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British Grand Prix 2008

7th July 2008

Keeping it real

Well – that was a bit more like it, wasn’t it? An awesome display of raw driving talent on a surface as treacherous as they come, backed up by great team strategy and the passionate support of nearly a hundred thousand fans.

What a difference a few days makes. Before this year’s annual trip to the ex-bomber-base, not everything was quite so rosy in Lewis Hamilton’s garden. Some less than wise press comments earlier in the week, combined with a social calendar that many have wondered at the wisdom of, had meant Lewis came into his ‘home’ grand prix feeling the pressure.

Many within (and without) the sport have commented on the decisions made by Lewis (and his advisors) of late, and speculated about strained and even broken team relationships. Looking ahead, though, it all strikes me as pretty simple: Lewis Hamilton is a racing driver – undoubtedly one of the world’s best – and while he may be impressed by the sudden sycophantic attention of rap stars, beauty queens, girl bands, models and movie stars, it might be a better plan to knuckle down, keep a low profile, and win a championship or three.

One place in front of McLaren’s number one on the Silverstone grid, the reigning world champion seemed tetchy and tight, not usual for this coolest of customers. While working closely with Ferrari for their stunning new magazine, I was shadowing Kimi for the last half-hour before the start for a feature on race preparation.

As a (respectful) photographer, one is acutely aware that there is a barrier that should not be crossed when shooting the drivers on the grid. They’re in the zone, race-face-on, thinking strategy and starts. Enter into this comfort zone and you’re likely to get a firm shove from a mechanic or minder – but not usually the driver.

Down he goes, a crumpled heap of man, flash guns, cables and cameras. One photographer had got too close and Kimi had taken action, firmly shoving the press man away. A tense few seconds ensued as the snapper thought to retaliate, the wound-up Finn turning away and defusing the situation.

One can only wonder at his mood two hours later.

Please now click on the ‘Formula 1’ link at the top of the page to enjoy my pictures from the 2008 British Grand Prix.

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