Mark Sutton – Life Through a Lens – Over before it began


Mark Sutton – Life Through a Lens – Over before it began
F1 photographer Mark Sutton talks through his favourite shots from the Singapore Grand Prix

Camera model : Nikon D4 | Exposure time: 1/640 s | Aperture : F4 | ISO speed: 1600 | Lens: 500mm Telephoto

Going nowhere fast

This was obviously when Nico Rosberg failed to start on the formation lap. I was on the tower here so the shot is miles away but its perhaps the most important in the context of the race, which hadn’t even started by this point! I quickly had to change lens because I had a reasonably small lens ready for the start, so I was lucky to get him being wheeled off the grid and then later on in the pits. We didn’t know what the hell was going on from up there to be perfectly honest but knew it was effectively race over and another twist to the season for Mercedes with their complications and controversy this year. It was quite surprising to see it happen. It didn’t help the start shot to be honest because the one we got ended up looking like Lewis Hamilton was miles ahead, and Fernando Alonso running wide made it even worse from a picture quality point of view. These shots of Rosberg tell the story and will be a picture used throughout the year as it’s part of the championship tale.

Camera model: Nikon D4 | Exposure time: 1/100 s | Aperture: F6.3 | ISO speed: 1000 | Lens: 24-70mm zoom

A watchful eye

This is interesting because I’ve never seen Sir Frank Williams in the pit lane like this before. Obviously, the car isn’t going out, this is a practice pit stop – but it is misleading! I think this was Thursday night, people tend to work really late because it’s a good time to practice pit stops in the dark. Obviously there are lights on but it’s a chance to do it with shadows around. I think Frank was interested, he didn’t want to stay in the garage and I don’t blame him. At one point Valtteri Bottas was doing some filming at one point for Sky Sports F1 but I missed him. I was the only photographer there, saw something going down in Williams and saw Sir Frank and realised it would make quite a nice low-down angle shot. Important to make it known it’s not a real-life pit stop, though!

Camera model: Nikon D4 | Exposure time: 1/1000 s | Aperture: F3.5 | ISO speed: 3200 | Lens: 14-24mm zoom

Evening in Singapore

This was FP1, the session where it goes from daylight to darkness. I did the first 30 minutes – which are daylight – in the pits but thought there was no point going out at that point. By the time I did the black clouds had come out and there’s no real sunset, you can see that here as it’s not lit very well. It would be better if they lit it all better. This is around 7.00/7.15 in the evening, so about halfway through the session. There’s the lights of the circuit and the little bit of light in the background. This is at the last corner, and I’m shooting through a little gap in the advertising hoardings cut out by people from the media centre. They didn’t cut out any of the ‘Singapore Airlines’ wording but the blue just above it that we have to squeeze through. They’re good in Singapore in keeping the media and photographers happy.

Camera model: Nikon D4 | Exposure time: 1/400 s | Aperture: F5 | ISO speed: 3200 | Lens: 70-200mm zoom

A close-run thing

This is what I call ‘the moment’. I was to the side there, not doing the head-on shot. I was doing side-on angle hoping that I could then get Lewis walking down the side, which I did afterwards. This one was captured quite well because it wasn’t completely blocked by Daniel Ricciardo, you can see his hand on the left. People doing the head-on shot probably got quite a lot of it shot. There’s eye contact, a little bit of a smile because it was so damn close between them in qualifying. This was really more about the eye contact, the high five – there’s a sequence of it and on this one I’ve cropped Ricciardo out, because it’s about the two Mercedes drivers rather than him. This was the picture of qualifying for me, it was an emotional shot. It seems like they are being a little friendlier, though whether that’s a PR job from Mercedes and Toto Wolff I don’t know. But this is the first time they’ve seen each other in parc ferme and reacted like this in a while.

Camera model: Nikon D4 | Exposure time: 1/1000 s | Aperture: F5.6 | ISO speed: 3200| Lens: 70-200mm zoom

Hunters and the hunted

This is another one where I’ve taken a shot through that hole in the fence. This is about a 12-inch gap that I have to poke my head through, lean out and shoot down the track. I was here for the finish shot but there were some close battles going on. I knew I had to get something because there were really no other photographers on track at this point. Just before this I had one of Sebastian Vettel leading Hamilton – that is important in telling the story of the race of course because he didn’t lead for every lap. This one is just as important in telling the story as not many people had pictures of this train of cars and obviously this was a battle which came alive in the final laps. I like the shot because Raikkonen’s DRS looks like it’s in the process of opening, meaning he’s just crossing that line, while Sergio Perez hasn’t quite hit the mark yet. Then in the background you have Sergio Perez and Jean-Eric Vergne rounding the corner.

