November 13, 2023

2023 Formula 1 United States Grand Prix for Texas Highways

I was fortunate to once again have the opportunity to travel to Austin to cover the 2023 Formula 1 United States Grand Prix at Circuit of the Americas for Texas Highways magazine. When I first had the assignment of covering the race in 2015, I figured it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Somehow, whether through pure luck, manifesting it, or just maybe some skill I've not attended the Austin-based race eight times as credentialed media. It gets more challenging every year to get creative, but such an amazing experience very time.

Below you'll find mainly outtakes from the published photo essay, which can be found here: "F1 in Austin Makes History With America's First Sprint Race"

Scuderia Alpha Tauri's Yuki Tsunoda climbs the "Big Red" hill towards turn one during the Grand Prix.
MoneyGram Haas F1's Kevin Magnussen rounds the tower complex during Saturday's Formula 1 Sprint Race.
The back of Red Bull Racing's pit wall command center with the main grandstand in the background.
McLaren's Lando Norris exits turn one in the early stages of the Grand Prix.
Fictional racing legend Ricky Bobby poses with a longhorn outside the paddock entrance prior to Sundays race.
MoneyGram Haas F1's Nico Hulkenberg speeds down the start/finish straight.
McLaren's Lando Norris overtakes Ferrari's Charles Leclerc at the first corner of the 2023 Formula 1 Lenovo United States Grand PRix.
Scuderia Ferrari's Carlos Sainz passes the COTA Observation Tower during Satruday's Formula 1 Sprint Race.
Scuderia Ferrari's Charles Leclerc speeds up the hill towards "Big Red"—the first corner of the racetrack named after one of the initial investors, Red McCombs—during the Formula 1 Sprint Shootout.
Aston Martin Aramco Cognizant F1 Team's Fernando Alonso—a two-time F1 Drivers Champion—stops at the end of the pit lane at the start of the Sprint Shootout on Saturtday aftertnoon.
Kim Reimer—the "Ferrari Hat Guy"—hails from Florida and has been to numerous Grand Prix including Montreal and Miami, and makes a new hat every season. This year's rendition is his 20th such hat. He likes the United States Grand Prix here in Austin because the track provides numerous excellent vantage points where you can see the track action for a good duration, versus the slivers of track many other racetracks offer.
Scuderia Ferrari's Charles Leclerc is interviewed after finishing third in Saturday evening's Formula 1 Sprint Race.
Racing legend Jackie Stewart—Sir John Young Stewart OBE formally—speaks to attendees in the paddock area behind the team garages.
Members of the University of Texas Longhorn Band flash the horns before hefore heading out onto the track to perform prior to the race.
A very Texas-sized welcome greets visitors as they enter the Grand Plaza area at the circuit through the main entrance gates.
In a bit of deja vu from the Sprint Race the day prior, Max Verstappen also won the 2023 Formula 1 Lenovo United States Grand Prix on October 22, 2023.
A large homage to Austin's Mexican Free-Tailed bat population on the mural outside the main grandstand.
The Porsche Carrera Cup Norht America is one of the support races being run during the Formula 1 United States Grand Prix weekend in Austin. Here, a competitor heads towards turn three during the qualifying session Saturday morning.
A performer does lasso tricks on the councourse outside the main grandstand during Friday's track action.
Scuderia Ferrari's Charles Leclerc navigate the second qualifying round for Sunday's Grand Prix.
Scuderia Ferrari's Carlos Sainz navigate the second qualifying round for Sunday's Grand Prix.
McLaren F1 Team's Lando Norris crests the hill at Turn 10 with the massive Texas state flag and COTA tower looming in the background.
MoneyGram Haas F1 Team's Nico Hülkenberg stops to take a selfie with a fan during the team's unveiling of a special livery for ithe United States Grand Prix.
A new mural to th eleft of the main grandstand outside the circuit depciting the three primary race series that COTA hosts, as well as items from the Austin skyline.
Oracle Red Bull Racing's Sergio "Checo" Perez navigates the tower complex during free practice one.
Juan Marin, visiting from Houston, is attending his second United States Grand Prix, after having grown up watching it. He couldn't pass up the opportunity after living just a couple of hours away.
Prema Racing's Chloe Chong takes part in free practice one of the F1 Academy series, and all female series meant to serve as a pipeline to the elite levels of motorsport for women.
A view from the back of the Turn 19 grandstand while fans take in the first Formula 1 free practice.
At the United States Grand Prixc, Formula 1 as a whole—and the teams individually—have long embraced what people in other countries view as U.S. culture in general and Texas culture specifically. Here, Scuderia Ferrari's Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz play a friendly game of corn hole in football-styled team jerseys, cowboy hats, and face mustaches.
Alfa Romeo's Valtteri Bottas arrives at the track in cowboy couture.
Race preperation presents itself in hundreds of different ways, not the least of which are teams accounting for their tire allocation for the weekend, and makig sure they're inflated to the requireed specifications.

