F1 photographer Mark Sutton looks back at his favourite pictures from the second half of the season.
Round 11 – Hungary: Heidfeld fire part two
I was quite lucky to be in the right place at the right time for this photo, although it would have been better without the Eni advertising hoarding at the top of the frame. I’m always very critical of my own work but that’s how you move forward and improve your work. In this case I just saw it out of the corner of my eye as I was standing on the tower at turn one. After last year’s incident with Michael Schumacher and Rubens Barrichello, I felt that it would be the best place to view as much action as possible. I saw the first sparks coming out of the side of the car as he was leaving the pits and then it burst into flames right under the Eni sign – a couple of metres further down the road and it would have been perfect for my photo! But like I say, I’m very critical of my own work and I like to have clean photos. It seemed to me that the marshals were quite slow arriving on the scene and that’s when it blew up and spewed carbon fibre across the track. It looks spectacular even though I’m a fair distance away and it was an important photo to get. For Nick, it’s his second fire of the season and very similar to the one he had in Barcelona, so hopefully, for his sake, there won’t be any more any time soon.
Round 12 – Belgium: Schumi’s celebrations
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.
Round 13 – Italy: Webber retires
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.
Round 14 – Singapore: Starstruck Kobayashi
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. They got on so well that Chester designed Kamui’s helmet for the final race in Brazil.
Round 15 – Japan: Our champion
I was quite lucky to get this shot because of my location. There’s a really nice balcony on the media centre but no-one’s allowed outside, which is really odd. It’s like prime position to take photos during the race but we weren’t allowed, but we asked if we could go up after the race, which we were allowed to do. It was a really nice position but we didn’t know what would happen, and unfortunately Seb was third so he was right underneath us. But that gives it a completely different aspect, and with the blue background it’s a real blend of the Red Bull colours. He stood on the car and pointed with both fingers to symbolise his two world titles, and then ran over to his team to celebrate. It’s just a great shot of him stood on the machine that gave him the title, and also shows his special helmet which he was auctioning off for charity. It’s just a really nice, poignant picture of the champion.
Round 16 – Korea: Race start
This is taken right from the back of the first corner grandstand. The reason I went there was to try and get the lovely bridge at the back of the shot. It’s a beautiful structure and must have cost them millions; it’s made out of really heavy wood that you can smell as you walk through. People don’t see the inside but it’s really nicely finished with huge beams and metal rivets. It’s the only iconic structure at the circuit at the moment and it’s great that you can get it in the same picture as the start. But I had to go right to the top of the grandstand because if you were to take the same shot from ground level you would have got the Pirelli banner in the way. It was good to see a packed grandstand and they estimated that 79,000 people were there on race day, which is impressive when you consider how far the track is from Seoul. Having said that, some of them still don’t seem to get it because I saw coaches arriving with fans midway through the race!
Round 17 – India: The start of something special
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.
Round 18 – Abu Dhabi: Mother’s boy
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.
Round 19 – Brazil: Brazilian podium
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.