Mark Sutton – Life Through The Lens – Russian Grand Prix – Nosing around

Mark Sutton – Life Through The Lens – Russian Grand Prix – Nosing around
F1 photographer Mark Sutton picks his favourite photos from the Russian Grand Prix.

Camera: Nikon D4s | Lens: Nikkor 500mm F4ED | Shutter Speed: 1/1000s | Exposure: F6.3 | ISO: 400

Nosing around

This was taken after qualifying, which had been a bit of an anti-climax. Lewis Hamilton ended up aborting his lap after a mistake and parked his car in the garage rather than in parc ferme. We’re not allowed into parc ferme until all the cars have crossed the line, so we have to wait and I only just got a photo of Nico Rosberg as he parked up with pole position secure. Sebastian Vettel was a bit later to arrive and by that time Lewis was already walking around and having a really good look at the Ferrari. I suppose he can compare it to his own car and ask questions to his engineers, but it’s hard to believe he can learn that much from looking at it in parc ferme. He even had a look in the cockpit once Seb had jumped out! Next year Seb could be his biggest rival, so it was interesting to see how much attention he was paying to the Ferrari.

Camera: Nikon D4s | Nikkor 70-200mm & 1.4X extender 280mm | Shutter Speed: 1/1000s | Exposure: F6.3 | ISO: 400

What the TV cameras didn’t show

I shot the start of the race from the photographers’ tower at Turn 1 in order to capture the two Mercedes fighting in the first corner, but when I panned back through the pack I saw Nico Hulkenberg spinning. It looked like he spun on his own and ended up facing the wrong way before Marcus Ericsson collected him and went over the top. The TV cameras didn’t really capture how close the Sauber got to Hulkenberg’s head as it scraped along the side of the Force India. It just shows you that it could have been a lot worse than what it was and he was a very lucky boy. The rear wheel could have made contact with his head, but you just don’t know what will happen in those circumstances and it all happens so quickly. I was lucky to pan round at the right time and had the right lens on my camera, because it was easy to miss if you had too long a lens.

Camera: Nikon D4s | Lens: Nikkor 500mm F4ED | Shutter Speed: 1/1000s | Exposure: F6.3 | ISO: 400

Fighting Ferraris

The two Ferraris were fighting for position and I got a sequence of photos of them going wheel-to-wheel into Turn 2. Sebastian Vettel attacked on the inside into the corner and Kimi Raikkonen had to run wide before resuming ahead of his team-mate. In the end Vettel got him two corners later and took the position, but it was a nice sequence to see two big-name drivers fighting it out in identical machinery. As they come towards you at Turn 2 they come over a crest, but I was a bit of a disappointed not to see more sparks from the rear of the car like we’ve had at other circuits. Even so, the wheel-to-wheel action was dramatic enough.

Camera: Nikon D4s | Lens: Nikkor 500mm F4ED | Shutter Speed: 1/640s | Exposure: F5.6 | ISO: 400

Champagne celebrations

I like this shot because he’s spraying the champagne directly at the camera. We had another photographer shooting the podium from a more conventional angle, so I decided to base myself near the Mercedes team. When he celebrates Lewis generally tends to focus towards the team below, so that was the key to getting this photo and that comes down to having the experience to know that. This is a nice composition because the spray isn’t covering his face and you can see the moment of passion with his expression and that hat! The only shame is that it wasn’t a sunny podium, so all the images were a bit dull compared to some of the others we have had this year.


Mark Sutton – Life Through The Lens – Singapore and Japanese Grand Prix – The finger returns

Mark Sutton – Life Through The Lens – Singapore and Japanese Grand Prix – The finger returns

F1 photographer Mark Sutton talks ESPN through his six favourite shots from the Singapore-Japan double header.

Camera model: Nikon D4s | Exposure time: 1/320s | Aperture: F5.6 | ISO speed: 2000 | Lens: 70-200mm zoom

The finger returns

This is a nice shot of Sebastian Vettel’s iconic celebration. It was a strange weekend with Mercedes dropping off the pace but we saw the old Vettel well and truly back on form. i like this picture because you can see the camera and the camerman, when most people who watch F1 will be familiar with the view from the camera itself. This was a delayed celebration as Ferrari wasn’t able to get to parc ferme and that was good from my position because it meant he just kept celebrating. I was able to shoot away; the light in parc ferme is pretty good so you can shoot with those pretty well. I could have cropped the cameraman out but you can see he’s smiling it and enjoying it as much as Vettel! One interesting point that confused me is that Vettel has made some tweaks to his helmet, which I didn’t think they could do under the regulations, but it’s quite clear on the side of his helmet there are some new swirls that weren’t there at the start of the year.

