Monday, 29 August 2011

Sun.........Was it an IneVETTELble victory!

All done Spa the shouting!....sorry I'm in pun heaven today.....must be something in the water!
Now Vettel is 103 points ahead the deed is almost done, but all very exciting with lots of incident
and overtaking. I hear that some say overtaking is too easy now.....these were the same people
in previous years saying overtaking was too difficult!
Sunday is always a hectic fun day for me, pleasure again walking to the circuit past all the temporary bars..all full at 9am!
Lot's of English ticket touts too, I noticed this at other races also. Such a party atmosphere with tents pitched either side of the road..,.very dubious Euro music belting out from the speakers which in some cases look bigger than the tents!
I received a message from Shell (title sponsor) to come to their hospitality at Eau Rouge, made my way down there pass the steward who had refused me entry earlier...we had a smile....
Firstly I spoke to an assistant of one of the assistants to the CEO Mr Voser...the assistant said he had to speak to the other assistant.....and so it went on!...finally they both agreed without speaking to the CEO, that he was too busy to write his piece!...this has happened a few times..if I speak directly to the CEO's they are more than happy to contribute...but these assistants know better!!!!
Anyway they agreed that he will write his piece this week with a photo and send it to me..all fun and games!..
I then ran back up to the paddock through the GP2 and GP3 area to catch Eddie Mercx...but missed him unfortunately.   Mr E was due to arrive around 12-30, many people thought he would stay in Italy for his daughters wedding.
I wasn't able to see him, hopefully he will watch the Art Event in Monza, which will happen in the paddock...5 drivers making a series of prints with the Pirelli tyres...and making a mess too...will be great..
Watched the race in Sauber Hospitality, they have the most beautiful red mugs for tea with chocolate biscuits...very civilised!..
Queued up with 5 laps to go for the Podium..I must say there was no stand or elevation for the snappers...some brought ladders..and the Lovely Podium spoilt by the Scaffold pole barrier in the front which totally got in the way of the photography looking up at the drivers....not good!...
Also I would love to see different faces on the Podium!.....
Can't wait for Monza.....back to studio now..managed to make a lot of progress on the paintings during the called break..noticed all the drivers sporting their new sun tans..obviously didn't spend their break in the UK!

Sunday, 28 August 2011

Sat- Who put the Spa in Sparring!?

Answer....Hamilton and Maldonado!...certainly the talk of the paddock after their coming together
during quali..the consensus seems to be, Pastor was in the wrong...and he has form!..
Seems to me when something like this happens it's good for the press and teams..
I positioned myself on Eau Rouge firstly at the top then at the bottom almost within touching distance of the cars..fantastic..great shots.
During the final free practice in the morning..... looking towards the other side of the circuit from the paddock, way in the distance, one could see the cars disappearing into the forest, because of the heavy rain the spray from the cars soared high above the an old locomotive steaming through...beautiful scene.
The grandstands were full, also the huge grass banks..they love their racing here, lots had come to see Schumacher..20 years in F1...there was a drinks party in Mercedes Motor Home plus other presentations to the old man!
With every race that passes I know more paddock people..I get stopped and asked how the painting is going 'looking forward to seeing them ,they say'.... no pressure then!
Every time I see Eddie Jordan walk down the paddock....well actually he doesn't walk because he  stops every other pace to chat with someone...he know them all..and their families..probably their dogs too!
Saw him come into the hotel restaurant last night and gave the lady owner a big hug!
My table was positioned next to a table of 12, all invited guests of Red Bull..a real insight as to how their PR machine impressive as their cars!
Then Christian Horner arrived to chat with them for 15 minutes before going to another function, the time was around 9pm...Basically he was telling them what they wanted to hear.
It was great..I had a ringside seat with good food and wine.
Then another special guest arrived...just flown in. The Chief Car Designer for Nissan. As he was introduced..they revealed an exclusive.....not yet to be released until next month.....
A new car designed by this Nissan big collaboration with Christian Horner and Sebastian Vettel... a road car ..on sale to the public soon.
Amazing what one hears sitting eating at a restaurant!.
Looking forward to the race...and the stewards response to pastor and lewis. one of which is Nigel Mansell ..I see him a lot at the races.

