Lewis Hamilton: A photographer's view

Lewis Hamilton celebrates Image copyright David Davies/PA

Following Lewis Hamilton's historic Formula 1 triumph in Abu Dhabi last weekend, Press Association photographer David Davies reveals in pictures the moment the British-born racer became World Champion for the second time.

I've always enjoyed covering Formula 1. In fact, it's where my interest in photography started. However, for one reason or another, I have never covered a Championship decider. But that all changed in Abu Dhabi last weekend.

I have covered an F1 race at the spectacular desert racetrack before - back in 2009 - so I already knew a little about this great venue. I was obviously keen to get back out there, but also conscious that I had a huge responsibility to capture another possible great British triumph in F1.

In the end it all turned out perfectly. Lewis became champion and I managed to deliver some nice snaps.

Image copyright David Davies/pa

The weekend starts on Thursday with the drivers' press conference, which normally features one or two of the main players.

For obvious reasons this week, both Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg attended and a rather contrived photo of the two shaking hands was set up before the press conference.

Thanks to Hamilton straightening his t-shirt, the shot, which appeared in media outlets around the UK, looked to be a rather hesitant Lewis contemplating whether to shake Nico's hand or not. This picture portrayed a tension between the two men which many felt had been underlying all season.

Image copyright David Davies/pa

This is one of the practice sessions and shows Hamilton heading out of the Mercedes garage. It's a fairly standard pit lane action shot, but a little tricky to get spot on.

Shot on a wide angle zoom at about 1/15th of a second, the idea is to give the impression of speed but at the same time keeping the driver's helmet sharp as the focal point of the picture.

With the pit lane in half shadow, the background bleaches out to give a high contrast effect. I'm very pleased with this.

Image copyright david davies/pa

Each team at the end of the year produces a photograph which includes the entire team's operation from mechanics to chefs.

Surprisingly Mercedes chose Sunday morning for their picture - Championship decider day. This was great for the photographers, as it gave us a chance to get an early picture of Hamilton and Rosberg together and find out the kind of mood they were in.

From this side position you get a strong grasp of the body language between the two and the very apparent lack of eye contact.

Image copyright david davies/pa

Up to this point, the start is by far the biggest moment of my day.

There had been much speculation as to whether there would be some sort of coming together at the first corner or if the third placed Williams might get between the two Mercedes. As it played out, Lewis made the perfect start and was clear into turn one.

It always makes for a nice picture when all of the cars approach the first corner. Especially when the start-finish bridge is seen in the background - in this case branded with Abu Dhabi putting the picture in situ.

Saying that, Alonso locking his brakes also adds an extra piece of drama to this particular picture.

Image copyright David Davies/pa

As the race develops Hamilton creates a big lead thanks to great driving and some misfortune for his team mate.

I know I need a picture of him during the intensity of the race and a little track knowledge always helps. I make sure I am positioned to capture a clear shot of Lewis turning into one of the chicanes where each car's front wheel is often a little airborne.

Shot on a 500mm telephoto lens I can get right into the cockpit to see the driver fighting the wheel in the desert heat.

Image copyright david davies/pa

The race is won and Lewis Hamilton is World Champion. As soon as he gets out of his car he heads straight for girlfriend Nicole Scherzinger and his brother Nicholas.

I chose a high vantage point on the photographers' platform to have an overview of the whole area.

As he jumps into his family's arms, I can see both Nicole's and Nicholas' face either side of his helmet as they hug - a very touching moment.

Image copyright david davies/pa

From the exact same spot as the last image I am able to get a clean view of the podium, a must-have for such a historic moment in British sport.

Here I capture Hamilton lifting the winner's trophy, but I also get some shots of his tears during the National Anthem and the post-presentation champagne ritual.

Image copyright david davies/pa

After I have wired the podium and parc ferme images back to PA's newsdesk in London, I head down to the front of the garage for the official team celebration picture.

I know this is where it could all go wrong, but thankfully Mercedes organise it beautifully.

A huge scrum of photographers gathers as Lewis poses for the camera, surrounded by his family.

Image copyright david davies/pa

Despite Mercedes' best efforts to organise the photo call, once Lewis is lifted on to his mechanics' shoulders, draped in the union jack, many photographers can't help themselves and an almighty scrum ensues for the best position.

This sort of shot makes for a great atmospheric picture if you can get it.

During moments like this you rarely get any chance to compose your picture or even see what you are taking. In fact at this point I held my camera above my head and pointed the lens in the direction of Hamilton, focusing the picture with my thumb on the back of the camera.

Out of the 100 or so shots that I managed to rattle off, I finished up with about six useable ones. Personally, I think the other cameras add atmosphere to the scene, giving an idea of chaos on the ground, in contrast with the serenity of Lewis sitting aloft as Formula 1 World Champion.