A thrilling start

F1 photographer Mark Sutton picks his favourite shots from first five races of the season and the Mugello test


Australia: Button celebrates

© Sutton Images

The light was just incredible when Jenson got out the car. He came over towards me and I was quite low down so there’s a bit of sky behind it and you can see his gloves. The problem for people who were higher up was that the black background made it hard to distinguish the gloves, which are making a “W”. He was obviously ecstatic and the best thing about it was that I won some money on him so it was even better! I was doing an autograph signing session with him at the last test in Barcelona and the last thing he said to me was “see you in parc ferme” so I took his word for it and put bets on for pole, victory and to win the championship. I was quite happy with that! 


Malaysia: Sauber celebrates

© Sutton Images

I like this top shot of the mechanic’s finger, but it’s actually a mistake! It just shows you how autofocus works sometimes. When you don’t use manual focus and you use autofocus sometimes it can pin in on something that’s in the foreground. I think it creates a really nice picture, personally, because it’s just the one finger up like he’s the man, but it wasn’t what I intended! It just shows emotion too, you’ve got him in the background out of focus as he greets all his mechanics. Here I’d gone for a really weird position, just down the line in parc ferme. I saw all the mechanics and knew he’d come over – I just took that instinct into it and thought he might come over; he’s more than likely to. So I just leant out a bit and shot down the line. Great emotions though, as you can see with the sharper picture below where he’s celebrating with the team. 


China: Marbles

© Sutton Images

This just shows you how bad the marbles were in China, and tyres played such a crucial role in the race. I was trying to get an angle somewhere around the track that showed all the debris because it was horrendous. When a car went off-line … well Raikkonen showed how bad it was when he lost all those positions. He lost five places in one lap, and if you go off line you’re in real trouble. It was all about finding the spot, and as I was wandering back for the finish shots I could see it there. I shot a couple through the fence at first, and then there was a marshal’s post, so I just thought ‘well that works really, really well’. 


Bahrain – Perfect portraits

© Sutton Images

As photographers we love the Sakhir paddock. You get some great opportunities to shoot portraits because it is very hot and dry and that coaxes the teams and drivers out of their team buildings. We took several pictures of people outside, talking on benches or just relaxing under palm trees. The light is fantastic when the sun sets around 16:00 and you can walk in the paddock and photograph people without any obstacles such as the motorhomes you get in Europe. The backgrounds are simple and the buildings have sand coloured flat surfaces without advertising. It offers very clean images 


Mugello test – An old-school circuit

© Sutton Images

Here’s proof that Mugello is an old-school circuit. In this photo you can see the perimeter wall of the circuit, but unlike other tracks the catch-fencing to protect the spectators is further back with the perimeter road in between. So as a photographer you can shoot from behind the wall but in front of the fence rather than through holes in the fence as we have to do at most modern circuits. In this shot you can see that Sebastian Vettel has cycled over from the pit lane and has an unobstructed view of the car. 


Spain – Dealing with fire

© Sutton Images

Williams had done the celebration picture and they all started mobbing Frank so I thought I’d head up to the media room to wire the pictures. As I was heading back I could hear this explosion and everybody looked up at the smoke so I ran back through it all to see people pulling all the fire extinguishers down the pit lane. It was absolute bloody chaos, but what was amazing about the fire was the camaraderie and all the support that the teams gave. Everyone brought fire extinguishers, they knew it was a fire and they knew it could affect other garages if they just left it, so they all showed their support. It was great. It was a bit like a warzone trying to shoot it all – I felt like a war photographer – I didn’t want to get in people’s way but my news head kicked in and I felt like I needed to get the shots. I didn’t do too badly, it was incredible seeing some senior team members mucking in and quite a few were covered in extinguisher dust by the time they stepped away.


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