It was a very busy four days at the Abu Dhabi 2016 F1 Grand Prix. Anticipation was in the air. The only question that matters: would Lewis Hamilton win another Abu Dhabi race and take the world title?
With Nico Rosberg only a few points in front, Hamilton needed Rosberg to finish fourth, or a few other combinations of events, for Hamilton to take the world title.
My experience started on Thursday 24th November. I was somewhat nervous as I had never done an F1 race before so it was all new to me. I went to the accreditation reception to receive my media pass and was guided to the media shuttle bus which took me to the International Media Centre.
The security was tight as you could imagine. When I swiped my pass, my photo came on a screen and the turnstile let me in. Once I was in, WOW, the view that met me was breathtaking. The view of the paddock was straight ahead of me and to my left was a large building where all the press based themselves for the duration of the race.
On my arrival at the International Media Centre, I was met by some friendly staff at the reception desk who gave me a race program and put stickers on my cameras. I was warned not to shoot any videos, only photos, or I would be excluded from the whole event. I was also given a desk, a locker and meal vouchers.
At this point I was beginning to feel like was in the big league but I quickly found what being in the media as a photographer was really like and even though most of the guys were great but there was one or two who were true “paps.”
My mission for Thursday was to find Darren Heath who is one of the best F1 photographers around. He was easy to find and I must say he is also a very nice guy. He welcomed me and gave me a few tips on getting around the circuit and suchlike. I had some lunch before taking a walk to find my way around as it was such a huge place.
At 3pm there was a press call in the conference room so I thought I would get there early to secure a place, which I did: right on the back wall by the TV camera. I had a clear view of the stage. The first five drivers came out were Felipe Massa Williams Racing, Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull Racing, Jenson Button McLaren Honda Team, Kimi Raikkonen Scuderia Ferrari and Max Verstappen Red Bull Racing.
The press call for these guys lasted thirty or forty minutes, and then came Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg for Mercedes AMG Petronas team. They were both asked to stand in front of the cameras and shake hands for the purpose of the photographers. Neither of them moved nor did they say anything and there was a quiet giggle amongst the press.
Lewis Hamilton was more interested in his iPhone than doing any press conference and came over a little cocksure but I suppose you couldn’t get where he is without being sure of yourself. But the press are there not just for the drivers or their publications but for the F1 fans around the world and this is what Hamilton should realise.
There was certainly tension between Hamilton and Rosberg. Rosberg said he would do what it takes to win (within the rules, of course).
So my first day at the Abu Dhabi F1 Grand Prix started well and i was excited for day two.
By: Dave Taylor