Camera model : Nikon D4 | Exposure time: 1/800 s | Aperture: F4.5 | ISO speed: 1600 | Lens: 500mm telephoto

A different kind of facial

This is an amusing podium shot because Vettel is getting a face-full of champagne. This champagne part went on for ages, actually. Vettel is in focus, Hamilton is not, but I was shooting away here because that part of the ceremony was going on for such a long period of time. They were spraying and spraying, Vettel had got Hamilton so here was just payback. In this picture Vettel is putting his hands up but Hamilton has got the angle of his fingers absolutely perfectly and he’s just dousing him completely. When they were interviewed just after that Vettel was still rubbing his eyes, so he must have got him good and proper. So it’s an amusing one and the best from that podium ceremony.


Mark Sutton – Life Through a Lens – Magic at Monza

F1 photographer Mark Sutton talks ESPN through his six favourite shots from the Italian Grand Prix

Camera model: Nikon D4 | Exposure time: 1/125s | Aperture: F2.8 | ISO speed: 400 | Lens: 24-70mm zoom

Super Mario

These photos are for the promotion of the US Grand Prix at the Circuit of the Americas. Mario Andretti is such a legend that when he turns up the drivers want to be involved. If you’re trying to get them to wear a funny hat for no good reason it might be a bit difficult, but with Mario there the drivers want to talk and engage with him. He’s such a gentleman and very open and easy to talk to. The story was that he was the sheriff and he wanted some deputies for the grand prix. So at each team he had two deputies wearing the cowboy hats. The only team that didn’t take part was Mercedes, but after what happened in Spa-Francorchamps you might be able to understand why!

Camera model: Nikon D4 | Exposure time: 1/640s | Aperture: F5 ISO speed: 200 | Lens: 24-70mm zoom

The man himself

This was a great moment and has obviously become a more relevant photo this week! I was in the media scrum waiting for him in the pits and I tried to attract his attention by shouting at him. I went “Luca! Luca!” and he then put his hand up towards me and looked directly down my lens. He then went on to the pit wall and started pumping his fist to get the crowd going. The TV cameras missed it the first time, but he was only too happy to do it again. He’s a very charismatic personality and he loves himself a bit, but he will be missed.

Camera model: Nikon D4 | Exposure time: 1/250s | Aperture: F5.6 | ISO speed : 1000 | Lens: 70-200 zoom

A legend watches on

It was good to see John Surtees at Monza and as an ex-Ferrari driver with links to Shell he probably spends quite a lot of time there. At this moment he was in Sebastian Vettel’s garage and I think they get on quite well because Seb has a lot of respect for all the old drivers and the history of the sport. I think when the current drivers get in the old cars they often think, ‘how the hell did they drive these’ because it’s so much more about the driver being on his own without assistance. John is very respected in the paddock and always has a story to tell, but the final bit of this story was that he was on my EasyJet flight on the way back!

Camera model: Nikon D4 | Exposure time: 1/1000s | Aperture: F9 | ISO speed: 200

Racing at Rettifilio

There were a lot of overtakes into the first corner, so it was a great position to be. I didn’t even have to change lens, I just kept on the 70-200mm, which is small lens to use. I couldn’t see the point of changing the lens because as they enter the corner they are a long way away and as they exit it they are quite tight. So if you want to capture the action throughout you have to use a zoom lens. You just have to be prepared, because once the DRS kicked in it was just one overtake after another. Nobody went flying over the kerbs, but Valtteri Bottas did have to skip the chicane in his battle with Kevin Magnussen.

Camera model: Nikon D4 | Exposure time: 1/1000s | Aperture: F10 | ISO speed: 200 | Lens: 70-200mm zoom

A game changing moment

This was the moment when Nico Rosberg locked up during the race, handing victory to Lewis Hamilton. Obviously he then went through the chicane, but the moment he locked up is the picture as far as I’m concerned. The fact he did it twice helps, but I had a good spot to catch him with the tyre smoke pouring off the rubber. People started talking about whether he did it on purpose, but I think that’s rubbish and just a result of people looking for a story. For me stood there it could have ended with a nice overtaking move or a crash, but the important thing was that I was there for the moment when it happened. The good news is that Lewis is keeping the championship alive and will keep trying to come back until the last race.

