While regular readers of Pitpass will be aware that the editor is a 'cat person', you might well be wondering why there is a picture of two dogs accompanying this article.
Fact is; the dogs are Mark Webber's. Shadow, the silver-haired one, is a Weimaraner whilst Simba is a Rhodesian Ridgeback, a hunting dog originally bred in South Africa.
Webber often talks about his dogs and back in 2009 he revealed that Simba had been running around his Buckinghamshire house so fast that he hit his cleaning lady and broke her leg. Then, just last month at the British Grand Prix post-race press conference, Webber said "this morning I took the dogs for a run. The good thing about going home to them is that they don't know if I've had a crap day or a good day, they're always happy to see me."
However, although Webber's dogs are no secret, you won't find many pictures of them and the one above is particularly special since the Red Bull racing driver took it himself. The picture is part of a unique charity initiative called Zoom which is an auction of signed photos taken by every current Formula One driver and team principal as well as other leading lights in the sport.
Zoom is the brainchild of Pitpass' business editor Christian Sylt and the idea came to him when he realised that although there are many charity auctions in F1, they tend to be traditional with the usual items for sale being signed helmets, overalls or pictures of the drivers. Sylt thought it would be far more interesting to put up for auction signed pictures taken by the drivers and team principals themselves and he approached Bernie Ecclestone with the idea. Ecclestone has given Zoom his full support and says it "is a super idea. It will hopefully raise a lot of money for the hospital and the teams will get coverage."
Next to get involved was the renowned Great Ormond Street Hospital Children's Charity, which is the official charity of the British Grand Prix. Leading auctioneer Coys agreed to take care of the auction whilst all the sport-related logistics are being handled by Sylt's Formula Money consultancy firm and Influence, the top F1 communications and marketing agency. Influence is run by Alistair Watkins, son of the FIA's former medical delegate Sid Watkins, and Stuart Dyble, former vice president of communications for Ford's Premier Automotive Group. They have pulled off a remarkable coup with Zoom as it is the first ever auction of pictures taken by the stars of any sport.
"This is a unique concept that has never been seen before in the field of sport and we expect the value of the photographs will reflect that," says Chris Routledge, managing director of Coys. Pitpass is a media partner of Zoom and having seen all the pictures you can take our word for it that the content is diverse.
Using his close contacts with the teams, Sylt has managed to get pictures which give a glimpse into the personal lives of F1's superstar personalities and they do it in a way fans can easily relate to as we have all taken pictures of our pets or snaps on holiday.
"The images give real insight into the drivers' personalities and we're really looking forward to the auction," says Antonia Dalmahoy, director of corporate partnerships for Great Ormond Street adding "we are delighted to be the chosen beneficiary of the Zoom auction and would like to thank everyone who has taken a photograph."
All the pictures have been taken by the drivers and team principals and they are in the process of being signed in advance of a live auction on 14 September in the plush Wyndham Grand Hotel in Chelsea with all proceeds going to Great Ormond Street.
In addition to Webber's picture, three of the other Zoom images have already been publicly released. They include Lewis Hamilton's driver's eye view sitting in his McLaren in the pits, a picture from one of Sebastian Vettel's skiing trips to Austria and Bruno Senna's view from his family beach house near Rio.
The others range from shots of the pits and grid girls to unusual and very arty images of waterfalls, mountains, vineyards, quad bikes and even a few tractors for good measure. There is a story behind each photo and Sylt has managed to get all of the drivers and team principals to provide an explanation of what they took and why they took it.
As Pitpass is a Zoom media partner we can provide readers with unparalleled access to the images. How would you like to see the view from the living room window of Peter Sauber's cottage in Switzerland or maybe an Andalusian palace taken by Jaime Alguersuari? Or what about Stefano Domenicali's view of Fernando Alonso mountain-biking? Since Zoom has pictures from every current F1 driver and team principal all you have to do is email firstname.lastname@example.org by 26 August with the name of the person whose picture you would like to see and we will publish the image taken by whoever gets the most votes.
Zoom is set to be an annual fixture so we can look forward to further peeks into the lives of F1 drivers and Great Ormond Street can look forward to regular income from the event. The organisers are planning to branch the concept out to other sports but, as is often the case, F1 is leading the way. To get news on the pictures and developments with Zoom follow it at Twitter (https://twitter.com/ZoomAuction) and Facebook.
Check out our gallery, here.