Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Final Race Day....

A great finale!...The Sun shone throughout with just a tiny smattering of rain...him upstairs must
drink Red Bull!
Such a unique atmosphere arriving to the track...chaos..hardly any security, although I was
asked to open my briefcase which included two daily newspapers for a friend at the track...
was told I couldn't bring newspapers or magazines into the circuit!...local police law I was told....in case I start a fire!...crazy....just in front were people selling programs...guess what they are made from!
All part of eccentric...curious circuit that is Interlagos.

10am and the grandstands were filling fast, I went to the FOM office in the paddock and was told I could go up in a helicopter at 12-30 to take pictures of the track....fantastic!
I was so pleased..really wanted to at some point this season and thought my chance had gone.
15 Min's up there circling the circuit and vicinity...the track looked so tiny...toy town...what a treat.
I was able to see the and appreciate the sheer size of the city and all the suburbs..
Still on a high after that I ran to the pitlane to wait for the grid walk...no grid girls, not sure why.
I arrived very early just as the teams were pushing and wheeling their gear up the incline to the starting positions...quite an incline too.
The crowd by this time were very excitable ..singing and clapping waiting for the Brazilian drivers especially Bruno Senna.
Earlier I was introduced to Viviane Senna (Ayrton's sister, and Bianca Senna her daughter and Bruno's sister).   So lovely to meet them, they are Royalty in Brazil..worshipped. Bianco wanted to chat after the race , to look for her.
The grid swelled very quickly, so aware that this was my last grid..so I wanted to absorb the wonderful atmosphere..It seemed to pass very quickly...I stayed around the senna car...lots of attention as he waved to his adoring fans..good to see.
I was told to go to the promoters office with 5 laps remaining to meet the City Mayor, State Governor and CEO of sponsor Petrobas.
Knowing that it would be very tight ..not much time to get to the Podium with the snappers, I arrived to the office with 7 laps to go.
Met Tommas the promoter, he explained to the dignitaries and they duly penned their piece...the track officials were getting nervous waiting for them to finish because they were presenting the trophies...........the last lap they finished!...I knew it would be too late for me to make the podium...I rushed to he gate but the photographers were already in position...gate closed!
The only podium I missed...spectacular one too with ticker tape raining down on the drivers.
It was more important to get the writings, I spoke to Keith Sutton- photographer if he would kindly send me some podium pics.

Straight after I went to the Lotus Renault garage to find Bianca Senna, waited a little while and spoke again with Viviane Senna, and said that I would love to give a painting to the Senna Foundation for then to Auction. Said the same to Bianca, she was delighted.

The Paddock was full  busy with goodbyes from various team members...although the break is so short these days...next race is mid march..but all will meet during testing early Feb.
I had a transfer to the hotel with some other people , some beers at the hotel then to the airport...all very odd
King is dead long live the king!!
It seems that the new season has already started in people minds....bizarre!
Saw Mark Webber queueing in front of me for boarding...no after race end of season drinks for him...it seemed people just wanted to head home.

So there we are.....One full season on the F1 merry-go-round!.....quite a ride it was..
So many great memories to reflect upon..the next 6 weeks I will be locked in my studio working on the paintings..its good that I will have a long run and momentum working  but will feel odd not readying myself for another race as I have done 18 times since the end of March!

I will post one more time with my considered reflections of the year...
I will post the final paintings too....watch this space!

There are more blogs to follow next year when the box set of prints taken from the paintings will be distributed by myself......

Sunday, 27 November 2011

Sao Paulo Samba Sunday!

Great anticipation...waiting to go to the track for the last time this year!....should be a special day.

Rain is expected..although looking out the window ...doesn't seem true.

You know we have only 5 winners this year from 18 races ..all 5 are world champions.....if one of the 5

wins today that would be a first!

I'd love to see a different winner saying that....yesterday Bruno Senna had the widest biggest smile in the paddock

after quali...think he finished 7th...Hamilton looked very downbeat!...they walked past each other.....

complete contrast!

