Thursday, July 20, 2017

Hammer time! How great are the British Grand Prix and Lewis Hamilton!

Silverstone Circuit Map | by Stephen Hill Photography
You can't really ask for more when it comes to thrills and excitement than the British Grand Prix and Lewis Hamilton on fire (not literally, although Vettel's car nearly was!).

I was fortunate enough ( and have a very kind and generous wife!) to be able to attend this year's British Grand Prix at Silverstone. Our daughter and I are both F1 fans and it's been a life-long dream that one day I would get to see the Grand Prix at one of (if not the) best circuits in the world - Silverstone. As a birthday celebration (I was 60 this year and our daughter 21), we had tickets for the whole weekend (Fri included). It was also great that family live just 1/2 hour away from Silverstone and could put us up. That meant not only did we save money on hotel bills (sorry but I am too old for camping!) but we got to enjoy great hospitality and catch up with family news first-hand. I also got to meet a lovely couple who have an amazing story that involves terrible tragedy, a murder and forgiveness - maybe more on that later.

So, at last, I could get to try out my new Fuji gear at an actual Grand Prix! I could hardly contain myself at the prospect. I had attended the Harewood Speed Hillstart in June and got in some panning practice but those cars were travelling at speeds around 100 mph. At Silverstone, cars would be reaching speeds in excess of 200 mph!

Well, one thing I learnt was that, unlike at Harewood, the views are somewhat restricted. In addition, you are further away from the track and there are lots of other fans trying to get that all-important panning shot, especially of Lewis Hamilton! This meant heads in the way, hands in the way, folk deciding at the key moment to go to the loo and you have to stand up to let them squeeze by. This meant a lot of missed shots, panning shots ruined by a blurry head or hand obscuring the car etc.

Also, deciding on the right shutter speed was a bit of a nightmare at times. From Luffield stand we had a good view of cars coming out of Brooklands. They turn almost 90 degrees left before turning right twice at Luffield and then heading up towards Woodcote. During each phase of this part of the track, they accelerate and brake quite a bit, which requires different shutter speeds. Fortunately, the Fuji X-T2 makes life a lot easier in these circumstances as you can set the lens to A, ISO to A and easily adjust shutter speed whilst keeping your eye on the subject in the viewfinder. You can do this by using the rear control dial (I realised too late!) or, just use your right hand to change the shutter speed whilst seeing the readout in the viewfinder.

So, did I manage to get any decent shots? I think so, and here are some examples:

ISO 800, 1/250 sec, F14, 196mm (294mm equivalent) 

This is one of Stoffel Vandoorne, the young Belgian driver for McLaren Honda F1 Team. He has just come out of Brooklands into Luffield. In the end, he came 11th, having started at 8th, with his fastest lap being 
1:33.464. He managed to be in the top ten for about half the race and only just missed out on the points, behind Felip Massa (Willams Martini Racing).

ISO 800, 1/2000 sec, F4, 70mm (105mm equivalent).

This one was taken from the Internation Pits Straight Stand. You can see that one of the problems when it comes to photos is the safety fence can get in the way. This shot is of Pascal Wehrlein (Sauber F1 team). he started 17th on the grid and finished 17th, with his fastest lap time of 1:33.342.

ISO 800, 1/320 sec, F13, 196mm (294mm equivalent)
Here is Felipe Massa (Wiliams Martini Racing) coming out of Brooklands into Luffield. He managed 10th, an improvement from his grid position at 14th. His fastest lap time was 1:33.562.

ISO 200, 1/750 sec, F5.6, 104.2mm (156mm equivalent)

This is Louis Delétraz, a Swiss F2 racing driver (Racing Engineering) and is the son of former Formula One and Le Mans 24 Hours driver Jean-Denis Délétraz. This was taken during the FIA Formula 2 Championship qualifying session. He came 13th in the final race. His best lap time was 1:45.168.

The final image for this post is one of the Hammer himself, Lewis Hamilton.

ISO 800, 1/320 secs. F11, 196mm (294mm equivalent)

Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes AMG Petronas Motorsport) on his victory lap, waving to his adoring fans (most of those there)! He came 1st (having started 1st on the grid) and his fastest lap was 1:30:621. He closed the gap between himself and Sebastian Vettel (Scuderia Ferrari) to just 1 point in the championship, with half the season remaining.

You can see all the race results on the official F1 site at

Finally, I mentioned earlier about an interesting couple I met whilst at Silverstone. Actually, I met them in Milton Keynes, where we were staying with family whilst attending Silverstone each day. They are called Fred and Fran Gill and they had a son, Robert (adopted) who was murdered, aged just 17. I won't go into all the details here, just to say that in memory of Robert they commissioned a tribute bike (motorcycle) and take it around the country, sharing their story. It's quite a moving story and I highly recommend you read it on and watch a video made by the BBC here.

Finally, just to say I will be posting more photos from Silverstone and not just of racing cars. The Red Arrows were there too! Be sure to come back soon or even sign up for updates. Thanks for reading. If you would like to support this blog you can click on any of the images below to purchase the items on Amazon.

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