Brazilian Goodbyes

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


Massa’s massive cake

Model: Canon EOS-1D Mark IV | Aperture: 3.2 | Lens: 70-200mm zoom | Exposure: 1/320 sec © Sutton Images


This was to celebrate Massa’s ten years in Formula One and 100 races for Ferrari. Quite a few drivers turned up: Barrichello, Alonso, Schumacher turned up, quite a few Sauber people turned up too because his whole career has been just Sauber and Ferrari. It was a massive cake, absolutely massive, with loads of cars and logos on it. His wife was there with their little boy, and his parents and everyone clapped him when he arrived, it was really nice. This was on the Saturday night after qualifying and then Ferrari gave him an engine cover signed by all the team and the drivers which was a nice little surprise for him.



Model: Canon EOS-1D Mark IV | Aperture: 4.5 | Lens: 16-35mm zoom | Exposure: 1/125 sec © Sutton Images


I know I’ve mentioned this before but this photo just displays the number of people getting involved in running the track. For every person who submits their time for running a lap, UBS donates money to the Make A Wish Foundation, and the total passed $190,000 at Interlagos. There was at least 100 people there doing this run, and there’s also some competition too as you post your times online. Out technician – Matthew Kingston-Lee – is a very quick runner and he’s won every race except Monaco, which unfortunately he didn’t run because it was too dangerous and he didn’t have time before the sessions. This was one of the group runs, which I’ve done this year because they donate $300 per person. I’ve been encouraged to do them all next year but I’m not exactly fit for it! At the start we were all lined up and Keith stood 50 metres down the straight to get a shot but I ran at him really fast and burnt myself out immediately! But there’s great camaraderie; I came in second last but they all stayed to cheer me in – I wasn’t worried about the time it was all about getting the charity money. We even won the team championship, but it’s more an individual thing that even team members like Ciaron Pilbeam do and it’s for a great cause.


Hamilton and Massa

Model: Canon EOS-1D Mark III | Aperture: 6.3 | Lens: 16-35mm zoom | Exposure: 1/300 sec © Sutton Images


I was really lucky to get this shot. I had gone in to the paddock to do the Red Bull team celebration shot, and all of a sudden I saw Lewis go over to him so I just went in there with my camera – bang bang bang – three frames and that was all I got. This is the first frame I got of them hugging, and I don’t think anybody else got it. I saw it happen, I got something of it, you can see there’s some contact and a bit of a smile between the two of them; it’s the perfect picture as far as I’m concerned. The hug would have been nice – it’s sort of half a hug – but I don’t think anyone else got anything. Felipe was literally doing interviews for the Brazilian media, and the door on the left is McLaren so Lewis literally just popped in and shook hands whispered “sorry” or something like that in his ear, and it’s a nice shot. It really tells a story. I was lucky to get it to be honest, and it’s cropped up, it’s literally a frame out of nothing. If you think there’s 70 photographers in F1 you’re lucky to get an exclusive nowadays but that is certainly an exclusive and it ends the feud of the season.


Brazilian podium

Model: Canon EOS-1D Mark III | Aperture: 10.0 | Lens: 16-35mm zoom | Exposure: 1/500 sec © Sutton Images


The podium’s really set back in Brazil, and it’s such a big podium that they split it and you literally walk through the podium. It’s the only podium where they do that because you normally come round the side of it. That caught a lot of people out, so when Webber did his jump he did it almost immediately and people weren’t ready! This is basically after the presentations, they light the podium to lift the shadows and then they spray all this tickertape in to the air before starting some music. It just creates a great atmosphere as the podium’s going on, and you can see all the people’s hands going up in the air as the champagne is sprayed. You’ve also got the lovely blue sky in the background and parc ferme down below where the cars are, so it creates a really atmospheric picture as I would call it. We’re well stationed in Brazil on huge platforms and it was just a perfect end to the season.


Schumacher’s shredded tyre

Model: Canon EOS-1D Mark IV | Aperture: 9.0 | Lens: 600mm telephoto | Exposure: 1/640 sec © Sutton Images

I really like this shot because they tyre is just shredded to bits. Our guy was on the back straight and he had a shot of it when the tyre was still intact, so he’s done a complete lap on it and it’s almost fallen off here. It’s amazing he didn’t damage the suspension like Vettel did in Abu Dhabi. I was at the hairpin and he came round with it flapping away, and he was going quite slowly so I was able to just motor-drive it as he came in. I always go on about it but it was so good that I had the Fanvision available to me. There are no screens in Brazil and obviously no commentary for us so I just use it to listen to the 5Live commentary, and I heard “Schumacher and Bruno Senna clash at the first corner, but Schumacher continues…” so I took it out of my pocket and could just follow him round the circuit. That meant I knew which lens to have and be fully prepared. No other photographer has one as far as I know so it gives me a little bit of an edge. 


