So, back to Europe for a race weekend – and what a welcome change to be working at a grand prix while not fighting the effects of sleep deprivation. Up and down the paddock the F1 circus’s nomads looked fresh and eager, a contrast from their pallor during the marathon slog of the first four races.
On Friday morning I arrived good and early for a one-on-one shoot in the Red Bull garage with their stunning RB5 race car. The brief was to pay homage to the unquestioned beauty of the best-looking racer of 2009.
Seeing the car on television really doesn’t do justice to the stunning details evident all over – and below - Adrian Newey’s latest charger. As is so often the case in grand prix car design, it’s not what you put in – it’s what you leave out. While certain cars further ‘up’ the pit lane have the silhouette of a 40-ton truck, the RB5 is more akin to the svelte shape of a catwalk-strutting supermodel.
Check out the engine/gearbox/rear suspension packaging and marvel at how it’s all been slotted together with such minute perfection. If that doesn’t impress you, get on yer’ hands and knees – or look at my picture – and inspect the front suspension and under-nose treatment. Its fragile-looking intricacy reminds one of the most delicate stick ‘n’ string World War One dogfighters.
For an F1 snapper to get 15 minutes to shoot a contemporary car is a rare treat. I’m indebted to team manager Jonathan Wheatley and his crew for being so willing to accommodate my presence, especially when they’d all worked 14 hours straight to get the car ready for Friday morning’s practice session.
At the not-so-sharp end of the paddock, while McLaren’s car didn’t really work, their new ‘everyone’s friend’ attitude did!
Since Ron Dennis got the message and exited stage left, a new mood of bonhomie has enveloped the Woking-ites. And what a refreshing change it is.
In just a few races Martin Whitmarsh’s men – and women – have gone from looking like a bunch of bemused Manchester United-supporting oiks when their team is 2-0 down to a cheerful and outgoing band of boys and girls.
Few outside the world of grand prix racing will appreciate just what a monumental shift in the Earth’s axis the simple word ‘Welcome’ on the sliding glass doors of the team’s ‘Brand Centre’ represents.
Once the car does start working, who knows what they’ll do!