Rainer W. Schlegelmilch probably the most famous Formula 1 photographer, beginning with his first race in 1962, shooting at Nürburgring, and his first Formula 1 race was the Grand Prix of Belgium 1962 at Spa-Francorchamps, the 1st of about 600 GP races he photograhed
Schlegelmilch's archive of about 600,000 photos was recently bought by LAT, adding to their 15 million F1 photo archive of negatives, color slides and digital photos from 1962 to 2016.
In Monza in 2011, Bernie Ecclestone honored Schlegelmilch with a lifetime permanent photographer accreditation - the first and only one.
Here is why:
In early 1990s F-1 started to change, and that was a considerable, visible change. Federation Internationale de L’Automobile (FIA) undertook an “inventory” of all the media that wrote about racing. Grand prix events henceforth could only be photographed by journalists with a FIA accreditation, they had to be staff photographers of a limited number of newspapers and magazines with no less than 270 published stories a year. As for me, I never worked for any media: I was making books, calendars. So they kicked me out.
Bernie Ecclestone, the irreplaceable F-1 manager and FOM president, on hearing that I had lost my accreditation, offered me to become his own photographer with a permanent FOM pass. Because I was always in sight and around and was taking my work very seriously. In that status I have been shooting F-1 for over 20 years.
Portraits are an important part of F-1 photography. But pilots nowadays are too young, and very few can boast of an interesting face, of a personality. In good old days racers were aged 30 to 50, and those were characters with life experience. They were charismatic, and their faces were very expressive.
Schlegelmilch has also published more than 40 books featuring his images starting with "Grand Prix - The Fascination of Formula 1 (1969-1993)" which sold more than 130,000 copies.