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.

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.

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 Northwest Montana.

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