Celebrating champions

Model: Canon EOS-1D Mark IV | Aperture: 4.0 | Lens: 70-200mm zoom | Exposure: 1/320 sec © Sutton Images

What happened here was Red Bull decided to do something different rather than do the celebration shot in front of the garage, and the podium was the perfect place. They even got the lights put back on which was pretty amazing, and there was plenty of tickertape left from the podium ceremony so they just scooped it up and through it in the air in celebration. We just went back on the photographers towers and the whole team was up there, so it was pretty perfect. What this does is it gives you a team picture. It’s all about teamwork at the end of the day, it’s not just the drivers that win the championships it’s the mechanics and engineers, catering staff, management, Renault; it’s about everyone who’s involved in the team at the end of the day. There will be an event in Milton Keynes to celebrate the factory people next month, but I know that a lot of the teams have already got their 2012 chassis built and they’re now building parts for next season. It’s been such a long season but it just doesn’t stop. They’ll be manufacturing parts during December, have the cars put together in January and launched ahead of testing in February. It just doesn’t stop!


Yas Wonderland

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


Middle Eastern Monaco

© Sutton Images


The roof of the Yas Hotel makes for great photos and is continually changing colour. I was actually lucky enough to stay in that hotel for the Young Driver Test because they reduced the prices. It’s 5/6* so it’s very nice and staying there gave me the chance to get a closer look at the roof. Those patterns are created by a light shining on a glass panel, so it’s not the panels that light up themselves – more of a projection. After the race they put the chequered flag on it and later on they projected the UAE flag up there, which was a nice touch. You can also see the boats in the harbour, although it didn’t take long for those to clear out after the race!


Button’s Movember moustache

© Sutton Images


I didn’t really notice Jenson Button’s new moustache to start with, because it’s quite fair and a similar colour to his skin. I was trying to get some shots in the pits but you couldn’t really see it! So it was great when he actually pointed to it after qualifying and then Sebastian Vettel joined in. It’s good to see because it’s part of Movember, which I’m also taking part in, and it’s all raising money for charity. It’s going to be funny to see how much bushier it is in Brazil and if it’s got any darker. It’s nice to see a bit of humour among the drivers and Button and Vettel are always sharing jokes in press conferences, so it was no surprise to see them getting on well.


Rosberg and Mercedes

© Sutton Images


Obviously Nico signed a new deal with Mercedes ahead of the race, but I stumbled upon this photo opportunity by mistake. I just happened to be around the back of the paddock and I saw a TV crew with him and he’d made this Mercedes star with some sand. It was a good opportunity to get some photos and he was quite open to me taking shots while they were filming. In fact, he asked if he could have a look at my photos because he didn’t want to look an idiot! But I think he liked what he saw and we carried on with a few more shots. It’s always good to take the opportunity to build up a bit of a rapport with the drivers and to show them what I do. It’s important, too, because these are the guys we have to work with and you get much better photos if they appreciate what we do.


Action for road safety

© Sutton Images

This photo was taken with all the media staff from the circuit who were supporting an FIA road safety campaign. Once again you can see the Yas Hotel in the background and this was actually taken just outside our photographers’ room in the paddock. They were trying to get some publicity for the campaign because there have been a lot of problems out in the UAE with people speeding, drink driving and a lot of crashes. From my experience people tend to drive very fast and do not take into account the braking distances. But it’s all about creating awareness and the FIA is involved in similar projects all over the world – NCAP ratings were set up by the FIA and have had a big difference. Formula One can promote these initiatives and the drivers are always behind them so it’s just about getting the message out there.



Back on top

© Sutton Images

Lewis Hamilton’s pose reminds me of the Cristo Redentor statue in Rio de Janeiro. It’s almost like he was saying ‘what do you think?’ I took this from the Paddock Club and it’s got a nice clean background with the blue painted tarmac in parc ferme. It shows the celebration, it shows emotion and it was just before he jumped over the barrier and ran to celebrate with his mum, who he dedicated the win to. It was so nice to see the support from his family at the circuit and it was clear that it meant a lot to him.



Mother’s boy

© Sutton Images

This leads on from the last shot but was taken after the podium celebration and press conference. Originally this shot was just going to be of the team doing the usual three cheers, but then Lewis’ mum turned up and we had to do it all over again. Everyone sat down in their places once more and we did the same celebration shot five times in the end – so if you didn’t get a picture from that, you had no-one to blame but yourself. Normally I don’t think they’d bother if someone was missing from the photo, but because it was his mum everybody was very happy to go through it all again.

