Words and images by Rajan Jangda of Chequered Flag Media
The Animals went in two by two no more
Part 3 of 4
Silverstone WEC gridwalk. Sunday morning, and luckily there’s no repeat of my Saturday morning stomach gremlins. Today was going to be my first proper gridwalk as a photographer, and what a gridwalk to have the privilege of covering. It wasn’t the usual fare either: firstly, gone were the gridgirls. A hot topic (sorry for the pun) that saw mixed reactions with some welcoming the change while others were more or less outraged. A debate that I pretty much want no part in. The second change was the cars lined up in the style of a traditional Le Mans style start as opposed to the now traditional grid: the animals went in two by two no more/hurrah, hurrah!
Joining me for the day was Shivraj Gohil of CurrentE.com. He buzzed around snapping all the Formula-E drivers like a man with ants in his pants and understandably so as there was a wealth of Formula-E drivers on the grid: Buemi, Sarrazin and Conway driving for Toyota, Loic Duval and Formula-E championship leader Lucas Di Grassi were at Audi, Sam Bird was driving for G Drive Racing and lastly Vitantonio Liuzzi was in the Bykolles CLM.
The gridwalk itself offered a good chance to get very close to the cars and drivers, providing you could successfully navigate through the VIP’s who would look at me funny if I ruined their selfies. Oh the irony! Now don’t get me wrong, although they add to the occasion, they can be a hinderence when wearing your photographer hat! Not always fully aware that the photographers have a job to do, I decided to adopt a strategy of just making them laugh by doing silly things to get past them, such as doing the limbo without ruining their selfies, or doing the shmoney dance and wiggling my way through the crowd while repeatedly saying, “Serpentine! Serpentine! Serpentine!” and it worked.
Back to the gridwalk itself, after having a sniff around the sharp end I then looked elsewhere to see if I could catch anything of note. When I reached the leading LMP2 G Drive car I noticed that there was suddenly no crowd, with the bulk of the people on the grid smothering the LMP1 cars and jostling to glimpse the multi-million dollar machines up close.
There weren’t many drivers on the grid, but I did manage to find Fernando Rees catching up on his Instagram feed and wearing a big smile. Sam Bird was talking to Vitantonio Liuzzi, perhaps telling him that to his understanding, everyone had heard that, “The bird is the word”.
As I went back to the front to catch more of the big boys, what struck me the most when being close to the LMP1 and LMP2 cars was the level of detail that does into the aero, and the way in which it is all contained within the body of the car.
It is a world apart from how Formula 1 does things with aero-warts growing off noses and side pods. The modern-era Le Mans Prototype is genuinely a thing of beauty, even when you consider those headlights on the new Audis!
Just before we were shepherded off the grid by the marshals and security calling, “Clear the grid!”, I managed to catch Lucas Di Grassi striking a pose for Shivraj Gohil, so I decided to snap the both of them. “Don’t worry guys, I captured the bromance” I said causing laughter to interrupt their serious faces. Just as I was about to capture Sebastien Buemi who had turned to face me, I felt a gentle but firm nudge. It was one of the marshals and time was now well and truly up. With the Silverstone WEC gridwalk over, I had to run up to the media centre; recharge; refresh and spend the next 6 hours or so doing what I do best.
Check back tomorrow for part 4 of our Silverstone coverage. The race report….Just before Spa!