F1 photographer Mark Sutton picks his six favourite shots from the Singapore Grand Prix
Alonso’s track run
I’ve never seen Alonso run the track, ever. It reminded me a little of when Villeneuve ran the track on his debut in 1996, which you can see alongside it. It was just bizarre; I was on the circuit late at night on the Thursday when everyone does all the track walks and I just caught this glimpse out of the corner of my eye, saw somebody in green and thought “who the hell is that?” The little entourage he had with him made him stand out too – a couple of trainers and friends with him – and it was all a bit weird. It reminded me of 96 in Australia and Villeneuve was running his track without his top on and he was bulked up. It was like he’d been in the gym over the winter since winning in IndyCar. It was like a statement of intent, and I wonder if that’s what this was from Fernando, because I’ve never seen him run the track before. Rosberg runs it, Trulli and Chandhok cycle it; you get used to who does what, but I’ve never seen Alonso running.
Vettel wets the kerbs
I feel like you can get your best pictures away from the racing. I enjoy the non-racing pictures because I think they bring a bit more life to Formula One and bring a bit more of an insight to what’s going on. There was a lot going on on Thursday, and I was literally about to go back to the pits when Vettel came out of the garage, jumped over the wall on to the circuit and headed down to the first corner. He always carries a bottle of water and he started emptying this water out on to the kerbs to see how slippery it was. Obviously being a street circuit the kerbs have to be repainted each year, and they’re supposed to paint it with a special grippy paint that has some grit in it, so he was just checking if it would give grip. It really shows the attention to detail that Sebastian has as he closes in on the title.
I know it’s another Alonso shot but it was just so funny. We were working for the organisers in Singapore so I’d been invited to do the autograph signings, so they wanted pictures of all the drivers. It was upstairs in a hospitality room, and at one point Barrichello was in there along with Maldonado and the two Ferrari drivers; there was a line of drivers in there. Fernando decided to leave, and as he walked past he picked up a card of Rubens’ face that had been signed, picked it up off the table, kissed it and held it to his chest as he went out! It was all a joke a bit like he is his hero, and Rubens saw all this as a joke and laughed. I missed the kissing bit which would have been a great photo, but I got the one of him walking out with a slow shutter speed. You wouldn’t know what that was unless I told you the story, but a lot of them were messing about in there, drawing beards on faces and joking around, it was quite a humorous atmosphere.
He was the only marshal who was dressed up and obviously he wanted to be photographed! His sign says ‘Need trackside excitement? Press F1 for help’. He certainly got his photograph taken; this was during the drivers’ parade, and he was at the front of the parade group so that the TV cameras were all over him and the photographers were all over him. It was quite funny, it’s good to see a bit of colour and humour around the track. At the end of the day some of these guys don’t get to do a lot if they’re in the wrong position on the track, and he was stationed at the last corner so he was probably bored out of his brains because nothing happened there! It’s amazing how certain photographs react to Formula One with painted faces and flags and hats, but Singapore hasn’t totally switched on to it yet in terms of the way other countries do it, so it was nice to see someone having a bit of fun to be perfectly honest. He just needed to be photographed.
This was before qualifying, and the lead singer of Linkin Park – Chester Bennington – was there meeting the Force India team, because they’re huge in India and were playing after the race. All of a sudden Kobayashi comes over and he’s almost bowing in front of this guy, this is his hero, it was a bizarre moment! He was asking him “What are you doing here? I love your music! I really wish I could come and see you but I don’t think I’ll be able to because the race will be going on.” The problem was they were starting at half 10, and the race didn’t finish until ten o’clock, but he said “I’ll try and make it but it’ll only be if I crash out!” And then Kobayashi went and crashed in qualifying so it was quite funny! But then he said, “If I can’t make the concert why don’t you come to the party, we’ll probably be going to the Amber Lounge?” And Chester said “No, I don’t party anymore.” Kobayashi asked him “Why not, you’re a rocker?” and he replied “I’ve got four kids and twins on the way; I’m a family man I don’t go out partying anymore!” That just made it all even funnier, because Kobayashi was in awe of this guy because they’re big in Japan too.
The start is great, but the only problem that happened with the start as you can see is that the electronic board wasn’t on. It’s a rotating electronic board and at this precise moment as the cars are coming down to the first corner it’s on rotation and missed the ‘Visit Singapore’ sign. As you can see Vettel had an amazing start as always, and the rest of the pack just filed in behind. He flew away from there, and I was wondering what I was doing at the first corner because there was no overtaking, but as the race progressed a few people did go for it on the inside in to turn one. This photo shows there’s plenty of room to try and overtake, but there was no incident this year unfortunately! I was there for the whole race really because if you move something’s bound to happen – you can’t go chasing it – I only moved for the final ten laps; it’s really easy to move around as there’s a five foot gap as a walkway all the way around the outside of the circuit. It’s really well organised, the race is not only a fantastic spectacle it’s also a great overall event.