Life Thru The Lens – A Postcard From India

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


A taste of India

Top left – Camera: Canon EOS-1D Mark IV | Lens: 16-35mm Zoom | Shutter speed: 1/50 Sec | Aperture: 3.5 © Sutton Images

These three photos give you an idea of what India looked like away from Formula One, although the picture of the woman by the lake was actually taken inside the circuit! The spice market in Delhi (top left) was a fantastic place that just came alive in the evening and offered up photo opportunities that were too good to miss. The place was just packed out with people and the smells were so strong that they were almost burning your eyes and the back of your throat. The cows were actually spotted just outside the circuit and are a typical sight on India’s roadsides. You can see that they’re quite thin and they were grazing on this patchy piece of grass by the offramp of the main motorway that leads you to the circuit. I took the photo of the woman on Wednesday evening after viewing the track for the first time and doing our usual recce to find some good positions for photographs. She was actually taking bowls of water from the lake in the centre of the circuit to put on the plants – why they didn’t just get a hose pipe I don’t know! As you can see it was a lovely day on the Wednesday, but by the time the cars got on track over the weekend there was a lot more smog which didn’t really help our photos.


Teething problems

Top photo – Camera: Canon EOS-1D Mark IV | Lens: 16-35mm Zoom | Shutter speed: 1/500 Sec | Aperture: 11 © Sutton Images

Having done my recce on Wednesday, I did another lap of the track on Thursday. What we do as photographers is go round the wrong way when we first get there in order to see the best photo opportunities of the cars coming towards us. But on Thursday I was walking the correct way round as I was following FIA race director Charlie Whiting on his circuit inspection. What we do is pick the spots where we want to take photos from on our first recce and then we ask for the approval from Charlie to cut the holes in the catch fencing. At this point he’s checking a kerb that was too high and they had to grind the concrete down to the right height – as they did in Korea last year. The Pirelli sign was also quite funny because we spotted that they’d misspelt it on Wednesday and then told them so they could change it. But that was actually how they were going to leave it after Wednesday and it just shows how easy it is to make a mistake if you’re doing something in a rush.


Ferrari’s flexi-wing

Camera: Canon EOS-1D Mark IV | Lens: 600mm Telephoto | Shutter speed: 1/800 Sec | Aperture: 9.0 © Sutton Images

The flexing wing on the Ferrari was an interesting story. I’d seen the flexing wing on the TV on Friday and I thought they’d try it again on Saturday so I went out to the end of the long straight with this shot in mind. I chose this angle because, despite the heat haze, you get a great mirage effect off the surface of the circuit – almost like seeing two wings. It was really flexing and you can see the sparks coming off the end plates. The other reason I chose the head-on angle is because you can see the hills along the straight. Someone said the only reason they had the hills was because they were building tunnels underneath and they just built the track over the top! I’m not sure if that was actually the case but it’s quite a funny story.


The start of something special

Camera: Canon EOS-1D Mark III | Lens: 16-35mm Zoom | Shutter speed: 1/300 Sec | Aperture: 8.0 © Sutton Images

In this picture you can see the circuit organiser Samir Gaur as he cheered the cars out of the pit lane in first practice. It was funny because he missed the first few cars but he got down there for Vitaly Petrov and Michael Schumacher going out. Sebastian Vettel actually stalled his car as he went out for the first time and had to be pushed back to the pits, but obviously it wasn’t too bad an omen for the rest of the weekend. I said to Samir that I didn’t just want him stood there watching the cars so I got him to give a bit of a reaction by giving the thumbs up and cheering them out. It was just a great display of emotion because he’s put a lot of hard work into the track and at this point it had all come together for the first session of the weekend. Hopefully the area around the circuit will be built up over the next few years and we’ll start to get some more interesting backgrounds for photos. I talked to one of the guys behind the project and the plans sound very interesting, so I think it’s only going to get better year on year.


The tricky chicane

Camera: Canon EOS-1D Mark III | Lens: 600mm Telephoto | Shutter speed: 1/640 Sec | Aperture: 6.3 © Sutton Images

This is the turn eight and nine chicane that was causing all sorts of aggravation for the drivers over the weekend. Obviously Felipe Massa lost his suspension twice on the kerbs along that part of the circuit, but even before that we knew it was a tricky corner for them. I’d talked to a TV camera man who said a lot of them were going off there on Friday so I went over for third practice and got this shot of Bruno Senna making a mistake. It was so dirty that if they came into the corner off line they were guaranteed to make a mistake and it made for a good photo from behind with all the dust. Obviously the grass there wasn’t bedded down and you can see it being thrown all over the place.


Cricket and Bollywood

Camera: Canon EOS-1D Mark III | Lens: 16-35mm Zoom | Shutter speed: 1/300 Sec | Aperture: 6.3 © Sutton Images

In this photo you’ve got Roy Sahara, who has just bought a stake in Force India, Bernie Ecclestone, Vijay Mallya, cricketing legend Sachin Tendulkar, and Bollywood stars Shahrukh Khan and Gulshan Grover. You couldn’t turn on the grid without seeing another picture as there were just so many Indian guests and celebrities knocking about. Bernie came on the grid with Sachin and the other guys in the photo were guests of Mallya. They met midway down the grid where the Force India of Adrian Sutil was and it was absolutely crazy down there. There were a lot of cricketers and Bollywood stars at the track on Sunday as those are two of the biggest forms of entertainment in India.