I was able to walk over to the far side of the circuit during quali..next to a big grandstand that was full and rocking!....it's the closest to a football crowd I've seen all year....so many people wearing special yellow vests commemorating the tracks 40th year...very colourful and very Brazilian!

this race is a snappers dream!

The paddock was completely full..nightmare for the team engineers trying to move gear across the paddock...I really sense this end of term feeling ...it's as if the pressure has lifted temporarily and the teams can look forward to the break...very short break!

Today will be very busy...have to run the  promoters office during the race to catch the City Mayor and local governor and Sponsor CEO...all before I dash to the podium....to photograph Senna with the winners trophy aloft!!!...........

Lot's of drinking in the bar last night....there was a farewell party for Patrick Head from Williams,

He's retiring.
The whiskey measures in the bar...huge! ...not the little thimble size shots in the UK....

Saturday, 26 November 2011

Interlagos.....race weekend..Samba Sunshine!


Friday was such a full day...very warm too...good to know the Brazilian weather forecasters

are as bad as the Brits equivalent!...rain was expected......brilliant sunshine!

I saw the first signs of the Samba party that awaits!... first practise the grandstands were a third full but very vocal!...singing and dancing..can't wait to see the full grandstands, there are so many dotted around the track, great viewing for all, in each grandstand they can see pretty much the whole circuit....very different sound here too because the track is set in this bowl..different acoustics.

I was positioned on the first corner as the cars exit the pits..so close to the cars..I will always remember in future the very distinctive sweet smell of the burning fuel as the cars whizz pass...

It's certainly a great circuit ...the infrastructure is very dated...nevertheless very endearing...funny to

see the FOM offices in the paddock.....converted toilets!.....glamorous F1!

Looking forward to the paddock today...there will be so many people brushing pass each other.

I sat outside Sauber hospitality drinking a coffee sitting next to two Mexican guys, the head of the Mexican Automobile Club and his friend who is investing into a huge vineyard in Argentina..a lovely

conversation ensued, this is the beauty actually of the tiny paddock ...people are forced to talk to each other...lots of beautiful Brazilian girls brushing past too.....it's tough!!!

Somehow it works here.. so nice to meet lots of different South Americans connected with F1A and interested in my artwork...always sparks a conversation. I’m so pleased.

Last night I went uptown to a very middle class area..what a contrast to the vicinity of the circuit..apparently Ayrton Senna purchased a lot a land around the circuit and built housing for the poor, the Senna foundation are still active in this regard...Senna is a God here!

There may be a chance I will meet his sister today,,,,the lady I was with last night Agnes knows her very well and will introduce me.

I took Agnes out to thank her for being so helpful in introducing me to various journalists whom have written articles.

We went firstly to a villa where her friends live,,,,huge walled gardens,,, had to pass through two big gates to enter...lovely house with security and maids...security is important here...big kidnapping risk!

The restaurant was beautiful... traditional Brazilian food...lovely decorative interior very stylish and attracted the beautiful people!....noticed some Ferrari management there too.

Very much looking forward to the circuit now.....

Friday, 25 November 2011

Sao Paulo.....


What a day yesterday in Sao Paulo...more cars than I first thought!  fast cars would be completely wasted in this city..which I guess is why the F1 here is so popular...they can dream of changing into top gear!

I had a driver pick me up from the hotel in the morning..thankfully in a standard Chevrolet car, I had a list of various places..I did slightly feel like I was part of one of these coach tours where the people stay on the coach and are allowed 5 Min's to get off and take pics!
The trouble is here there is nowhere to park so the driver would leave me then circle around the block until I was ready...

