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Malaysian Grand Prix 2008

27th March 2008

Signs of a new era?

There’s been a change in Formula 1 this year, and it’s a welcome one at that.

Upon receiving a recent commission intended to highlight the diverse cultures, colours and creeds of the merry band who constitute F1s traveling circus, I set about the task of arranging the various people to be photographed and the times that they’d be made available.

Ideally, each team was to provide five to 10 subjects to have their portrait taken, a task needing no more than 30 seconds per person. Now that may sound like a breeze to most, but in reality (in F1) such requests often result in seemingly endless negotiations with the various teams’ press officers. Well, it used to!

Apart from a pre-shoot hiccup at McLaren, quickly ironed out by their new main man in media relations, Matt Bishop, the job went more smoothly than I’d ever have imagined. Stand out co-operation was provided by such as Toyota’s Thomas Villette, Super Aguri’s Emma Buxton and Williams’s Liam Clogger; but the real star was Renault’s no-nonsense woman-in-charge, Patrizia Spinelli.

I pitched up at the teams hospitality ‘tent’ and immediately Patrizia sprang into action. “Come with me, Darren, into the garage and we’ll choose the most suitable guys,” she suggested, encouragingly. “Oh, and would you like a driver?” Four minutes later I’d photographed Patrizia and eight more of her team’s best faces, including the two-times world champion.

The positivity shown by so many of the teams seems to indicate a more co-operative mood and ‘can-do’ attitude within the sport this year. Indeed, at Red Bull – where David Coulthard was a willing subject – I was advised that it’d be best to shoot both drivers, in case the other one felt ‘left out’. Bless!

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