Night Fever

F1 photographer Mark Sutton picks his six favourite shots from the Singapore Grand Prix


Alonso’s track run

First photo: Camera Model: Canon EOS-1D Mark IV | Lens: 16-35 mm zoom | Exposure: 1/320 Sec | Aperture: 4.0 © Sutton Images


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

Bottom right image: Camera Model: Canon EOS-1D Mark IV | Lens: 16-35mm | Exposure: 1/320 Sec | Aperture: 4.0 © Sutton Images

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.



Fernando’s crush

Camera Model: Canon EOS-1D Mark IV | Lens: 16-35 mm | Exposure: 1/15 Sec | Aperture: 5.0 © Sutton Images


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.


Marshal madness

Second photo: Camera Model: Canon EOS-1D Mark III | Lens: 16-35 mm | Exposure: 1/320 Sec | Aperture: 6.3 © Sutton Images


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.


Starstruck Kobayashi

Camera Model: Canon EOS-1D Mark III | Lens: 16-35 mm | Exposure: 1/60 Sec | Aperture: 10.0 © Sutton Images


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.


Lights out

Camera Model: Canon EOS-1D Mark IV | Lens: 70-200 mm | Exposure: 1/640 Sec | Aperture: 4.0 © Sutton Images


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.


A weekend of Tifosi and tyres

F1 photographer Mark Sutton picks his six favourite shots from the Italian Grand Prix


Alonso’s signing session

First photo: Camera Model: Canon EOS-5D Mark II | Lens: 16-40 mm zoom | Exposure: 1/500 Sec | Aperture: 7.1 © Sutton Images


It was carnage, absolutely crazy, it was about 15 deep there and it was actually quite dangerous at one point. What I’ve done here is just held the camera in the air, I’m not on a ladder or very tall! I just prefocused it and then held it up, which gives more of an atmospheric picture. It’s great that spectators with the three day tickets are allowed in on the Thursday, which I can’t believe they don’t do at Silverstone to be perfectly honest. If they’ve bought a ticket for three days, why don’t they have an autograph signing on the Thursday and let people in to see the pits? It works well at quite a lot of tracks; a lot of European tracks do it on the Thursday, and it’s great that they do it at Monza. The Tifosi are obviously fanatical about Ferrari and with Fernando they were just going mental, so this shot just shows the atmosphere of the circuit all weekend.


Webber retires

Bottom right image: Camera Model: Canon EOS-1D Mark IV | Lens: 16-35mm | Exposure: 1/125 Sec | Aperture: 14.0 © Sutton Images


All these shots are handheld as I’d lost my monopod while I was there, which made it a bit tougher for me. What we try and do as an agency is spread everything around, not everyone’s at the first corner every race. If I was on my own I would probably be at the first corner every race, but I’m not and to be perfectly honest I don’t want to be because I think it becomes a little bit stale. So in some races like in Valencia, here and some other tracks I’ll make a commitment to go somewhere else and do my bit because I don’t mind other people taking the plaudits if there’s a crash. I like Parabolica so I did the grid and then walked down the track, taking some shots of the fans as I went. During the race I had my Kangaroo TV on and I saw Webber run in to the back of Massa, so I was just focussing down the straight at Webber with his broken wing and all of a sudden he locked up, went across the gravel and in to the barrier. I ran down from the tower to this gap I thought he’d come through, but he went back to the last corner and was leant against this truck that was there. It’s quite a nice picture because he’s watching the race but you can see in the background his car being lifted away.


Fabio and Bernie

Camera Model: Canon EOS-1D Mark IV | Lens: 16-35 mm | Exposure: 1/300 Sec | Aperture: 6.3 © Sutton Images


I like this shot of Fabio Capello because we had to pose him up for this one. They were chatting beforehand and the funny thing was Capello had a pass already, and then Bernie gave him a permanent pass! I don’t know why he wants a permanent pass but it’s quite nice to have one. I think the idea was if he wants to come to any more races he’s all sorted now, and basically he just had a look at the races and he said to Bernie “I might come to Singapore”, because I think there’s a gap before the next England game. So in theory he won’t have to apply for a pass now he can just use that one. I didn’t know he was coming to be honest but we managed to sneak in to Bernie’s motorhome and do a posed up shot, which was great. This is more of a hospitality motorhome for Bernie, while he has a newer one which is more for the business meetings.