December 1, 2019

2019 Formula 1 Emirates U.S. Grand Prix at Circuit of the Americas for Texas Highways magazine

Every time I find myself at Circuit of the Americas outside Austin, Texas I mentally pinch myself. Mentally because if I were to walk around physically pinching myself that'd just be weird. This past November I had the opportunity to cover my fifth Formula 1 United States Grand Prix for the team at Texas Highwaysthe official travel magazine of Texas—and I truly can't thank them enough.

When I photographed my first race back in 2015, if I'm being totally honest, I just barely deserved to be there. It isn't that I didn't get some shots that I really, really like, and I was fortunate that my instincts partially gained from photographing weddings and live music events placed me in the right spot at the right time for the podium ceremony where Lewis Hamilton secured his—at the time—third drivers championship, but I just didn't really know what I was doing. I generally had a sense of the format of a Grand Prix weekend, but I didn't follow the sport at the time. Which I suppose meant I was no better or worse off than your typical American when it comes to Formula 1, but still. It also didn't help that Central Texas experienced some truly severe weather that weekend which scuttled basically an entire day of racing and the subsequent photography of said racing.

Fast forward to this year, and Lewis Hamilton secured his sixth driver championship in Austin, and I was very much aware of that storyline—and all of the storylines—of the 2019 season. I'm now the kind of fan that subscribes to the sports streaming service where I can watch every practice session, every qualifying session, and every race live if I choose—or should I say if I can stay up late or get up super early to watch races live that are taking place on the other side of the world.

When working on an editorial assignment for a magazine covering a sporting event, it really helps me hone my skills in quickly culling and editing photos, and turning them around into something of a narrative—if just barely—and publishing them. Going through over six thousand photos from four days, and culling those down to a manageable slideshow number, and writing captions, and having it all ready to go no later than the day following the race is a heck of a skill set to have when I am trying to turn around wedding photos or family portraits, and really helps me provide those photos to my clients more quickly than many other wedding and family photographers.

With all of that said, enjoy some outtakes that simply wouldn't fit in the published gallery over at Texas Highways. And if you've never followed Formula 1, or only done so casually, maybe this will help change your mind and turn you into the superfan I've become.

Tony Stewart of Stewart-Haas racing and NASCAR fame brought a car to Circuit of the Americas for Kevin Magnussen and Romain Grosjean of Haas F1 to take for a spin around the track.
Renault F1's Daniel Ricciardo has fully embraced the Texas lifestyle and reveals his special edition race helmet for the United States Grand Prix, styled after the football helmet of the University of Texas Longhorns. He was joined by the Bevo mascot and the Longhorn Cheerleaders for the reveal.
Scuderia Ferrari's pit crew runs through pit stop practice on Thursday prior to the start of track action.
Charles LeClerc's Number 16 Ferrari SF90 awaits scrutineering on Thursday, October 31st. Each team has to present their cars each race to the FIA—F1's governing body—to insure their cars conform to race regulations.
Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel rounds the hairpin turn 12 during free practice three with the Texas flag painted on the track in the background.
Lando Norris speeds through turn 17, caught here reflected in the glass on the side of the observation deck 230 ft in the air on the COTA tower.
Alfa Romeo's Kimi Raikonnen—last year's race winner when he drove for Ferrari—signs autographs during Saturday morning in the F1 Fan Zone.
Ferrari's Charles LeClerc makes his way into the paddock on Saturday morning prior to free practice three.
Daniel Ricciardo sporting a jersey from The University of Texas Longhorns during the drivers parade to coordinate with his special helmet for the race, a replica of the Longhorns' football helmets.
Eventual race winner—Mercedes' Valtteri Bottas—exits turn one towards the beginning of the 2019 Formula 1 United States Grand Prix.

