Friday Free Practice

It was early to rise and a cold outdoor shower (more on this later) before we headed downtown to catch the Friday morning shuttle. The driver made a wrong turn making us late to the circuit for the 9:00 am start of the first practice session. A bus full of not very impressed passengers. As we piled out of the bus we realized it had to be another kilometer walk just to enter the grounds and arriving at the north,  to reach our seats, we’d need to cross to the other side of the 5.5km circuit. We definitely showed our shoes how to walk that weekend.

Making our way up the hill the desert sun glistened off the newly surfaced circuit and the wail of a 750 horsepower naturally aspirated V8 screaming up to 19,000 RPM sent a chill down my spine. It was Kamui Kobayashi in the Sauber C31 and you could tell by the exhaust note. Actually I could tell because the F1 live timing app on my smartphone told me that Kamui was currently the only car out on track to perform an installation lap.

But we picked up our Fanvision and made it in time to sit down and enjoy some good morning running.

Attending my first Grand Prix. The first time to hear, see, smell the Formula 1 cars. Also the first chance to photograph such a thing. The secret to my success this weekend is the trusty Carl Zeiss Jena 70-210mm f/4.5-5.6 MACRO. I don’t know why anyone bothers with auto-focus lenses. It seemed trivially easy to manually focus on racing cars. /s

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Michael Schumacher, 7-time world champion and the first man to pass my capture.

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This was part of our view looking out from the bleachers.

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Button winds his way up the hill in the silver McLaren.

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Fernando Alonso in the Ferrari. There’s a challenge to find much variety shooting from one place. Cars are only out on track for a limited time so it’s not great to waste time walking the huge distances around the track.

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Sebastian Vettel brings the Red Bull through the S curves and up the hill.

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Paul di Resta exiting turn 6.

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Kamui following a lockup in to turn 8, follows Grosjean up the hill.

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Mark Webber.

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Nico Rosberg.

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Vitaly Petrov.

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The board after 90 minutes of free practice.

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Next the Historic Grand Prix cars took to the track. We walked over to turn 1 to check out the view from the top of the pit straight.

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Ma Qinghua getting a morning practice session in the HRT.

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Vettel through turn 6.

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Lewis Hamilton.

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Fernando Alonso.

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Looking across the circuit we could see the back straight from our seats.

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Behind the bleachers. Getting an idea how many people were at the track just for Friday practice.DSC_0850

Some various views follow.

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It was time to leave the circuit for today.

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The shuttle dropping us off back downtown. Getting a look at the Texas State Capitol.

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Ending up at the karaoke party with Will Buxton. I’d say that was a memorable night, but I’m not sure it was for many people.

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Finding other things.

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