Badger reader and pro F1 photographer in the making, @ShivyF1 was in Austin last month to capture the first USA Grand Prix at COTA – read on to see how he got on and enjoy his images…

So how was Austin?

Incredible! The track itself is beautiful, the television pictures don’t do it justice. The undulation on Turn 1 is astounding, not to mention the roller coaster back straight. It was blue skies and low sunshine pretty much the entire day with a pleasant temperature, so I wasn’t complaining!

What’s the City Vibe like?

The city itself is literally built around a college campus, so the vibe was electric, entire areas of the Downtown had turned into a mass of street parties, live bands, muscle car auctions, racing simulators, merchandise stalls and an abundance of cop cars! It’s a very friendly place and met a lot of fantastic people, most of which didn’t know much about F1, but were trying to get a grasp of what its all about, which was nice to see.

Is it a great place for photography?

Yes and no. I tend to do a lot of homework before I visit a new race track, watch videos taken by fans from grandstands, research pictures taken by professionals and even marshals. The problem with COTA is the fact thats its brand new, everyone is shooting in the dark (excuse the pun), so I had to run around the circuit during Friday first practice to find out where my priority points were to be. Half the track is spectacular, the other half is a waste, unfortunately COTA did not allow open grandstands on the Friday, which they tend to do at European races, so that was a kick in the teeth.

Anything you would do different if you go next year?

The Texan sun is relentless, its dry and cool, so take a thin long sleeved turtle neck, its a very very dry place, so you will dehydrate very quickly. The roads into the circuit run through villages and towns and the locals open up their farmland and driveways for parking, so instead of paying the $200 or the weekend at the circuit, just pay $40 a day and they even drop you to the circuit parking gate, don’t do park and ride, I heard horror stories of 3-4 hour queues!

Best moment of the trip?

Too many to choose from, Eddie Jordan lost his paddock pass and was stuck having a huge argument with the pit lane marshals trying to get into the VIP areas. I waited for him to finish, then got a shot with him, I could hear his teeth gritting!

Ended up singing American Pie with Will Buxton (SpeedTV), Laura Allard (Formula 1 blog) and many other Twitter celebrities on the Friday night at the Buxton Bash karaoke. SpeedTV had lost the USA rights for covering F1 to NBC, so it was quite an emotional affair for those involved.

Icing on the cake was when ‘Schumi’ acknowledged my huge banner and gave me the thumbs up!

The sun sets on a fantastic debut for Austin and COTA