Grand Prix – Montreal 2016

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Sunday mornings on TSN were always devoted to Formula 1 racing. As a young sports fan, Michael Schumacher, David Coulthard, Rubens Barrichello, and of course Jacques Villeneuve were among the few drivers that first drew me into auto racing. Now, to be totally honest, my interest dropped off for about 15 years. However, when I had the opportunity to take on the assignment of photographing the Montreal Grand Prix, I started watching races again.

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One of the biggest challenges for my first race shoot was that I didn’t have any experience shooting auto races whatsoever. For guidance, I turned to my friends that had had the pleasure of covering F1 races in Canada and abroad. Everyone said the same things: “It’s fucking loud”, “Watch your feet”, and “They move really fast”. It was loud but not as loud as I had thought it would be. I wore ear plugs when I was in Pit Lane, but other than that, I actually enjoyed the sounds of the engines. While I was in the Pit Lane, I had a few close calls. I had been using a Canon 11-24 F/4 lens and felt I needed to be closer than a photographer normally would be due to the short focal length. A fellow photographer pulled me back just in time as a car skidded out of the pits.

British racing driver Lewis Hamilton of team Mercedes AMG makes his way through the track during the qualifying session for the Canadian Formula 1 Grand Prix at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Montreal, on June 11, 2016.

British racing driver Lewis Hamilton of team Mercedes AMG makes his way through the track during the qualifying session for the Canadian Formula 1 Grand Prix at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Montreal, on June 11, 2016.

Because the sport is so much about pageantry, the whole production of an F1 race is simply beautiful to photograph. A lot of money is spent by each team. Each car is worth $3 million, each driver is paid tens of millions and they all travel the world week to week. It was very impressive and exciting to have that front row seat. One of the coolest things I saw while walking the track was all the shipping containers the teams transport from race to race. There were literally rows of these containers waiting to be repacked and shipped off to the next location.

Indonesian racing driver Rio Haryanto (88) of team Manor makes his way through the track during an afternoon practice session for the Canadian Formula 1 Grand Prix at the Gilles-Villeneuve track in Montreal, on June 10, 2016.

Indonesian racing driver Rio Haryanto (88) of team Manor makes his way through the track during an afternoon practice session for the Canadian Formula 1 Grand Prix at the Gilles-Villeneuve track in Montreal, on June 10, 2016.

I looked at a lot of other racing photography prior to arriving in Montreal. There are around 15-20 photographers that travel for every race, some of which have been shooting solely F1 for 10-15 years straight. Vladimir Rys, Mark Thompson, and Clive Mason are a few absolutely brilliant F1 photographers I started to watch as I prepared for my first race. What I noticed right away was that I would need to work on my “panning photos”. For those that aren’t familiar with this term, it means to slow the shutter speed down and track the object moving in front of you so that it’s in focus but the background is blurred.

British racing driver Jenson Button of team McLaren Honda passes the grandstands during an afternoon practice session for the Canadian Formula 1 Grand Prix at the Gilles-Villeneuve track in Montreal, on June 10, 2016.

British racing driver Jenson Button of team McLaren Honda passes the grandstands during an afternoon practice session for the Canadian Formula 1 Grand Prix at the Gilles-Villeneuve track in Montreal, on June 10, 2016.

Friday and Saturday were spent getting to know the track. I took the time to walk most of the take, looking for fun spots that I knew I wouldn’t be able to get to on Sunday, due to time constraints. It’s easy to forget how big an F1 track really is till you walk 4.3 kilometers with an extra 20 pounds of gear on your back ( see gear list photo at bottom of post).

British racing driver Jenson Button of team McLaren Honda makes his way through the track during an afternoon practice session for the Canadian Formula 1 Grand Prix at the Gilles-Villeneuve track in Montreal, on June 10, 2016.

British racing driver Jenson Button of team McLaren Honda makes his way through the track during an afternoon practice session for the Canadian Formula 1 Grand Prix at the Gilles-Villeneuve track in Montreal, on June 10, 2016.

The race went by quickly. The Gilles Villeneuve Circuit is one of speed so it’s not surprising the race took only about an hour and a half. Unlike Friday and Saturday, I couldn’t really get deep into the track. It takes too much time and I needed to be close to pit lane for when the race ended. I was set up at the first turn or the first few laps. Lots of veteran photographers had mentioned that this was where a crash can happen, and a minor incident did in fact happen! Nico Rosberg had to go wide to miss contact with other drivers. 70 laps later the race was done and my cherry was popped.

Finnish racing driver Kimi Raikkonen of Ferrari takes a sharp turn during the Canadian Formula 1 Grand Prix at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Montreal, on June 12, 2016.

Finnish racing driver Kimi Raikkonen of Ferrari takes a sharp turn during the Canadian Formula 1 Grand Prix at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Montreal, on June 12, 2016.

German racing driver Nico Rosberg (middle) of team Mercedes AMG struggles through turn 2 during the Canadian Formula 1 Grand Prix at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Montreal, on June 12, 2016.

German racing driver Nico Rosberg (middle) of team Mercedes AMG struggles through turn 2 during the Canadian Formula 1 Grand Prix at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Montreal, on June 12, 2016.

Drivers make their way through the first turn during the Canadian Formula 1 Grand Prix at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Montreal, on June 12, 2016.

Drivers make their way through the first turn during the Canadian Formula 1 Grand Prix at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Montreal, on June 12, 2016.

British racing driver Lewis Hamilton of team Mercedes AMG celebrates with his team after winning the Canadian Formula 1 Grand Prix at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Montreal, on June 12, 2016.

British racing driver Lewis Hamilton of team Mercedes AMG celebrates with his team after winning the Canadian Formula 1 Grand Prix at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Montreal, on June 12, 2016.

The back left tire of german racing driver Sebastian Vettel's Ferrari is seen after the Canadian Formula 1 Grand Prix at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Montreal, on June 12, 2016.

The back left tire of german racing driver Sebastian Vettel’s Ferrari is seen after the Canadian Formula 1 Grand Prix at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Montreal, on June 12, 2016.

Complete List: Canon 580 EX, noise cancelling ear plugs, canon rain covers, Manfrotto monopod, Lacie thunderbold drive, Canon 70-200mm f/2.8 II, Canon 300mm f/2.8, Canon 600mm f/4 II, Canon 135mm f/2, Sigma 24-35mm f/2, Canon 50mm f1.2, Canon 5D Mark III, Canon 1D X

Complete List: Canon 580 EX, noise cancelling ear plugs, canon rain covers, Manfrotto monopod, Lacie thunderbold drive, Canon 70-200mm f/2.8 II, Canon 300mm f/2.8, Canon 600mm f/4 II, Canon 135mm f/2, Sigma 24-35mm f/2, Canon 50mm f1.2, Canon 5D Mark III, Canon 1D X

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  • Barry Gray
    Reply

    Great F1 photos….thanks for sharing.

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