Camera model: Nikon D4 | Exposure time: 1/640s | Aperture: F8 | ISO speed: 400 | Lens: 400mm telephoto

To the victor, the spoils

You have a backlit background to this podium shot, which makes it a nice photo. I actually shot it from an open window I found in the media centre, but the Monza podium is a semicircle, so you are never sure which side they are going to be on and whether you will get a clean shot. You have to hope they come towards you. It’s a risk and I didn’t know where I was going to shoot from, but this window in one of the offices gave a perfect angle.

Belgian Grand Prix Life Thru a Lens – Back on Track

F1 photographer Mark Sutton talks ESPN through his six favourite shots from the Belgian Grand Prix
Camera model: Nikon D4 | Exposure time: 1/4000s | Aperture: F5 | ISO speed: 400 | Lens: 10.5mm fish eye.

Whoa Rouge

I haven’t been to Eau Rouge for years and it was great to get down there. This year they locked one of the main gates to get to the part on the outside of the track, so I went early enough before the session so I could cross the track without any issues. It was easier and I didn’t fancy climbing over walls and fences to get to the best spot. One guy climbed the gate and as he was up there one of the marshals found the key, which hadn’t been there all of the day before! But once in position, it is a great experience. I did some panning shots as they come through at 200mph, which, if you can get sharp results, proves you are a true professional, but this shot was taken through the barrier using a fisheye and a fast shutter speed. The cars are not as noisy as they used to be, so really you just feel the displaced air hit you in the face, but they are bloody close and it still takes your breath away. There’s not many corners in F1 where they are doing 200mph with just two layers of barriers between you and the car. It’s a must-experience of the Formula One world!

Camera model: Nikon D4 | Exposure time: 1/250s | Aperture: F9 | ISO speed: 200 | Lens: 24-70mm zoom

Ice Bucket Challenge

We had the ice bucket challenge doing the rounds in the paddock this weekend, which added a bit of humour. I did it on the Wednesday night after two people nominated me – one in Abu Dhabi and one in Canada. I wasn’t sure of the etiquette, so I did two! It’s all for charity and raising money for a good cause and it exploded in F1 as the weekend went on. Belgium can be a bit of a dull weekend with bad weather after the summer break, so it’s good to have something to spark things off a little bit. It was quite funny to do one when everyone is freezing already!

Camera model: Nikon D4 | Exposure time: 1/15s | Aperture: F22 | ISO speed: 100 | Lens: 500mm telephoto

Spray Shot

This shot was taken during qualifying from the inside of La Source. This is where the medical car waits to leave the pits in an emergency, but it also gives us a clear view of the cars on the straight down to Eau Rouge. Lewis is on the wet line and you can see Alonso has less spray because he’s on the racing line. I shot this with a reduced shutter speed to add to the movement of the picture and it was quite nice to see someone attempting a passing move at that point of the track.

Camera model: Nikon D4 | Exposure time: 1/320s | Aperture: F6.3 | ISO speed: 400 | Lens: 24-70mm zoom

A Private Matter

Bernie Ecclestone was talking to Paul Hembery and Niki Lauda on the grid and one of the TV men was in close with his camera. He was almost listening in on the conversation and Bernie got hold of the camera man and moved him away! It was his own FOM camera man and Bernie decided he was a bit too close to what must have been a private conversation. I continued to shoot but kept a respectable distance, although I could tell that there was quite a heated conversation going on. There were various hand movements, which I suspect might be about the increased wheel size in the future.

Camera model: Nikon D4 | Exposure time: 1/1000s | Aperture: F9 | ISO speed: 400 | Lens: 24-70mm zoom

The Start

I was at La Source for the start of the race waiting for the crash … and not much happened! Lewis got the lead and Seb managed to cut around the outside of Rosberg and beat him down to Eau Rouge. It’s always quite close into that corner but this year they managed to keep it relatively clean. The big incident then happened on lap two but I was in the wrong place to capture that. It destroyed the race from a Mercedes point of view, but gave Daniel Ricciardo a shot at the victory which he did well to take.

Camera model: Nikon D4 | Exposure time: 1/1000s | Aperture: F9 | ISO speed: 200 | Lens: 500mm telephoto

Winning Team

This is a great picture of Daniel crossing the line. It shows the atmosphere within the team and the celebrations as the mechanics fill every available hole in the pit wall, and in some cases climb over the top of the photographers! Daniel has his arm in the air and they were a happy team to get their second race win in a row and their third of the year. It’s an incredible result and they are benefitting from various mistakes and issues with the Mercedes cars. But they still have to be there as the best of the rest to take the victory.