Starting at Imola, we would like to provide you with an unusual view of the Trofeo Maserati. Our intention is to let explore each circuit through the lenses of the official championship photographers, the GrimFoto agency.
First up is Mario Chiarappa. He has been taking spectacular shots at Formula 1, FIA GT and single-make series for fifteen years. An exceptional photographer, he has won awards at the Concorso Pepi Cereda, a contest reserved to photographers working in Formula 1.
“In my opinion, the best curve at Imola, from a photographic point of view, is the Variante Alta. This right-left was left untouched by the modifications to the Santerno layout and it is at this point that you see the cars riding the kerbs, which are quite high here, and the drivers doing everything to keep the car under control. It is not unusual to see cars up on two wheels at this curve.
The changes made to the track completely took out the Variante Bassa and this, for we photographers, is a huge loss. It was an interesting stretch because you could capture the car on the kerb when drivers adopted a more aggressive line. It also allowed us to photograph the car from every key perspective: front on, a three-quarter shot, side on and from the back. It also meant that we could get almost ‘unique’ images by photographing the start from the behind the action. This point of view works especially well in Formula 1 where the start is often tight.
One crucial curve for the drivers, but not the photographers, is Tosa. Tosa is useful for getting shots of the bunch, something that is easiest to do over the early laps. You can also get a few interesting shots of cars taking the climb into Piratella.
Piratella can be photographed but you are really far away from the track and forced to use a long lens. Also, there is not much space to get into a really good position to get the exciting shots.
Even though it was better a few years ago, Acque Minerali offers more: during Formula 1 races, the cars can be captured almost front on with a scenic backdrop. Unfortunately, and this is true of the entire track, the lack of a service road means that photographers have to stay, more or less, in the same spot.
Villeneuve and Tamburello, two chicanes created after the tragic weekend in 1994, aren’t really worth spending too much time on apart from taking group shots just after the start.
Rivazza is not a curve that I like shooting. The position you are in is very far from the action and this forces you into using long lenses, ones that don’t really work well in hot weather. This is because you get the ‘mirage’ effect that means the image cannot be used.
At Imola, a lot of photographers use the Marlboro Tower to frame the cars from above. Imola is one of the few circuits where you can get an image like this.
As regards the lenses, we use a bit of everything. At Imola I have opted for a 24-70 mm wide angle zoom, a 70-200 mm telephoto zoom, an F2.8 300 mm and an F4 500mm. If I need to, I can also grab the x1.7 or x2.0 teleconvertors, light and heat permitting.
One of my favourite shots from here at Imola is of Andrea Bertolini and was taken during the 2005 FIA GT. The world GT1 champion was at the wheel of a JMB Racing Maserati MC12 at the end of the section heading into Piratella where the track dips and rises. I managed to capture the Maserati with all four wheels off the ground, something that is pretty rare in GT races. Getting that shot was lucky as it depended on having a talented and brave driver keeping his foot on the gas despite heading into the tough Piratella left hander, one taken almost blind”.