October 29, 2021

2021 Formula 1 Aramco U.S. Grand Prix at Circuit of the Americas for Texas Highways magazine

After a one-year hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic, I was fortunate to return to Austin to cover the 2021 Formula 1 Aramco United States Grand Prix for my friends at Texas Highways magazine. With a number of health and safety restrictions in place, it was somewhat of a different beast covering the race this year versus the prior five F1 races I've covered in Austin but it provided for some forced creativity throughout the proceedings.

I've addressed this before—this being why someone who often photographs families and weddings would photograph motorsports—and some of it is practicing a genre of photography that is outside my norm, which in the simplest terms helps me fight any burnout I might experience. Variety is the spice of life after all. Secondly, there is value in photographing an event where I have absolutely no control over how things proceed, can't stage anything, and can't get a do-over. And finally, it helps hone my culling and editing, as I need to go through thousands of images more or less as I am taking them, edit my selects, write captions, and turn them over to an editor within 72 hours.

The full photo essay can be found here: "F1 Returns to Texas"

The helicopter flyover at the start of the 2021 Formula 1 United States Grand Prix at Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas.
A photo of roughly three-quarters of the Circuit of the Americas complex taken from the observation deck 231 feet in the air near the top of the iconic COTA Tower.
In the closing stages of the 2021 Formula 1 Aramco United States Grand Prix Daniel Ricciardo leads Carlos Sainz and Valetteri Bottasthrogh the final turn.
The American flag is flown by skidivers during the national anthem, accompanied by red, white, and blue smoke at the beginning of the 2021 Formula 1 Aramco United States Grand Prix in Austin, Texas.
Daniel Ricciardo's McLaren sheds sparks as the underside of the car scrapes the tarmac on the exit of turn 18 in the tower complex at Circuit of the Americas during qualifying of the 2021 Formula 1 Aramco United States Grand Prix.
The Austin skyline as viewed from the track with the turn 11 grandstands to the left. After early clouds and extreme humidity, race day turned into a beaiutiful if hot day.
Yuki Tsunoda, Kimi Raikonnen, Fernando Alonso, and Antonio Giovinazzi speed down the start/finish straight towards the track's signature turn one.
COTA's "Onederland" area in the new infield viewing area at the back stretch of the track described as a sort of mini-burning man festival.
Fans take a selfie on the observation deck 231 feet in the air on the COTA Tower.
A spectator on the lawn in the tower complex finds respite from the son with a Texas flag umbrella.
International fans and Formula 1 go hand-in-hand, and this year at the United States Grand PRix it was no differen.t
Australian Daniel Ricciardo has a habit of going "full Texan" whenever he visits Austin for the United States Grand Prix having in years past worn UT Longhorn football jersey and a replica Longhorn football helmet as his crash helmet.
Red Bull's Max Verstappen heads up the hill at turn eight during the 2021 Formula 1 Aramco United States Grand Prix at Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas.
Aston Martin's Sebastian Vettel as he exits the pit lane during qualifying session one of the 2021 Formula 1 Aramco United States Grand Prix at Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas.
Alpine F1 Team's Fernando Alonso speeds through the tower complex, taken from above on the observation platform.
Aston Martin's Lance Stroll navigates the esses—a series of high speed 'corners'—during the 2021 Formula 1 Aramco United States Grand PRix at Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas.
Scuderia Alpha Tauri's Yuki Tsunoda enters turn 19 during the third practice session of the weekend.
Fans from Mexico watching from the pedestrian bridge at turn three.
In the early stages of the race Aston Martin's Sebastian Vettel follows Williams' George Russell out of turn one during the 2021 Formula 1 Aramco Untied States Grand Prix.
Carnival rides and attractions abound throughout Circuit of the Amercias to provide a mixture of entertainment beyond the on-track action.
The three year old W Series—an all female racing series—made its debut on North American at the 2021 Formula 1 Aramco UNited States Grand Prix. Previously only racing in parts of Europe. Driver Jamie Chadwick won the first of two races over the weekend.
McLaren's Daniel Ricciardo exits turn 10 with the inonic COTA tower in the background during the first practice session of the 2021 Formula 1 United States Grand Prix in Austin, Texas.
The iconic COTA Tower with an F1 flag the morning of practice session three.
Naturally when an event takes place in the "Live Music Captial of the World" there's going to be plenty of music performances to be had from Billy Joel, 21 Pilots, Kool & the Gang, to numerous local acts.
For the 2021 Formula 1 Aramco United States Grand Prix at Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas on October 22, 2021, the Honda powered cars of Red Bull and Slpha Tauri sported the Acura logo on the rear wing instead of the usual Honda branding.
Aston Martin Cognizant's driver Sebastian Vettel navigates the "esses" during the first practice session of the 2021 Formula 1 Aramco United States Grand Prix at Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas on October 22, 2021.
Uralkali Hass F1 Team's driver Mick Schumacher exits turn 12 followed by two other cars during the second practice session of the 2021 Formula 1 Aramco United States Grand Prix at Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas on October 22, 2021 with a representation of the Texas flag painted on the run-off area behind him.
Alpine F1 Team's driver Esteban Ocon exits turn one during the first practice session of the 2021 Formula 1 Aramco United States Grand Prix at Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas on October 22, 2021.
McLaren F1 Team's Daniel Ricciardo doing demonstration laps in the late Dale Earnhardt Sr's 1984 Chevrolet Monte Carlo NASCAR stock car with its iconic blue and yellow "Wrangler Jeans" livery. Earnhardt Sr. is in fact why Ricciardo drives under the number '3.' in tribute.
Alfa Romeo Racing's driver Antonio Giovinazzi enters Turn 14 during the second practice session of the 2021 Formula 1 Aramco United States Grand Prix at Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas on October 22, 2021.
One of the numerous marshall stands surrounding the track. Race marshall's are an imprtant part in keeping everyone from teh drivers to fans safe throughout a race weekend and are typically volunteers. It's hard work, but an outstanding way to get a front row seat to a race.
Scuederia Ferrari's Carlos Sainz races under the pedestrian bridge at turn three during the first practice session of the 2021 Formula 1 Aramco United States Grand Prix at Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas.
Haas F1's Nikita Mazepin crests the hill at turn eight during the first practice session of the 2021 Formula 1 Aramco United States Grand Prix at Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas.
The crews of Red Bull's Max Verstappen and Checo Perez climb the fence to celebrate their drivers finishing first and third, respectively, for the 2021 Formula 1 Aramco United States Grand PRix.
The throngs of fans in the mian grandstand area as well as the turn one lawn and grandstand. Supports of Max Verstappen have set off their signature orange smoke bombs that are often seen at Grand Prix around the world.
The podium ceremony for the 2021 Formula 1 Aramco United States Grand Prix with guest presenter Shaquille O'Neal who was also DJing a concert after the race under the name "DJ Diesel"
The podium ceremony as seen over the crowd that stormed on the track as part of the "fan track invasion" immediately following the completion of the race.

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.

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

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