I get the impression that this city is on the verge of a mass building program..lots of skyscrapers planned downtown, there are a few in the business area.
A couple of stunning buildings...the Municipal Theatre and the main Cathedral..lovely ..curious railway station, built by the British...looks just like paddington!
One notices a city of contrasts still lots of poverty ..went passed the fevelas, network of shanty towns, very poor areas, some fairly central too not just in the suburbs.
One thing that is very striking here is the amount of Graffiti..not just words but many painted figures on walls and sides of vast buildings.....Now I know where Banksy took his ideas from!
Managed to take lots of pictures...lots of parks too where the middle classes live very close to the trees.
Took some great pics inside the main samba dance school with all the colourful costumes..so pleased I discovered that!

Back at the hotel, I grabbed the newspaper to to a nice article in the sports section..very big headline...Mark Dickens Formula 1 artist. next to a pic of Massa.

Went to the track around 4 to catch the CEO of the circuit..wrote his piece straight away..Mr E had spoken to him earlier, also Mr E's girlfriend,  used to work at this circuit, she is from Sao Paulo.
Didn't really see much of the track, will see more today ....

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Interlagos. Sao Paulo. Brazilians of People!


Arrived yesterday morning from a night flight...it seemed the whole world arrived
at the same time...so busy.
Hour and a half to the hotel..just the sheer weight of traffic...Sao Paulo has a population of
22 million, so there must be around 3 million cars...apparently congestion is such a problem
here they limit the traffic on certain days, you can only use your car 4 days a week depending on your registration plate.

What was noticeable on the journey to the hotel were the masses of hastily built towering apartment blocks all dotted alone the skyline.. a blot on the landscape ..quite unattractive and built to ease the massive homeless problem.

The hotel TransAmerica is quite close to the track, went to the track in the afternoon..what a contrast to Abu Dhabi!

This circuit has been racing for 40 years....well established and well liked..but seems to me that not much has advanced, it has quite an endearing quality...almost like stepping back in time...the team hospitality's in the very narrow paddock are basically huts!

If the paddock gets busy..should be fun and cosy!...it sort of reminds me of a giant scalextrixs circuit.

Just as I arrived  a journalist from the Sao Paulo newspaper...O Estado de Sao Paulo, came up to me in the paddock to ask for an interview and write a piece coming out today.
He knew who I was and liked my work and the whole story of me being here as F1 artist.
Looking forward to seeing that...although in Portugese,,,,
Really nice guy livio, he has been covering F1 for many years..I'm sure he has a few stories to tell!

The track looks similar to Barcelona set in a undulating bowl..good for spectators, not too much advertising in the city ..Didn’t see any banners flying.

Looking forward to walking the track hopefully this eve.
I was speaking to some local journalists who believe a huge makeover is due and will happen with the new money entering the country.

Been warned not to venture out around the city alone..lot of the drivers have bullet proof cars.
I have a driver today taking me around the city....hope he pulls up in an old banger!....not a smart black merc...sore thumbs and sticking out come to mind!!

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Sunday afternoon-Yas Circuit Race

Sunday afternoon..
Never seen such a busy paddock, the Paddock club on the top floor of the Grandstand, covers the whole length.could be the biggest Paddock club,so therefore more people ...all invited corporate guests...and guests of guests!... spilling out into the paddock....there is a pit lane walk 2 hours before the race...one couldn't move, so full..great to see though..F1 has really captured the imagination of people in this region,,,admittedly lots are expats..but more Emirati this year too...there tickets also include the
MCcartney concert after the race.......which was amazing..we had received VIP passes for the front area next to the stage,,,so much energy the legend has...singing a medley of wings and Beatles ...even tried to speak Arabic....he's so good at communicating with the audience....I had to leave just before the end to catch the transfer to the airport.

Just before the race the chairman Khaldoon was free to write his piece...great.in English and in Arabic.
The grid was full...busy and very colourful not least the setting sun behind...seemed to be setting earlier this year perhaps because the race date is different,,,turning back towards the end of the grid it was difficult to see.   There also were masses of security guys on there to...lot's of Royal presence also the King of Spain came to the grid being driven in a golf buggy..apparently this was a first...because he is such a close friend to Mr E..and he looked quite frail...saw him climb out and embrace Alonso...nice to see.   So many footballers too.....a very fat Ronaldo- the first one!....wow that was a surprise..there were a mix of  Man City and QPR players and managers....probably just as well MCcartney wasn't n the grid...it would have been carnage out there!....photographers getting there Nikon knickers in a twist!!!

