Ferrari. Monza. Tifosi.
These are names that echo with nouns that define the sport of Formula 1. For 63 years, Formula One has made Monza the temple of speed. The cathedral of fast, loud cars. The worship center for legions of fans who show up for the last hurrah of Formula One’s European calendar. As quickly as the circus shows up in Italy, it’s gone again. Off to far away Singapore.
But not before the gauntlet was thrown down between Mercedes’ two star drivers. It started much earlier in the season, but seems to have reached fever pitch in the last two races. Following drama in Belgium, Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg have held each other at arms length. Which leaves it to the team to keep what could be a Friday night bar fight from breaking out between the two. Or so it seems anyway. It’s probably mostly verbal diarrhea from the media trying to make something more interesting out of the situation.
But what better place to have a bar fight than the hallowed treelined park that is Monza? And a fight it was. Standing in the turn 1 tower with my 500mm, pole sitter Hamilton had a terrible start and before even reaching turn 1, he was well down the grid, leaving his main rival and teammate to run off into the distance. After dispatching the cars between them, Hamilton began slowly reeling in the rival mercedes. Laps go quickly here. At 220mph, you would hope that they would. And each time the cars came buzzing down the straight with that now distinct turbo whistle, Hamilton had closed the gap. Visibly so. We all knew it was on. And then…..Rosberg made a mistake. Conspiracy theorists would argue it was a team ordered mistake. But I don’t believe it was. It looked like a genuine tire lockup and one that resulted in Hamilton romping off into the distance. In the end, the epic battle did not ever really play out.
Monza was something of a roller coaster weekend for me. If Monaco was the place the seed for the F1 photography dream was planted for me, then Monza is the place it started to grow. I attended the Italian GP in 2010, as a fan. I shot it with general admission access only, and even had the chance to meet a few of the photographers I now work alongside of. Being at Monza again brought great memories flooding back. But then there was the nightmare of Sunday afternoon. For those that follow me on twitter and instagram (@jameypricephoto) then you may know that my Nikon D4 with a 14-24mm lens attached to it were knifed off my back by an Italian “pick pocket” while I was in the massive crowd of fans underneath the podium. What angers me is not the lost gear, but the lost images of the podium ceremony. I have a few from my second camera, but none of the ones I wanted, and none of the ones I knew were nice. Oh well. I would probably do it all over again and be in that same spot next year if I could be.
Until then, enjoy a selection of my favorite images from the 2014 Italian Grand Prix at Monza!