Painting tyres

Second photo: Camera Model: Canon EOS-1D Mark IV | Lens: 17-40 mm | Exposure: 1/250 Sec | Aperture: 4.0 © Sutton Images


This is Mark Dickens who’s raising a load of money for charity. Basically what he got five of the drivers to do is paint the tyres and then roll them up and down this piece of paper that Pirelli had organised. As you can see Kobayashi was spinning it round, so it was quite funny, and then they signed it afterwards and they’re going to auction it off for charity. This guy’s actually going to be doing a set of paintings from the grands prix as well, so he’s coming to every race this year and he’s going to be doing his own interpretation of each race in one picture, whether it’s podium, or certain things about the circuit, so he’s not just doing this. Kobayashi, Webber, Trulli, Glock and Barrichello all rolled tyres in different directions so it should raise some money for charity, which is good.


Studious Hamilton

Camera Model: Canon EOS-1D Mark IV | Lens: 500 mm telephoto | Exposure: 1/3200 Sec | Aperture: 4.0 © Sutton Images


You rarely see the drivers on the pit wall, even now, because they rarely get out of the cars. Especially in the early part of the year they have so much to do on a Friday that they’re always in the car, but in Monza it seemed that a lot of them either had problems or had the setup correct and didn’t need to do any more laps. So certainly on the Friday here Lewis got out and sat on the pit wall. What’s lovely is that the sun has just come over the top of the garages and has just lit the top of the pit wall. As you can see there’s a shadow, so this was very early in the morning and he was on there for about 15 minutes. It made for a nice picture with the really moody, contrasting light, that sort of set against the black background of the mechanics and the pit wall. Luckily Lewis has his white clothing on and it’s lit up really well. He’s contemplating what’s going on and has got his fingers in his ears because he doesn’t have his earplugs with him and the pit lane is a very noisy place!


Tide of Tifosi

Camera Model: Canon EOS-1D Mark IV | Lens: 16-35 mm | Exposure: 1/640 Sec | Aperture: 6.3 © Sutton Images


I think I spoke about it last year, but I love this atmosphere and the fact that they get this massive flag out before all of the cars are in the pit lane. It comes out of a bag and you just see them unravel it before everyone goes on the track; it is quite rehearsed, but it works really well. The only bad thing this year was that there were a lot of flags that got in the way of the podium, so when you’re stood where I was then and you’re trying to shoot the podium the flags start to get in the bloody way! So it’s not good, but there’s not a lot you can do as a photographer about that, and it creates a great atmosphere. I love the fact that they’re allowed to go on the circuit afterwards, and it’s become an iconic picture now of Monza, even though it’s a new podium. They’ve always invaded the track there, I remember back in the 80s when the old podium was at the other end of the straight and they did it then too. You get another great set of pictures when the drivers leave the podium too, because then the cameramen are allowed back on to take shots and the crowd just go mental, waving and cheering at them.

Schumacher’s party and Button’s recovery

F1 photographer Mark Sutton picks his six favourite shots from the Belgian Grand Prix


Schumi’s celebrations

First photo: Camera Model: Canon EOS-1D Mark IV | Lens: 16-35 mm @21 mm | Exposure: 1/60 Sec | Aperture: 5.0 © Sutton Images


These were the gear ratios from the 191 which Michael ran in his first race because Gachot was in jail! Michael was brought in with the help of Norbert Haug – who was there and almost tearful – as one of his protégés. So it was his celebration and all of the drivers showed up, and in the second picture he’d just opened this keg of beer and given them all a glass, and no-one else was bothering to have a swig while Michael did! The Eddie situation was funny because they’d done all the other presentations but Eddie was hanging in the wings with his gear ratios knowing that he’d get one over everyone else and have his little piece on TV. I saw Eddie come in with a TV crew and thought I’d pick my cameras up again – because it wasn’t really a photo night – probably because they didn’t want shots of Michael getting drunk! Which was fine, everyone was having a few swigs but they probably didn’t drink as much as Michael drank; he was on the keg serving all night. It was obviously Michael’s weekend; everyone cheered him as he finished the race and having qualified fifth here at his first race he finished fifth on his 20th anniversary.