At the start of the race when Vettel spun off with tyre puncture..I did think....fantastic...a different winner in my painting!!!.....sorry Seb!
Directly after that I noticed I had a missed call from the assistant to James Hogen, CEO of Etihad Airways, informing me that he was in their suite and inviting me to come up......
dashed up to meet him...very happy when it all comes together..
.Also met Mr E in the lift after the race..a short chat about the progress....he said we must get the King of Spain to write...hopefully that will happen soon..even if I have to fly to Spain it would be worth ....he is such a huge F1 fan .so it would be perfect to include his words in the Artwork.
What an amazing day culminating in the great concert too....flight left at 2am....back in studio now to prepare painting number 18!....

Next week Brazil, the last race...can't believe it!...time has literally flown by...spent so much time on airplanes..I could have rigged up an easel in the gally!!

Saturday, 12 November 2011

Sunday morning- Race Day

Another glorious morning in Abu Dhabi...so clear and bright...don't know of any place I've been to where the light-brightness has this level of intensity. 
It's quite early Sunday morning ..the track is fairly quiet, I've been asked to come early to meet Khaldoon ..It's 10 am ..the teams don't arrive until later .perhaps 11,
The race starts at 5pm so later start for all...actually they love it because the could party last night!..lots going on too...big party in the hotel .
Last night I had a meeting with a sub editor of a new sports newspaper in UAE 360 Sport.
He wants to do a big feature when the paintings are completed...so pleased ...have been introduced to many people in PR and media who are very keen on doing features...ratchets up the pressure a little though!...All this has to go through Mr E, he may have other ideas with regard PR etc.
Lots of names in town.should be a fun grid later today...Paul McCartney ..he's a guest of Mclaren..seeing him perform later..Man city manager Mancini..guest of Ferrari..some players too..after all Abu Dhabi own the team!..funny to see all the posters around the city with images of Man City players with written below...Our Team....
The kng of Spain is here too...it would be great to get him to write a piece...he didn't go to Barcelona..always come here apparently...Have to ask Mr E about that.
Very excited about the grid today....two massive grandstands either side...very gladiatorial look....
I sent a text to a friend the other day..saying I was on my way to Ferrari world...then my phone suddenly changed to predictive texting....In the world of Predictive text Ferrari becomes Ferret!..
Ferret world!...great fun!!

