James Moy is one of the most-respected photographers in world motorsports. A regular contributor with his camera for Motorsport.com, he picks up his pen to give a unique insight into the recent Barcelona F1 tests.
So that’s it, eight days of solid F1 testing done. Thousands of photographs taken, hundreds of articles written and still we don’t really know what the order will be when we get to Melbourne.
I remember attending F1 tests not that long ago where I would be the only photographer present. There was no demand for instantaneous news; no desire to know the latest tyre compounds or to get the first peek of a new livery.
I was once in Jerez photographing a test back in about 2001, it was lunch time and I was sitting in my hire car parked behind the Ferrari garage, eating a sandwich during the lull in testing. Another car pulled up alongside me, I thought nothing of it.
Then, suddenly, out stepped a very young David Beckham! He looked around, there were no photographers (apart from me), no media, no team people... nobody.
He came over to the window of my car and asked me if he could have a look at the F1 testing! Imagine anything such as that happening now?
Nothing happens now at a test without a TV cameraman or photographer pointing his lens at it. Be that a subtle wing change, a new sponsor sticker, or a world champion arriving with his four-legged friends.
The pressure is certainly on for us photographers at the first test of a new season. Everything is fresh and new and websites need as many photos of the new cars and drivers as we can capture.
Before the first laps take place at the circuit we have had weeks of top-secret photographic assignments. In January this year, I had already shot seat fittings, contract renewals, new liveries, driver portraits and sponsor announcements – all of which are photographed in advance and then released to the media at launch time. Or thrown in the bin after a last-minute sponsor change!
It’s good fun, its unique photography and I always enjoy the pre-season build up.
Finally, after a long winter, we get to Barcelona for the first day of testing. This year we had five car unveils crammed into the single hour before the track opened, and it was a bit of a mad panic to ensure you get the best position for each launch amongst other photographers and TV crews.
I was running from one team to the next to capture the drivers whipping the covers off their new car. And then sending the pictures directly by wireless transmitter around the world to feed the huge demand to see the latest cars.
Catching the first laps
Moments later the pitlane light turns green, and the cars all embark on their first-ever laps in competitive anger together. By now all the phototographers have headed out to the various corners of the circuit.
The overhead area above Turn 2 is the most popular, as it allows you to spin around and get a shot of the slow hairpin behind you too, a double bite at the one-lap cherry.
Images are sent immediately to websites, newspapers and magazines and the 2016 season is go...
After the mayhem of day one, the rest of testing continues at a slightly more relaxed pace. It is a wonderful opportunity for us to shoot the cars in lovely golden winter sun – and Barcelona delivered again, with two weeks of non-stop sun and some stunning orange sunsets.
So who is going to win in Melbourne? No idea, but I will be there to photograph them on the top step of the podium.
Click here to enjoy some of the best shots of the pre-season in all their glory.