|Mark Sutton – Life Through a Lens 2015 – Part Two|
I turned up at the final chicane about 20 laps before the end of the race and quickly took some photos of the retired Red Bull of Daniel Ricciardo, thinking nothing of it. The next minute all the marshals started telling other photographers not to take any pictures, despite one of them taking pictures with his mobile phone! I had my photos in the bag; some low down ones as well as this one. It seemed the order to stop taking photos had come from race control, but I don’t see why as we are simply documenting what happened in the race.
People always say “always have a camera with you” and photos like this are the reason why. I was leaving the track at the end of the day and luckily I timed my exit alongside Lewis Hamilton. I actually took this on my iPhone, but it just goes to show how far mobile phone technology has come that you can get such a high-quality photo so easily. I took about 58 frames and immediately sent the best to the office when I got in my car to go back to the hotel, which is a great way to work. I couldn’t have got my camera out in time because I would have missed it, it was that quick. I thought he was just going to ride out the paddock, but he stopped and did this burnout for the fans, who had been waiting there all evening to get a glimpse of an F1 driver or two. The atmosphere was amazing because he was so pumped and after the burnout he cruised past the fans, looking like Easy Rider without his helmet on.
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.
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.
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.
I got to the Lewis Hamilton celebration quite late. All year he’s been running away from the champagne after the Mercedes victory shot. This time he probably thought as he’d won the championship there’s no point running away; he just stood there and they doused him. Not just him, either, the man on the left is spraying the champagne towards me and just after this covered my lens with it. I took some shots of Lewis on the shoulders of his engineers later and it still had droplets on it.
This is an amazing section of the circuit. The organisers did an incredible job — on Friday alone there was 89,000 people at the circuit and this bit was like a party atmosphere all weekend. I went here on Friday because there was rain predicted for the rest of the weekend so this was the best opportunity for a good shot of the stadium. I knew exactly where to go because I had gone around on Wednesday to find the best spot. My brother Keith was on the far right shooting there but I decided to go in the middle. The fans were amazing, they were helpful, they moved out of the way if you were taking shots. Like the drivers said on the podium it was like a football stadium. The grandstand is just concrete, no steps at all, and no cover over it either but everyone was there having a good time watching the F1. You can see that section being sold out every year we go back to Mexico.
It’s rare to catch drivers giving a full burnout in the pit box because sometimes there’s already rubber down and they don’t need to put down as much. They tend to come in and do these practice pit stops, you can see the guy has got his finger on the button ready to give Kimi Raikkonen the green light to go again. They tend to do it all around the same time at the end of the session and you can be in two pit boxes at the same time, so the rear of one and the front of another. The teams can fret about that a bit because they don’t want you ruining their pit stop practices so you’ve got to be careful to stay out of their way, so sometimes you miss out on these opportunities.
This is Nico Rosberg celebrating with his half of the Mercedes garage, his mechanics. I was in a helicopter for most of the race doing different shots so I came down after the chequered flag, downloaded everything and by the time I had I thought I should go out to do this in the pit lane. I managed to find quite a good spot, did the usual whole team shot and then you get Lewis or Nico posing with their whole team. There’s raw emotion on Nico’s face and as a photographer you want to find pictures which tell this sort of story about a weekend and this is quite nice to explain the end of Rosberg’s season.