Shell girls

Camera Model: Canon EOS-1D Mark IV | Lens: 16-35mm | Exposure: 1/320 Sec | Aperture: 9.0 © Sutton Images


The girls were just wandering through the paddock and I just thought it would be a good opportunity to get some shots of them, because we normally get them on the grid and it gets a bit samey having them standing alone with their car number. They were coming down the stairs and we stopped the people in charge and asked if we could do a little shoot. The guy who had specially designed these outfits for Shell was there and it was a good opportunity there because we got the reflection off the Ferrari truck and the outfits were quite sexy. I must admit that, looking at some of the outfits we normally get, they can be quite boring and not very sexy. If you’ve got nice looking girls with nice bodies you want an outfit that makes them look good, not one that makes them look worse! The girls were happy to smile and pose in their outfits and Shell got a lot of coverage. It was nice to get them all in a row, and that meant loads of cameramen were snapping away and I was sort of in charge of it all, telling them what to do, how to pose and where to look! The shot looking down on them was from the stairs going up to the pit building level, which made it a bit cleaner, and created a nice gallery of girl pictures which we always love to take.


Bernie alone

First photo: Camera Model: Canon EOS-1D Mark IV | Lens: 16-35 mm | Exposure: 1/250 Sec | Aperture: 10.0 © Sutton Images


Bernie looks quite lost here – I’m not sure what or who he was looking for – but it was nice to get a shot of him on his own. We did the picture on the front of his biography which is quite similar in terms of the structure of the picture being a portrait. He was escorting Eric Clapton up and down the grid, and he seemed to be looking for someone on the grid but couldn’t find them so he turned back. He went over to see Alguersuari because he’d qualified so well, but he doesn’t normally go too far down the grid so that’s about as far as he got. He wandered up and down with Eric, who was getting his photo taken with everyone because everyone knew who he was and he’s such an approachable guy. Bernie had only just come back from his daughter Petra’s wedding, but he looks quite sprightly so obviously didn’t drink too much! Although obviously spent a lot of money being the father of the bride!


Button and Perez

Camera Model: Canon EOS-1D Mark IV | Lens: 500 mm | Exposure: 1/640 Sec | Aperture: 7.1 © Sutton Images


I quite like this rear shot, which is quite interesting because Button had to come through the field. Having listened to him in the press conference, you could just tell that he loved the race, the start in particular he said was quite exciting, and having to come through from so far back kind of made the race. Jenson was pushing quite hard through the field and here he’s battling with Perez having come round the outside of La Source. They’re side by side, and he’s kept the power on out of the hairpin. This is a bit different because it’s from behind and he’s out so wide – you think he’d lose grip on the kerb but obviously not – the momentum has taken him out wider and it’s a natural move without using DRS. It’s nice to see drivers battling it out, and you can see all of the other cars ahead of him too who he still has to clear, which was the story of his race; full of exciting overtaking coming through from the back.


McLaren nose

Camera Model: Canon EOS-1D Mark IV | Lens: 500 mm | Exposure: 1/1000 Sec | Aperture: 4.0 © Sutton Images


I think this shot sums up the weekend really. It’s shot on a 600mm lens, and you get the reflection of the Mercedes silver on a really nice black background, so it lights up. It was a bizarre weekend of weather; you had rain at one point and then sunshine and then a rainbow, it was a real odd mixture. I ended up one day going back to the hotel with sunburn! I was thinking how the hell did I get that?! But at this point the rain has fallen and the teams have left their nosecones out. It’s not actually on the car it’s on a stand, but what you find is that the teams clean the cars with a polish, and that tends to leave droplets like this, which is lovely. You wouldn’t get that normally with an unwashed car, but obviously the mechanics are there to keep the car clean and make sure the sponsors are happy, and in this case it’s the Mercedes logo. You’ve got to consider the depth of focus, when you’re shooting on a long lens – and it’s a telephoto lens – then you can shoot with very little depth of focus. So I reduced the aperture to 4, which will give you very little depth of focus. As you can see the star of the Mercedes is the sharpest point, but the sides are starting to fade already, and it knocks the background out. It’s a lovely way to shoot.


Podium drinks

Camera Model: Canon EOS-1D Mark III | Lens: 500 mm | Exposure: 1/800 Sec | Aperture: 9.0 © Sutton Images


I know these guys have been on the podium quite a lot but they were clinking bottles almost like it was a ritual, ‘Here we are again, let’s have a toast!’ It was quite a funny moment; they’d all had a swig of champagne already, and they all sort of clinked the champagne bottles like a ‘cheers’ sort of thing. Vettel and Button seem pleased with themselves, but Webber seems to be realising that he should have won. He was quite animated in the press conference, and he probably should have won if it wasn’t for the poor start which cost him his chance. Button and Vettel do seem to get on, they’re stood close and facing Webber here, and in the press conference they were talking all the time. It was amazing how much they were chatting while Webber was talking. Button seems quite confident and proud, and he seems to have quite a rapport with Vettel which is evident here after the championship leader had chalked up another win.