March 27, 2019

Inaugural IndyCar Classic at Circuit of the Americas for Texas Highways magazine

The IndyCar Series finally came to Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas this March and I was fortunate to be there covering the event for Texas Highways magazine.

While it doesn't happen at every race, it sure seems like the purpose-built Formula 1 track has a knack for being the setting for history-making events of varying degrees (see Kimi Raikonnen's winning drive at the 2018 F1 United States Grand Prix.) The IndyCar Classic was no exception, with Colton Herta taking the checkered flag, and becoming the youngest race-winning driver in IndyCar Series history at age 18.

Check out the whole gallery over at Texas Highways.

Alexander Rossi with the general admission area adjacent to the turn one hill in the background during the 2019 IndyCar Classic at Circuit of the Americas.
James Hinchcliffe, rookie Patricio O'Ward, and rookie Felix Rosenqvist make their way from the main straight up the 133-foot hill to turn one as Scott Dixon exits the pit lane during the 2019 IndyCar classic.
Andretti Autosport's Ryan Hunter-Reay crests turn 10 with the Circuit of the Americas tower in the background during the first IndyCar practice session.
Team Penske's Josef Newgarden exits turn 11 behind a field of bluebonnets. Because Texas.
One of the support races at the inaugural IndyCar classic featured Stadium Super Trucks., which are clearly a departure from your standard road racing featuring jumps, and lots of corners where the trucks end up on two wheels.
One of the support races at the inaugural IndyCar classic featured Stadium Super Trucks., which are clearly a departure from your standard road racing featuring jumps, and lots of corners where the trucks end up on two wheels.
Ameripolitan Music legend Dale Watson performing on the "Lone Star Stage" which featured Texas-tinged music throughout the IndyCar Classic weekend.
Carlin's Max Chilton rises up the hill past turn 9 during IndyCar practice three.
Mayer Shank Racing with Arrow SPM's Jack Harvey view from the platform atop the COTA tower. Spectators take tours to the viewing platform 230 feet in the air for a 360-degree view of the track, surrounding landscape, and the Austin Skyline.
Race winner Colton Herta—the youngest winner of an IndyCar race in history—autographs the television camera at the conclusion of the 2019 IndyCar Classic at Circuit of the Americas.
Confetti cannons going off during the podium celebration for the inaugural IndyCar Classic at Circuit of the Americas.

October 31, 2018

2018 Formula 1 Pirelli United States Grand Prix for Texas Highways magazine

A couple of weeks ago I was fortunate to once again return to Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas to cover the 2018 Formula 1 Pirelli United States Grand Prix for Texas Highways magazine The weekend narrative was Lewis Hamilton's impending fifth driver's championship making him one of only three drivers to reach that number. However, despite starting the race on pole, it wasn't meant to be. Kimi Raikonnen ultimately took the win—his first since 2014—giving the crowds something to truly be excited to see, even if it wasn't the history they were expecting to see.

Here's a selection of photos from the weekend, but to see the full photo essay you'll need to head on over to Texas Highways.

