Ercole Colombo: the Formula 1 photographer

An incredible photographer, a very brave man.Ercole Colombo was born in Monza on November 18, 1944.His passion for racing, inherited from his father, together with his passion for photography led him to become one of the most esteemed Formula 1 photographers. In his long career he has created an archive with more than 5 million images, and his photos have been published in major Italian and foreign newspapers (I’ll list some of them: Gazzetta dello Sport, Corriere della Sera, La Stampa, Repubblica, Autosprint, Quattroruote, Sport Week, Tv Sorrisi e Canzoni, Specchio, Autobild, Auto Forum, l’Auto Journal, Autosport).But not only F1: from 1980 to 1992 he photographed the Ski World Cup, the Olympics in Sarajevo (1984) and Calgary (1988), the World Championships in Schladming (1982), Bormio (1985), Crans-Montana (1987) and Saalbach (1991).Here we will know him for what he is: historical memory of F1.During his career he has signed more than 30 books on the world of motorsport, including “Ferrari Campione del Mondo” (1975), “I Love Ferrari” (2009), “Wrooom 20th” (2010), “Wrooom” (2011), “Ayrton Senna l’ultima notte” (2016) e “Wow Gilles” (2017).
Of all the awards and honors we mention only four:In 1979 he won the prestigious Dino Ferrari Award with a photo of Jody Scheckter at Monte Carlo in the season in which he won the World Championship.In 1984 he was given the title of "F1 Photographer of the Year."In 2018 he joined the "Paddock Hall of Fame," which groups F1's most distinguished individuals.In 2020, he was appointed Knight of Merit of the Italian Republic.
His photos have been the stars of many exhibitions in Italy, Russia, the United States, China and Argentina.In an interview about his work he said, "You have to be curious to be a photographer, to capture the moments one considers important. A photo, if it's well shot, if it's perfect, needs no explanation and tells you what happened."And his photos have always been speaking. They tell us about a clean, fast and playful Formula 1.
"It is the image I love the most - says Colombo - almost stolen. Gilles was recovering from a severe accident at Imola, and Ferrari's gesture reveals a touching tenderness towards that little man with a big heart."
Of course, his greatest love (how can you blame him?) has always been Ferrari.For many years, he served as Enzo Ferrari's photographer, taking behind-the-scenes and racing photos with ins and outs. Since the Commendatore's death in 1988, Ercole Colombo has continued to provide the Scuderia with F1 Grand Prix images.In 2018 his image archive, the world's largest private collection of Ferrari images, was acquired by Motorsport Network and is now part of the Motorsport Images collection, along with the work of Rainer Schlegelmilch, LAT, Sutton Images and Giorgio Piola.
If asked what is the craziest thing he has ever done, he replies as follows:"Straddling a single-seater, tied at the waist by a rope, and taking pictures during tests. Crazy stuff thinking about it."He adds, "The last time I actually did it at Monza in Patrick Tambay's Renault. But that time, when we got to the Second of Lesmo, the driver forgot that I was on it too, and as soon as he came out of the corner, he stepped on the gas. I almost rolled over, I felt like I was in a rodeo, he noticed and nailed it, but at that point I ended up in front of him and we came face to face. Since then, I stopped."It was the 1980s, that's enough of an explanation, at that time we had children sleeping in cars in some kind of hammock.Apparently that's where they started designing Go Pros.
On March 2, the new 2024 Formula 1 world championship season will begin, how many of you are looking forward to it?We eagerly await the races and especially the photos of the great Ercole Colombo.
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