Getting credentials to any Foruma 1 event is a notable achievement. Thus, when presented with the opportunity, it’s best to act in a professional manner and not get in the way of the teams and drivers when they’re going about their business.
During this week’s pre-season testing in Barcelona, it appears one photographer didn’t abide by the unwritten rules when he defiantly stood in front of the new W07 Formula 1 vehicle of Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton while his team was making tweaks in the pit.
As you can see in the clip, he almost paid the price by becoming an unwilling sponsor on the Mercedes team’s new livery, even after he was asked twice to move out of the way (he was actually asked three times, as can be seen in the full-length video below).
The unknown photographer can be seen trying to snap photos in front of the vehicle as the Mercedes team does their thing. Almost immediately upon Hamilton pulling into the pits, a large board is put in place behind the vehicle. While it might seem like this is a backdrop for the photographer, that isn’t likely the case.
In Formula 1, any technical advantage you have over another team is worth its weight in gold and time in second differentials. Especially during pre-season testing, teams do their best to hide various design elements of the car that might help them to perform even slightly better on race day. Especially when you’re coming off back-to-back drivers and constructors titles in 2014 & 2015.
Thus, it’s far more likely that these boards were put in place to prevent photographers (seen in the pit behind the Mercedes) from photographing the rear diffuser, a very critical and precisely designed component of a Formula 1 vehicles that helps regulate the air going underneath the car so that the car receives as much downforce as possible without compromising on drag.
It’s not uncommon for other teams to pay photographers for high-res shots of the vehicle’s bodywork so they can better understand what they’re going up against and how to tweak their own design.
Below is the full-length video of Sky F1’s Ted Kravitz breaking down the third day of pre-season testing. The incident occurs at roughly the 3:40 mark.
It’s also worth noting that the media member wearing vest number ‘050’ is Lewis Hamilton’s personal photographer Steve Etherington, who has an incredible portfolio of motorsports photography and a job I could only dream of having.