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.


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