The iconic COTA Tower at sunrise on race day. Just because this is a motorsport event doesn't mean you can have a typical Texas Highways landscape.
Tires upon tires upon tires lined up outside of a team garage. The wet weather early in the weekend necessitated lots of these green-walled "intermediate" tiles being used.
Lewis Hamilton's—of the Great Brittain—number 44 Mercedes AMG Petronas Motorsport car sitting in the team garage as they make final adjustments to prepare the car for the weekend.
Driver Lando Norris putting his McLaren through the paces in a very wet FP1 session. Lando will be driving full-time for McLaren for the 2019 season.
Daniel Ricciardo speeding past the iconic COTA Tower during FP3.
Red Bull Racing's Max Verstappen signing autographs.
Charles LeClerc's Alfa Romeo Sauber exiting turn 1 during FP2.
Fan-favorite Daniel Ricciardo running his number 3 Red Bull Racing machine through turns 12 and 13.
Two-time world champion Fernando Alonso running his McLaren through turns 12 and 13 during the rain-soaked FP1.
Sergey Sirotkin's number 35 Williams Martini Racing exiting turn 1 during an even more water-soaked track in FP2.
Sebastian Vettel at turn 10 during Saturday afternoon's qualifying session.
Due to the extraordinarily low ground clearance, it is common for sparks to fly from underneath the cars as they run over any track imperfections.
Charles LeClerc in his parade transportation.
Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton during the pre-race drivers' parade.
The University of Texas Longhorn Show Band performing on track prior to the race.
McLaren's Fernando Alonso and Force India's Esteban Ocon during the pre-race drivers' parade.
Lance Stroll opted for some Texas appropriate headwear for the festivities.
Prior to the start of FP3, the team performs several repetitions of pit stop practice by rolling the car into the pit box and performing different tasks like changing the tires. This practice is what helps them do pitstops in under three seconds on a regular basis.
Kimi Raikonnen between turns 5 and 6 during qualifying.
Haas F1's other driver, Kevin Magnussen, flying past turn 19 during FP1.
Pierre Gasly's number 10 Red Bull Toro Rosso Honda flying up the hill into turn 1 during FP2.
Kimi Raikonnen giving a thumbs up to the crowd after securing his first race win in 113 races, and first since rejoining Ferrari in 2014.
Max Verstappen's team enjoying an unexpected second-place finish for the 2018 USGP.
Max Verstappen celebrates with his team after a stellar drive from 18th to 2nd, something extremely rare in Formula 1.
Red Bull Racing's Max Verstappen celebrates his second-place finish.
Max Verstappen turned 21 just before the race, finally allowing him to actually drink the champaign on the podium at a U.S. race.
Podium group photo.
Media, teams, and fans crowd the podium ceremony.

October 27, 2017

2017 Formula 1 United States Grand Prix for Texas Highways

I once again had the opportunity to shoot the Formula 1 United States Grand Prix at Circuit of the Americas for my colleagues at Texas Highways magazine, and I wasn't going to miss it. For the most part, Austin was once again blessed with tremendous weather for the most important parts of the weekend. And while I think there were issues with my credentials, thus not being able to also cover the Justin Timberlake and Stevie Wonder concerts, it was still a really great race on the track, which of course is really the whole point. Below is a smaller subset of images from the weekend, for the full gallery please visit the photo essay over at Texas Highways.

September 29, 2017

2017 WEC 6 Hours of COTA for Texas Highways magazine

When I first pitched the idea of doing a photo essay of this years' Lone Star Le Mans at Circuit of the Americas for my colleagues at Texas Highways magazine, I didn't realize the World Endurance Championship wouldn't be returning to Austin in the foreseeable future. Which I won't lie is a bit of a bummer.

I also didn't realize that there wouldn't be any evening racing, and I'd really hoped to capture the track at night. Double whammy!

But capture the event I did, and I'm really glad I had the opportunity. It was a really neat experience and its a shame that more people didn't attend. The amount of access to the cars, the teams, the drivers, and parts of the facility were truly amazing. And while having media credentials did allow me to shoot trackside which I couldn't have done otherwise, I didn't need it to get up close to the paddock area, the garages, anything really.

These are just a handful of the images, you can view the whole gallery over at Texas Highways.

April 24, 2017

2017 MotoGP Grand Prix of the Americas for Texas Highways magazine

I'd previously been out to Circuit of the Americas to cover Formula 1 twice but had never attended a MotoGP race. That all changed this year with the opportunity to cover the 2017 Red Bull Grand Prix of the Americas for Texas Highways magazine. It was a really great experience, with its own minor quirks and challenges shooting it that differed from covering Formula 1 (beyond the obvious differences of course). For additional photos check out the full photo essay.

November 1, 2016

2016 Formula 1 United States Grand Prix for Texas Highways magazine

This year I was fortunate to once again shoot the Formula 1 United States Grand Prix at Circuit of the Americas for Texas Highways magazine. In addition to the race festivities, I was also able to secure accreditation for Taylor Swift's sole performance of 2016 following Saturday's qualifying race. And while it may sound crazy, I think there is a lot of overlap between the skills involved in shooting such a large motorsport event and music performance and wedding photography. You're constantly on the move and dealing with sometimes limited vantage points from which to get just the shot your looking for which really forces you to get creative.

Below you'll find only a handful of images from the event, so if you're into F1 and/or Taylor Swift be sure to check out the full photo series.

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Matt Wetzler is an editorial, motorsport, portrait, and destination wedding photographer based in Whitefish, Montana.

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