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Grand Prix

Formula 1 Testing In Barcelona

Jenson Button leaves the garage in Barcelona, Spain during the 2013 F1 Winter Testing Session (Jamey Price/James Moy Photography)

The following is special guest editorial by Jamey Price, a professional motorsports photo journalist who is passionate about Formula 1. Jamey has photographed Formula 1, IndyCar, NASCAR and other sports car series; for more of his stunning images, visit www.JameyPricePhoto.com.


// Barcelona Testing 1

Having covered one of last year's Barcelona tests and the inaugural Formula One Grand Prix in Austin last February and November, respectively, I was far less intimidated walking into the paddock for the first of the Barcelona pre-season tests at Circuit de Catalunya.

As a photographer, I have grown a lot since last February when I had my first chance to cover F1 testing. I shot almost an entire year of racing during 2012 in five different countries covering eleven different series. I felt far more prepared this year. I knew the track well, and I knew my own capabilities more than I did last year. It was like starting fresh again.

What I love about Formula One is that they will pretty much run the cars in any weather condition. My job as a photographer has been called "cushy" by one particular F1 blog, however, I assure you it is anything but. When everyone else is wrapped up around a heater with dry clothes on, the photographers are out in the cold and freezing rain making interesting images that tell stories. They don't just appear on the web or in print without someone breaking their back to make them. It is grueling hours in sometimes arduous conditions but I wouldn't trade those days for the world.

I am at peace when shooting Formula One cars screaming around the first corner and up the hill, listening to who has their foot planted on the pedal and who is lifting off a little bit. The devil is always in the details, and the details in Formula One are ENDLESS. And that makes our job capturing it all, immensely gratifying and fun.

Enjoy my images from the first Barcelona pre-season test. More to come next week!


Pirelli's Strategy at COTA

Paul Hembery at the 2012 German Grand Prix (© Foto Ercole Colombo)

There have been two changes for the 2012 Formula 1 season which have made it one of the best in many years. Arguably, the most important feature which has given F1 eight different winners and many thrilling races so far this season is the change in tire performance.

Today we sat down with Pirelli Motorsport Director Paul Hembery to learn more about how tires would play a part in the outcome of this weekend’s race.

Earlier this year, molds of Circuit of The Americas were taken and laser scanned by Pirelli engineers.  Once translated into a 3D model, engineers combined energy simulations supplied by teams to produce a performance model to allow testing of tire compounds. Using this data, Pirelli chose the P Zero Silver hard and P Zero White medium compound tires for the USGP; this combination is the same as what was used at Monza and Spa this year.

However nothing beats real world experience, and with feedback from practice and qualifying sessions now in the hands of Pirelli, there have been unexpected obstacles to overcome. The surface of COTA, explained Hembery, is smoother than simulations showed. When compared to circuits like Monza and Spa, both fast and harsh on tires, COTA is less abrasive, making harder tires more difficult to wear-in and reach the target performance zone.

In addition to the texture of the track, the cool fall temperature is also affecting performance, making it more difficult to get heat into the hard and medium compound tires and give them more grip. Each of these factors, Hembery explained, means that Pirelli could have opted for softer tires, making their choice a bit “conservative” for the USGP.

To some extent, this means the hard and medium tires could last the entire race themselves even though both must be used for at least one lap. The grip fall-off, which has played a critical role in effecting the strategy and delivered many exciting races this year, will not be a factor tomorrow and should be very predictable now that both compounds have been tested on track.

The fan favorite feature of COTA, Turn 1, might put significant vertical load on the tires, but Hembery assured that the tire structure is significantly over-engineered, and there is no risk of failures from the high loads going up into Turn 1.

The 2012 season has been incredibly exciting and Pirelli has played a key part in delivering the on-track race action. Now that the season is winding down, the development of the 2013 tire is underway. Pirelli's approach to the significant challenge of delivering a tire that improves race action has proven to be wildly successful. For 2013, Hembery explained, expect more.  The tires will be more aggressive and the variations between compounds will ensure race action is even more dynamic.

Qualifying Concludes at Circuit of The Americas

Sebastian Vettel takes pole position at the 2012 USGP

// Qualifying Concludes at Circuit of The Americas

A great qualifying session today at Circuit of The Americas in Austin.  Hamilton and Vettel fought to the end as the Red Bull car edged out the McLaren with just over one tenth of a second between the two.

A strong penultimate qualifying lap from Vettel appeared to be enough to secure him the position. Shortly after Vettel’s fast lap, Hamilton completed his with just seconds to go in the final session.  Managing only P3, Hamilton stayed out for another attempt to take pole position.

Behind the Scenes at Marussia

A Marussia F1 steering wheel

// Behind the Scenes at Marussia

Thursday morning we were invited to for a tour of the Marussia garage, and without hesitation we responded yes, looking forward to seeing the first behind the scenes look at the grand prix team.

Our guide for the morning was Mark Scudamore, a Marussia team member who was enthusiastic about showing us the inner workings of the team. We spoke first outside the garage, discussing the challenges of moving the team to Austin from Abu Dhabi, and the rapid learning curve of the new facility.

Shooting the USGP - Thursday

Fernando Alonso at the 2012 USGP in Austin

Some kids grow up wanting to be astronauts, pilots, doctors, firemen. When I was old enough to start caring about F1, I just knew I had to be involved with it. Somehow, someway. Then photography fell into my lap and I knew that was it. 

So bright and early this morning, with a big smile on my face, I held up my F1 media credential to the infamous F1 turn style computer and listened to it chime "ding don ding." And for the first time in my career, I walked into paddock in Austin for a Formula One race. Kind of hard to put those emotions into words.