‘I was preparing myself to see a big shunt’

Mark Sutton in the Hungaroring paddock © Sutton Images

We’ve just had back-to-back grands prix and for me the stand-out moments of both were in the press conferences. In Germany we had the Ferrari drivers grilled over team orders and in Hungary there was a real insight into the psychology of the Red Bull pair.

I always find the press conferences fascinating and this week the contrast between the post-qualifying and post-race sessions was remarkable. On Saturday Mark Webber had been comprehensively beaten by team-mate Sebastian Vettel and he was clearly downhearted and had his mind elsewhere.

He kept knocking his nose against the microphone and twiddling his thumbs, he wasn’t his usual self. The stress must have been getting to him because he had been beaten by 0.4 seconds and Hungary was always going to be a vital battle between Vettel and Webber. Just like I said in my column last week, it would have been a psychologist’s dream.

Of course on Sunday Vettel lost out to Webber and his body language was far more exaggerated. He was clearly miserable and at one point sat there with his head in his hands. He was really wearing his heart on his sleeve and it made for great photos. It was also intensely hot in there, uncomfortably so, and that just seemed to heighten his irritation.

Sebastian Vettel puts his head in his hands © Sutton Images

As Webber was talking about how happy he was with the way the race had panned out, Vettel was squirming in his seat and clearly didn’t want to be there. When the questions came to him he was gesticulating with his hands, trying to make his point, which is something he doesn’t usually feel the need to do. At the time he hadn’t even talked through the incident with his team, and I’m not sure he understood the exact reason for the penalty – he was totally devastated by what had happened over the past two hours.On the podium he just picked up the trophy, held it aloft for a second and then put it back down, all the while with a frown across his face. It was as if third place simply didn’t mean anything to him. He was really throwing his toys out of the pram.

After the press conference, Red Bull delayed its paddock celebration shot by about 20 minutes while the drivers had a debrief. So there was obviously plenty of stuff for them to talk about after the race and maybe a bit of explaining to do to Vettel. When they did come out Vettel took a back seat in all the champagne spraying and was right at the edge of the team photo. But, of course, it was Mark’s day.

Mark Sutton’s sequence of photos at the Hungarian Grand Prix © Sutton Images

The other major talking point after the race was Michael Schumacher pushing Rubens Barrichello right up against the pit wall. I was down at the first corner for the entire race and decided to stay there because I saw a number of battles developing between Tonio Liuzzi and Sebastien Buemi, Vettel and Fernando Alonso and Schumacher and Barrichello. I thought that one of them was bound to kick off, but I also had to keep an eye on how many laps of the race were left as I was due to take some photos of the podium afterwards. It was with about six to go that Barrichello started to put the pressure on and I decided I had to stay put.Five laps from the end I could see on the big screen that he was preparing to make his move. As they came into view I started firing off the shots and was preparing myself for a big shunt. It’s amazing how close he got to the wall and you can probably get a better idea of the distance from my photos than on TV, because I was positioned head-on.

It was a great sequence of shots and as far as I know nobody else got them. Afterwards someone wrote on my Facebook page that I should have gone to see if there were any tyre marks on the wall but it took so long to run to the podium and then to the press conference that I didn’t have time.

The man in blue © Sutton Images

So it was more exciting than some of the races we have seen at the Hungaroring in the past, and the on-track action was matched by a good crowd. You get lots of different nationalities there, with people coming from Poland, Scandinavia and a fair few from Britain. We do photos for a Polish Porsche Supercup team and they were getting huge cheers from their fans when they were on the grid. You don’t usually get that for the support races and that goes to show how enthusiastic the people are.I went out into the crowd for some atmosphere shots and it was a real party out there, with goulash and all sorts being sold up on the hill. The grandstands are still quite expensive so a lot of people opt for general admission and sit on the banks around the circuit. Probably the weirdest thing I saw all weekend was a guy in a blue all-in-one Spiderman suit.

It’s a great photo because the rest of the crowd is just looking at him like he’s a nutter and I guess he must have just slipped it out of his bag and put it on over his clothes. There’s things like that going on all the time and it really adds to the atmosphere. It was certainly a big improvement on Germany a week before.


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