Friday, 26 August 2011

Friday- Spa 1st and 2nd free practice

They said expect rain...they didn't mention the wasps!..masses of them, walking towards the circuit this morning I passed a waffle cabin with a lot of waffles laid out on the counter with hundreds of wasps all over them..who on earth would buy one...why they didn't think to cover them up!....

It's been one of those days...a steward refused me entry as a photographer to the inner circuit even though I was wearing my tabard...photographers have either a jacket with F1 photographer or a tabard...the steward said my tabard was for GP2 or GP3...not F1 ..even though F1 was written on it!...he still refused I walked away I took a picture of him to complain to security...he then grabbed my camera wanting my memory card..the security soon marked his card!
Stewards are often told one thing yet do the other!..give them a radio...they change!

Rain and sun had equal billing today..very warn and humid too
Because the hotel is within walking distance I didn't have to leave so early in the shuttle car. Big crowds were walking past the hotel, unlike previous races the spectators were wearing many different team colours, not one team seemed to be favoured.
Lovely meal in the hotel last night, although I couldn't put out  the fire on my creme brulee!...nice to see Mark Webber relaxing eating with his family.
The paddock is so close to the track, great view of the circuit.
Because of the rain, the drivers tended to run  from the motor homes to their garages, frustrating the eager snappers!...
Waited in Pirelli hospitality for a final meeting about the inking of Pirelli tyres in Monza, we agreed to get 5 drivers making Prints, rolling the tyres out on a long sheet of paper.  Very excited about this, BBC will film this and come to my studio also. All the press will be informed.
I have a busy weekend coming, need to find the CEO of Shell to write his piece, and other dignitaries.
looking forward to taking great pictures of the cars speeding up Eau Rouge..and the iconic corner called Bus Stop...not sure why...bit different to my local Bus stop in Kennington!

Thursday, 25 August 2011


Here I am deep in the Belgium countryside in a little hamlet dedicated to Motor racing....this tiny village lives and breathes Motorsport...infact when a tree is felled and cut in half a stick of rock..written inside is Grand prix!....what stories these trees would tell...if only we could communicate with them!..actually some do!
In many ways this is the home of Modern racing..the corners and turns are as famous as the drivers,,,when I first approached the circuit this morning... ..the first thing I noticed was the imposing presence of  eau elegant steep climb with banks of trees to the left, far steeper than one is aware on TV.
My Hotel . Du Roannay. 800 metres from the track, infact its on the old track from 50 years ago.
Such a treat to walk to the circuit with the big crowds.
I spent the morning with a guide showing me around the bigger town of Spa..10km from Francorchamps.  First big building I notice was the big Casino in the town square.  I was told that the worlds first casino originated in Spa 1763. Not on that site but a place not too far, in a now derelict building called Waux Hall...  very interesting studio in London is in Vauxhall..which in the 18th Century displayed similar qualities and layout as Spa.Beautiful buildings...beautiful maidens..lakes..wealth ..and a perhaps the name Vauxhall comes from Spa....Belgium...
Saying all that..couldn't find a spa anywhere!...although rain is expected over weekend so water water everywhere!...
I like the layout of the paddock...split level, higher than the circuit with amazing views of the track and grandstands,, I also like the mix of old and new, there are parts of the track that haven't changed for years giving a great feeling of nostalgia..I'm sure the spectators love that too.
Not sure if I will see Mr Ecclestone ..maybe  on Sunday...he's giving his daughter away in to speak!
Met the promoter Mr Maes..charming man wrote his piece straight away...wants to introduce me to the Belgian legend Jacky Ickx over the weekend to get him to write about his passion for F1..and curiously Eddie Mercx too..who will be presenting Schumacher with a Bicycle on Sunday.
Looking forward to meeting these guys.
Great Meeting with Pirelli and FOM about the Art event in Monza...Can't say which drivers will be involved yet ..
Back to hotel now for some traditional Belgian food.....

