From Monaco to Hungary

F1 photographer Mark Sutton picks his favourite shots from the last six races of the first half of the season

Monaco – Follow the leader

© Sutton Images

While it wasn’t the most entertaining race, the fact that it was the closest ever top-four finish at Monaco meant it was a tight one throughout. You’re always looking for shots that will capture the essence of the race, and I think that’s what this one does. Having the leading five cars all in a row and in one shot together so late in a race is very rare, but you can also see just how tight the track is. There’s no way past, but the barriers are so close you know that one mistake will end the race for somebody, and Webber was under a great deal of pressure too. Look how close the marshals are to the cars too – you don’t get that anywhere else. It really is such a unique race.

Canada – Flipping brilliant

© Sutton Images

Keith Sutton: At the time this was shot most photographers were in the wire room uploading pictures, but it was such a lovely evening that I decided to take a walk over to McLaren’s hospitality. All of Lewis’s entourage were milling around, including his girlfriend Nicole Scherzinger and manager Simon Fuller, and I was just grabbing shots of that because the light was so nice. Then I saw Lewis head out of the paddock so I thought I’d follow him because it’s always nice getting photos of the drivers crossing the pontoon when the light is low. So while he was signing autographs I went ahead and strolled to the end of the pontoon to get a picture of him with my 70-200mm lens. Then as he came towards me he pushed his trainer, Antti Vierula, into the Olympic rowing basin! But what I wasn’t expecting was what happened next as Lewis put his back to the water and did this incredible backflip! I just kept my finger down and the autofocus did its work to capture this incredible sequence of him jumping in. My thoughts were, with Hamilton being a McLaren driver, he doesn’t get a chance to do what the Red Bull drivers do in the swimming pool when they win in Monaco. So I said that to him as I thanked him for the photos. It was a great end to a great weekend.

Europe – Dead Bull

© Sutton Images

Sebastian Vettel’s Red Bull stopped on the track on the Sunday and they didn’t quite manage to get it back to the pits. It got halfway between the first corner and the pits so I was able to get a few shots of it by itself and I was able to go a little bit closer than normal. It’s nice to be able to have a bit of freedom to take photos of the car and not have mechanics trying to shove you away and guard it. So to get a close up of the steering wheel and the rear of the car is a little bit unusual.

Britain – Threatening skies

© Sutton Images

It’s almost pitch black behind Alonso in qualifying. It was his final run in qualifying and this shot has not been edited at all. I’ve darkened the car slightly but have not touched up the clouds or anything. It’s actually sunny at this point of the session as the track dries out and Alonso is coming down into Vale on the inside of the track. With the sun being out and the black cloud in the background it creates a really nice picture, a kind of moody, menacing image. It was just good to be in the right place with the incoming weather behind to create this moody shot.

Germany – Fernando and his team

© Sutton Images

I think Santander missed a trick in this photo. Around the chequered flag they had their advertising but it didn’t stretch down to the team. Apart from the flag post, the team is where most people are going to shoot and Santander is missing from the wall. It suits me because I like nice clean backgrounds and the red works well with the car and the team. Alonso has one hand in the air – I would have liked to have two, but I guess I’m just being critical now – so it really does create a great image. Alonso is absolutely on fire at the moment and the team love him and have really warmed to him this season. The car doesn’t really look that trick, but they just get their work done each weekend, bring little updates and at the moment it’s all working for them. It’s amazing how he was able to defend from Jenson Button, even in the DRS zone, so he’s clearly comfortable with the car.

Hungary – Lewis celebrates

© Sutton Images

After doing the parc ferme shot when Lewis was saluting his team, we managed to get his attention and get him to look up. We were just shouting and there were three times he looked up at us, which is good. It creates a great shot because he’s looking right at us as he sprays the champagne. I was just swapping between lenses for different shots but it was quite tight; you never actually see where we shoot from but there was five of us up there and the space for five was not good! It was restricted but I pulled a fast one and didn’t tell anyone I was going up there. I managed to sort it out just before the race and it turned out to be worth it. It’s all about getting the best pictures at the end of the day and getting something unusual – something from a different angle that nobody else has got – and hopefully that convinces the editors to use the pictures more because they’ve got something completely different.


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