Abu Dhabi- Yas Marina Circuit

The Yas Marina becomes the Yes Marina!..
It's an incredible circuit, only in it's 3rd year, but already so well established and organised.
The stands are imposing but not ugly, there are laced with decorative arabic motifs...love this attention to detail, also there are so many volunteers wearing t-shirts saying Can I Help You.
Even shuttle buses to take you 50 yards if you so disire!
One thing I have noticed here...nobody likes to walk!..never seen so many 4x4 cars.
From the minute I arrived on Wednesday evening there has been so much do and see....some races I seem to have more time..
The Hotel -Radisson Blu is a stones throw away..lovely little walk to the track, which I know well.
This is were the Journey started, I was commissioned by Abu Dhabi Motorsports Management to
make 10 paintings to commemorate the opening of the Circuit in 2009
Made many trips here....really enjoy coming back here.
Went staight to the Mangement offices to meet the CEO Richard Cregan to arrange a time for him to write his piece, which he did next to the paintings of mine outside his office...good to see the work again.....nothing has fallen off!...
Also set the ball rolling to get the Chairman of the Circuit , Khaldoon Al Mubarak, and Chairman of Executive affairs, also Chairman of Man City!..richest football club in the world.
Fortunately I saw him just climbing into a golf buggy..and introduced myself..I'd met him before, he knows my work...I explained the project briefly...he said he would be delighted to write.
He gave me his email, which goes directly to his assistant...It's sat lunchtime..I'm hoping  to see Khaldoon soon....too many O's!
The paddock is so attractive here.. beautiful Team Hospitalities with the Marina behind full of big meaty power boats... although not too many elegant Sailing boats...all infront of the impressive Yas Hotel...a section of the track passes through the hotel...imagine waking up late ...pulling the cirtains back and seeing Hamilton whizzing pass your window!
I felt I had so much to photograph yesterday at the track..didn't want to miss any great shots...this was beore going into Abu Dhabi to take pics.
A journalist and PR  friend Agnes  had put me in touch with a chief reporter for Gulf news. A daily paper. he was keen to do an interview for the paper.
It came out this morning.,. very pleased!
I went to the amazing Sheikh Zayed Mosque....beauty in abundance....just takes my breath away!...
The Floral marble decorations and Iznik turkish designs are stunning...inside huge jewel laden , multi-coloured Chandaliers, and the  biggest hand woven carpet in the world.
Stayed there for a while, then taxi back to track for lunch...walked all over the circuit grounds..really good fans area..lots of events...including this 10 foot robot that fires water through its eyes.
In the eve we went to Ferrari world...huge themed amusement area under one roof..with the worlds fastest roller coaster....not been on it yet!..so many differet rides...strangely quiet for the race week.
Full day!...Woke up early , caught a taxi into the City about 20 mins away..cheap taxis here...state controlled.
I already have many pics taken from my previous commission, but even with the space of one year, so many tall buildings have shot up!..amazing to see.
Very hot day..compared to mid summer it's positively mild for the Emiraties!  28 degrees.
The Ceo wrote a great piece...very happy about about that...and he is loking forward to the box set of prints from the paintings..already has a space reserved for them.
The teams and managent are so delighted with the hospitality and sevices here.. there is still a great buzz even thought the championship has been won.  The practice sessions were great, especially the secong practice starting at five here, when the race starts on sunday.
The sun just starts to set..one can't fail to take a decent spectacular picture..infact I was darting all over desperate to take more pics with the backdrop of the sun setting behind the Yas hotel with the cars on the track.....you see this is when my little camera can be benefit..no heavy equipment on my shoulders.

A great day at the circuit ...finished late around 8 then went to the hotel..cold wine..Britney Spears was playing at the track...not my cup of Arabic tea!...After the concert I did go the The Amber lounge, an exclusive F1 club/ party set up by Edie Irvine's sister, Sonja. Very popular and people pay thousands for a table there!....expensive disco!!
...given free tickets...champagne until 2 in morning. Sophie Ellis Baxter was performing under the big tent.....I used to fancy her mother!!..told the girls we were with..... all twenty something..had no idea who her mother was....
Back to the track now...

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Race weekend.....A Delhi-visual treat!


A great sense of anticipation in the paddock ....don't think there were many people who felt that the track was a disappointment, quite the opposite...fantastic challenge for the teams and drivers.

I got to the track a little later to photograph the beautiful Elephants positioned outside the hotel...I heard that talk was given about incorporating some elephants during the opening ceremony....but it was felt that because the grid surface was new, damage would be caused!...not least the massive droppings!. In this instance one would know which the dirty side of the track was!!

The Metallica concert didn't happen due to a riot!..I was all ready to go with some of the guys and be a guest at the backstage party...but not to be...not sure the exact reason but I believe there were some problems with the band and promoters, so they decided to postpone the concert until the following day, announced this to the audience who were not amused...some had travelled vast distances and paid a lot of Rupees...that was when they wrecked the stage!...can’t imaging Indians doing this, seem very docile.

Apparently the stage was too damaged for the following night’s concert!....disaster.....

Not good PR for F1 Rocks .