Sunday, 14 August 2011

Hungary...what a feast!

Race day Sunday..and Hungary for more!
I knew it would be a challenging day..the two executives of the circuit hadn't written their pieces yet.
I'm getting used to them wanting time to compose their shows that they take the project very seriously ......with the exception of one or two!
After better weather on Saturday and a great qualifying session, Sunday was set up for a thrilling race.
I was able to walk most of the inner circuit in my capacity as a photographer!...I have been watching the snappers..and their particular way of standing enabling them to take judder free shots!...also in order for me to blend in with these has to look the part..which as far as I can make out...not saying hello but just acknowledging with a slight tip of the head!
Cameras these days make life so easy, great quality digital pictures.
Manged to take some great pictures of the cars with the huge yellow backdrop from the ENI advertising boards.
I have been eating some delightful simple Hungarian dishes..but Sat' nights dish was far from delightful!
Previously we had some lovely goose liver. This restaurant listed it in their menu, so myself and one other  from Formula management chose it our horror..the liver was deep fried!..battered liver!..then Lucy Mr Ecclestone's PA  ordered sea bass....deep fried!!.........glad we didn't order dessert!
Sunday's weather not so good..very grey but dry with the threat of rain...seems to have been a pattern of many previous races.
Met up with Tomas CEO, early ..told me to find him during the race in his office ..then he will write and get others, to also...very encouraged by that!..
I was a little late getting onto the grid, taking some good pictures around the circuit..fantastic natural banks looking down over the circuit..perfect for spectators...loads of Russian and Polish flags..all wishing Kubica well..nice to see. Also a lot of Ferrari flags with birthday greetings for Alonso...30 years young.
The stands to the side of the grid were very close...the spectators almost within touching distance..really added to the atmosphere..also the colour ..the title sponsors ENI colour is yellow...grid girls looking very bright in their tasteful outfits...I really do feel privileged to be able to take a spot on every race grid...I really enjoy ..sensing the nervous anticipation of the teams although their professionalism shows through still senses their human side..wanting their man to do well.
Straight from the dash to the CEOs office...he wasn't there..what do I do ..wait or go to the Paddock club to the ENI suite to catch there CEO??...just as this thought passed through my mind Tomas appeared..great!...with his daughter who helped him with the spelling, he wrote his piece in Hungarian then English.  It all then got even better..Tomas took me to see the Chairman of the circuit who wrote his piece...he then led me into an office where the President of Hungary was watching the race, explained to him who I was and what I was doing..he wrote a piece...of course in could be about anything!...could be a shopping list for all I know!
Sitting with The President was 100 m sprinter Asafa Powell..well I couldn't waste the opportunity to ask him to write something...He kindly wrote a lovely piece . His first visit to a GP...and liking the explosive burst of speed from the starting his sport..
Delighted with all that...time was passing too quickly..I then had to run up the the Paddock club ..into the ENI SUITE, to find their CEO. ..knowing that I had to queue up for the podium shots. They were waiting for me up nice!.
..Great  coffee up there too..all beautifully laid out for their clients...strong aroma of flowers and perfume....and money!
Another dash to the Podium....good to see Button on top!...I wasn't quite close enough to feel the spray from the bubbly...hopefully I will at one race.
A great time in Budapest...found some lovely fabric too...great shots..great food..(Almost!)
3 week break now..Factories have to close shop for 2 of these weeks...
Not for me though... happy to spend the time in studio catching up and cracking on with the work...11 paintings on the go now.....
Belgium next...travelling on Eurostar..should be fun.....