Camera model: Nikon D4s | Exposure time: 1/800s | Aperture: F3.5 | ISO speed: 800 | Lens: 70-200mm Zoom

Follow the leader

This was during FP2. The Merc boys kept coming round lap after lap through the pit lane to do practice starts. You would normally expect them to do this on Saturday morning, in FP3, but this is the most representative session to qualifying due to the time it is run. From the angle I’m standing at I’ve managed to get the “Your Singapore” branding on the bridge on it, the long run down to Turn 1, and Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg are also quite close together as well.

Camera model: Nikon D4s | Exposure time: 1/15s | Aperture: F18 | ISO speed: 200 | Lens: 500mm telephoto

Sparkling Lotus

The night races this year have been really great for sparks. You see them in the daylight but they get enhanced a great deal under the lights. This is on a longer lens, a 500, panning into the first corner from the same position I took the Hamilton and Rosberg photograph (above), I’m sat there hoping the cars will spark because they were bottoming out over a bump or two there, and this one is a great shot of Pastor Maldonado’s Lotus doing just that. We’ve had Bahrain and now Singapore where there’s been some great spark shots and I imagine it will be similar at Abu Dhabi in November.

Camera model: Nikon D4s | Exposure time: 1/320s | Aperture: F4 | ISO speed: 400 | Lens: 24-70mm zoom

Fanatical fans

This is was at the start of the Japanese Grand Prix weekend — the track walk on Thursday. What a lot of people don’t know is that after the pit walk they open the pit lane up for local school children. Each class picks or is allocated a team which they will welcome to the paddock. So each school will be outside the garage of each team — ten schools, ten teams. It helps them gain an interest in one team and an individual driver. Here they have old-school cycle helmets, typical of motorcycle helmets in Japan, and have coloured them. They’ve also made the Sebastian Vettel glasses out of cardboard, which I thought looked great. All of the kids are then sat opposite the garages so it makes for an easy picture to grab. They’re all very fanatical and I don’t know why other venues on the calendar don’t do the same thing with local schools because it’s a great idea and a good way of giving young people the F1 bug early.

Camera model: Nikon D4s | Exposure time: 1/1000s | Aperture: F7.1 | ISO speed: 400 | Lens: 500mm telephoto

Race hopes shredded

I did the start shot looking back from not too far where Jules Bianchi had his tragic crash last year, where they come up the hill after the first sequence of corners. After watching the start itself on the big screen I could see there was some commotion at Turn 1 with a few cars. Felipe Massa came around after the main pack had passed, clearly struggling a lot with this tyre. For this I switched to the 500, usually I would shoot the cars coming through on the 7200, but to get a closer shot you want a 500 to try and pan it through. It’s really tight in and close and the wing has destroyed itself and the tyre is flat, and if you look closely the wheel itself looks absolutely destroyed as well. I have to admit, I was surprised when I saw on the screen he had made it back to the pits because the damage was so extreme.

Camera model: Nikon D4s | Exposure time: 1/500s | Aperture: F7.1 | ISO speed: 400 | Lens: 70-200mm zoom

Matching Ayrton

For this I was right next to the podium, a privileged position as only about eight of us are allowed up there. You would never usually get a shot where you can see the podium side-on like that — it’s part of the new pit lane complex and has the added bonus of this angle for parc ferme. When Lewis came in he was saluting his team and he was really celebrating — he was patting his car, standing on it and waving, jumping around with his team. I had a great place to be and a great shot. This was obviously significant for Hamilton as it moved him level with his childhood hero, Ayrton Senna, and this is the moment he celebrated that, so it had a bit more of a story to it than your usual parc ferme picture. it’s also very similar to a shot I have of Senna celebrating his win at Suzuka in 1993, something I put on Instagram after the race.