Suzuka Special – Life through the Lens with Keith Sutton

F1 photographer Keith Sutton picks his six favourite shots from the Japanese Grand Prix

© Sutton Images
This shot was taken from the back of the grandstand at Turns 1 and 2. It’s a nice scenic shot and because we had someone down at the first corner taking a head-on shot, I decided to take this one. It’s always nice to get up high, and taking this shot you are also amongst it all with the fans. Because it’s a wide shot I didn’t actually notice the crash at the back between Giedo van der Garde, but you can see the early stages of it at the back of this photo. You can also see Romain Grosjean’s brilliant start to the race, which set things up for a good battle throughout.

© Sutton Images
The fans in Japan are just fantastic. Last year there was a really enthusiastic turn out to see Kamui Kobayahsi take a podium, but even without the Japanese driver the crowds were still strong in 2013. It took me back to the 1990s when Formula One was really big in Japan and this year they were as crazy as ever. They have a competition for the craziest dressed on a Saturday afternoon, so it’s always great to see what people turn up wearing because they all make such a big effort.

© Sutton Images
Towards the end of the race I wandered down to the start-finish straight to capture an image of Sebastian Vettel crossing the line. As I was walking down there, Mark Webber finally made his move on Romain Grosjean for second place and watching that was absolutely unbelievable. The speed they are going at is just incredible, it’s difficult to comprehend. You don’t always notice it at a corner but when you are that close to the cars on the straight you get an idea of just how quick they are.

© Sutton Images

By being on the pit straight for the finish shot, I also got a picture of Grosjean as he pulled in immediately after the chequered flag. He got out of the car and all the crowd were cheering him, so he bowed and waved at the fans in the main grandstand. You don’t often get that kind of interaction between the drivers and fans because the cars usually stopped in parc ferme, so it was great to see.

© Sutton Images
This shot was taken from the side of the podium. Unfortunately we missed out on the champagne celebrations because there was a TV cameraman in the way as they sprayed it. There was a lot of hanging around and waiting patiently, but as Sebastian made his way off the podium I shouted at him and he looked right down the lens. It’s a typical shot of him with his celebratory finger and winner’s trophy, but it’s nice to have a different angle.

© Sutton Images
This was the minute’s silence in memory of Maria de Villota. It was a very private moment in one of the garages and there weren’t many photographers there. There was a TV cameraman, but they wanted to make sure it was done respectfully without all the media hanging around. FIA president Jean Todt gave a short talk to the drivers and it was a very sad moment. When I first started in the late 1970s her father, Emilio de Villota, became a good friend of mine because he was racing then. When Maria came into Formula One we did a bit of work with her and I was very shocked to hear the news on Friday. To see her in Spain this year was amazing after all she’d been through with her accident, but to hear that she had passed away was very sad.

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