Bit Close For Comfort

I`m fairly sure that colleagues and friends are soon going to stop travelling with me. On my own I am fine, I can navigate and travel around the world with ease. But give me company and it all starts to go a bit wrong.

I have mentioned before about my time in a Vietnamese jail, my travel disasters surrounding the ash cloud and being stuck with no visa in Moscow.

But this weekend`s first disaster occurred on the M20 motorway whilst on our way to Spa. A tyre blow out at 70 (ish) mph meant that we were making an unscheduled pitstop at the side of a busy motorway and a quick dash into the nearest town for a full check up and all round tyre replacement.
This un-planned stop sadly meant that we lost the race to Spa against fellow media colleagues all bombing down to the Ardennes in various exotic machinery.

The rest of the weekend was going swimmingly well with good photographic opportunities in the damp and occasionally sunny conditions of the Spa Francorchamp circuit.

That was until lap 13 of the race on Sunday.

I had decided to photograph the race from the outside of the circuit at Les Combes corner. This was a calculated decision and although I was a little restricted for pre-race, grid and glamour I thought that the corner at the end of the DRS zone had the possibility to provide some drama and action.
And my word, was there action.
I was shooting through a photographer`s hole in the catch fencing as Lewis and Kamui raced side by side towards the braking zone and then all hell broke loose. Suddenly they touched, a McLaren was pitched sideways (at this stage I actually thought it was Jenson!) and was on a collision course at 300kph with the barrier directly in front of me. I kept shooting, but as my natural instinct to run kicked in, I turned and legged it. I was a metre or two away as carbon fibre parts and advertising signage rained down around me and I had the split second thought that the car was about to rip through my body.

As I stopped, with debris and dust still floating in the air, I looked around and could see no car. Had he actually hit the barrier and flown over the top of me? Was he sitting in a wreck in the forest behind me? I couldn`t see a thing. Then looking about 200 metres further down the track I could see a smouldering and smoking wreckage of a silver McLaren. Phew. I ran down the track perimeter path just as I saw Lewis sheepishly climbing out.

I was very lucky. I was lucky that the car hadn`t flipped, I was lucky that the barrier had withstood the impact, I was lucky that the wheels didn`t start flying, I was lucky that the debris fence has done its job and stopped most of the flying parts ripping me to pieces. And I was lucky that Lewis was able to climb out of the car himself and that I wasn`t looking at a more sombre scene.

Sadly, from where I was standing it didn`t make for the most dramatic of photos! The photographers on the other side of the circuit have some great shots of the car hitting the barrier, bits flying everywhere and me running for my life. But by the time I stopped shooting and ran, Lewis was pretty much filling my frame with his helmet.
There has been much talk of the incident since, and I have no view. There has been blame pinned on both drivers and Lewis has publicly apologised for the incident, but from where I was stood I couldn`t care less. It provided me with an interesting photo or two. Ten minutes of serious adrenalin, and a good story too.

I`m not sure it`s a scenario I would want to repeat again in the near future. I think I should keep the drama to my travel disasters and leave the on track action to the experts.