When you think of F1 drivers, words like competitive, courageous and quick spring to mind. Charitable is not usually at the top of the list but perhaps it should be. On Friday (7 February) the second Zoom auction of signed photos taken by every F1 driver and team boss will take place in London and the participants have gone an extra mile this year.
The Zoom concept was created in 2012 by Pitpass' business editor Christian Sylt and his colleague Caroline Reid who realised that although there are plenty of charity auctions in F1 they all tend to follow a similar format. The items on offer are usually signed clothing worn by drivers or photos of them. Zoom turned this on its head by giving all the drivers and team bosses the opportunity to take photos of whatever they wanted. F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone was the first person who was asked and he gave Zoom his all-important endorsement. The results were remarkably colourful.
Sebastian Vettel's snap was of the Alps on a skiing trip, whilst his boss Christian Horner's photo was of his Airedale Terrier sitting in the back of his Land Rover Defender. Sergio Perez proved that Lewis Hamilton doesn't have the monopoly on bulldogs by taking a shot of his own which is named Canelo. As Pitpass revealed, Daniel Ricciardo's photo was of his beloved quad bike sitting in a sand dune in Australia whilst Kimi Raikkonen revealed his true colours with a photo of some daring driving which had taken place atop a skyscraper. And who could forget Ecclestone's snap of two snowmen which adorns the mantelpiece in his Swiss chalet?
The photos were all taken especially for the event and can be viewed here. They attracted a lot of attention with reports about the initiative appearing in many UK papers including a cover story on the Daily Telegraph's motoring section. The photos give a unique insight into the private lives of some of the most famous names in motorsport but the real jewels in the crown were the signed originals. These one-off pieces were sold in aid of Great Ormond Street Children's Hospital at a star-studded event hosted by Eddie Jordan. Buyers included Damon Hill and a billionaire owner of an F1 team. One of the best-sellers was a photo taken by Michael Schumacher which went for £2,500 to a collector in California.
Although the signed photos from the inaugural event will not be put on sale again, a new set has been taken for this year as Zoom is an annual initiative, and they are equally diverse. Sylt again used his contacts with all of the drivers and team bosses and asked them to do another top job. They have delivered with flying colours as this year's batch includes Fernando Alonso's shot from the podium of the throngs of Tifosi swarming the grid at the Italian Grand Prix. Nico Rosberg has taken an arty shot of his face in the wing mirror of the 1938 W154 Mercedes which won the European Championship. Christian Horner's snap of his pet donkeys Bobby and Betsy; Lewis Hamilton's photo of the recently damaged Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio; and Raikkonen's perhaps symbolic shot of a lone tree sitting by a lake. You can see a selection here.
Zoom is the first ever auction of signed photos taken by the stars of any sport and is one of very few independent events in F1 which involves all of the drivers and team bosses. Not only have they come together by taking snaps but each has also given comments to Sylt about what is in the photo and why they took it. This year they have gone even further.
As an extension of the Zoom theme, camera manufacturer Nikon has provided a batch of its COOLPIX S9500 cameras which have been signed by some of F1's most famous champions including Alain Prost, John Surtees, Jacques Villeneuve, Vettel and Raikkonen. The photo above shows Raikkonen doing the honours at the Italian Grand Prix. Coming full circle, some of the photos were even taken on the cameras which were signed.
The cameras will also be auctioned in aid of Great Ormond Street at an event taking place on Friday in London's InterContinental Park Lane. It will be hosted by the BBC's F1 presenter Suzi Perry and many of the luminaries who have taken the photos are expected to be in attendance.
Like the previous edition, the new Zoom book contains an introduction written by Ecclestone and will be available in bookshops nationwide. The book is published by Vision Sports Publishing which releases the official Wimbledon annual and the International Rugby Board yearbook. It can be ordered online here.