The temperature was getting hotter over 30 degrees and always very hazy in the mornings, not sure if it's pollution or just this time of the year, but thankfully most of it cleared by qualifying which started at 2pm, I watched it in the promoters hospitality. Just before the CEO and his brother the Chairman wrote their pieces for the artwork.

So much activity in the paddock after quali...it's so nice now I can speak to so many different people. A real community within the confines of the paddock.

I walked over to the FansZone behind the main grandstand...very disappointing number of fans...there seemed to be more food outlets then I’ve seen at any other race!...a number of things caught my eye though...firstly a huge information sign stating First aid to the left ...lost and found to the right. And below that. Interrogation room to the left!!!...what's that all about!

Just along from that was parked a van...written on the side Mobile food testing unit!...what a job that is..must have pretty good stomach linings.

I suppose it will take a number of years..these fans don’t really know F1 too well..and also the tickets are expensive ..So the middle classes are the only section of society that can afford them.

There was a great piece on the news about a real life Slumdog winner of Who wants to be a millionaire..a humble. Extremely poor guy with nothing to his name. No TV, he watched a previous edition with some friends and answered all the questions so they put him forward ....and he duly won the top prize.

There were a bangra band playing and dancing in the paddock after quali and the press interviews...great to see even caught sight Richard Branson shaking his leg...team members photographing the display...so nice..there should be more activity like this in the paddock.

Sat night around the hotel resort..lots of activity..market stalls were set up ..bands playing a curious combination of Indian and western rock. As I walked through down the parade of booths I was nabbed by this very colourful women who must of just had a dip in a tub full of perfume!...She obviously knew I was from Formula 1, still had my pass around my neck....after telling her I was the F1 artist...she insisted on showing me everything...clothes...paintings...jewellery...saying all the time..'Bring Bernie and his wife...they will love this....they must see this...please go and get Bernie...please...he must see....his wife will buy...she's not doing much!'

Managed to wriggle out of the grip!... they all see this as their one opportunity to make a lot of money.


Always looked forward to Sunday..busy day. First race and a special excitement.

Finally the grandstand were filling , during the drivers parade the crowds were very vocal...but when they caught a glimpse of A huge Bollywood star they all went ballistic!....forget Vettel and Shumacher....

No ceremony on the track before the race, I thought there would be, also disappointed that the grid girls were not wearing traditional dress....sponsors dictate these days what they wear...all very beautiful though!

Noticed Mr Bean shaking hands with cricketer and God here  Sachin Tendulkar...great sight.. Saw one Bollywood star ..the biggest it seems ...made over 400 films...dressed like John Travolta in Sat night fever....including the shoes!...the grandstand were calling and screaming his name..amazing.

.Very busy grid funny to see all the non-Indian TV cameras not knowing who the hell these Bollywood stars were..so they would follow the Indian TV cameras!

Even more bizarre after the race, I left in a car with some other people from FOM back to the hotel.....the same Bollywood star was being mobbed by a huge crowd next to the car...then suddenly our car door was opened he got in!....next to me...a few seconds later was then ushered out and taken to another car...very surreal!

The race was a bit of a parade with Vettel leading every lap...great spectacle though. During the race I went up to the Sponsors Suite AirTel. In the Paddock Club..packed with the wealthy Delhi middle classes. The CEO was waiting to write his piece, because Mr E had introduced me to him previously it wasn’t a problem getting him to write...nice long piece about the long wait for the Indian GP and how the whole of India will be proud....and I think it has been a huge success...huge teething problems not least a big hole that had appeared in the paddock during the race...fork -lift trucks arriving to move containers...that’s when the hole appeared..quite dangerous..but somehow..because it's India...one just accepts it

....On a serious ending the new wealth in this vast country really has to be distributed to all ...but that trip took to Agra has left me with a bitter taste ...never seen that sort of Poverty before .and yet along side this is the new India.... with it's booming economy....fast economic growth..doesn't sit comfortably.