carnage out there!....photographers getting there Nikon knickers in a twist!!!

At the start of the race when Vettel spun off with tyre puncture..I did think....fantastic...a different winner in my painting!!!.....sorry Seb!
Directly after that I noticed I had a missed call from the assistant to James Hogen, CEO of Etihad Airways, informing me that he was in their suite and inviting me to come up......
dashed up to meet him...very happy when it all comes together..
.Also met Mr E in the lift after the race..a short chat about the progress....he said we must get the King of Spain to write...hopefully that will happen soon..even if I have to fly to Spain it would be worth ....he is such a huge F1 fan .so it would be perfect to include his words in the Artwork.
What an amazing day culminating in the great concert too....flight left at 2am....back in studio now to prepare painting number 18!....

Next week Brazil, the last race...can't believe it!...time has literally flown by...spent so much time on airplanes..I could have rigged up an easel in the gally!!

Saturday, 12 November 2011

Sunday morning- Race Day

Another glorious morning in Abu Dhabi...so clear and bright...don't know of any place I've been to where the light-brightness has this level of intensity. 
It's quite early Sunday morning ..the track is fairly quiet, I've been asked to come early to meet Khaldoon ..It's 10 am ..the teams don't arrive until later .perhaps 11,
The race starts at 5pm so later start for all...actually they love it because the could party last night!..lots going on too...big party in the hotel .
Last night I had a meeting with a sub editor of a new sports newspaper in UAE 360 Sport.
He wants to do a big feature when the paintings are completed...so pleased ...have been introduced to many people in PR and media who are very keen on doing features...ratchets up the pressure a little though!...All this has to go through Mr E, he may have other ideas with regard PR etc.
Lots of names in town.should be a fun grid later today...Paul McCartney ..he's a guest of Mclaren..seeing him perform later..Man city manager Mancini..guest of Ferrari..some players too..after all Abu Dhabi own the team!..funny to see all the posters around the city with images of Man City players with written below...Our Team....
The kng of Spain is here too...it would be great to get him to write a piece...he didn't go to Barcelona..always come here apparently...Have to ask Mr E about that.
Very excited about the grid today....two massive grandstands either side...very gladiatorial look....
I sent a text to a friend the other day..saying I was on my way to Ferrari world...then my phone suddenly changed to predictive texting....In the world of Predictive text Ferrari becomes Ferret!..
Ferret world!...great fun!!