Life Through a Lens: Spanish Grand Prix

Life Through a Lens: Spanish Grand Prix

F1 photographer Mark Sutton talks ESPN through his favourite shots from the Spanish Grand Prix.

Casualties of War

Camera model: NIKON D4S | Exposure time: 1/320 s | Aperture: F11 | ISO speed : 200 | Lens: 70-200mm zoom

We didn’t catch the Mercedes collision — Turn 4 is not a usual place for a photographer to stand on the first lap as it’s usually unlikely anything will happen there. The one agency that caught it was doing some work for a sponsor, much like how I got lucky and captured Sebastian Vettel’s engine blowup in Bahrain while doing stuff for DHL — sometimes that’s how it goes. While the race was going I had BBC radio coverage on in my ear and they remarked how sad it was to see the cars sat under covers in parc ferme and so I shot over there as quick as I could.

I think this is a nice image as it’s something different and looks fairly dramatic. I had to get this signed off by the FIA before sending it out because I wasn’t sure if it was actually in parc ferme and an area I’m not allowed to shoot in — I don’t know how it works because I was told it doesn’t become parc ferme until the race finished. Either way, it was a nice shot to get as it was very different to what anyone else got — it has a doomsday feel to it.

Master and Apprentice

Camera model: Nikon D4S | Exposure time: 1/320s | Aperture: F6.3 | ISO speed : 400 | Lens: 70-200 Zoom

This was a good shot as it was Dr Helmut Marko who played a big role in Verstappen’s early elevation to Red Bull ahead of the race. I don’t think even Marko would have imagined how it panned out in real life, but this photograph was a bit like master and apprentice celebrating a job well done. Just after this Daniel Ricciardo came over and congratulated Max which was great to see — he was disappointed in how his own race turned out but seemed genuinely pleased for Verstappen. Shooting the first Verstappen-Red Bull celebration felt like the first of many, somehow… I think it’s a sight we’re going to get very used to in the next few years.

Do It Yourself

Camera model: Nikon D5 | Exposure time: 1/1000s | Aperture: F6.3 | ISO speed : 200 | Lens: 500mm Telephoto

This was early in the race and a good example of how it sometimes pays to be in the right place at the right time. I had see the car smoking on the screen in front of me and before I knew it he came round the corner and to a stop just in front of me. After climbing out, Hulkenberg pointed the marshal to go round the back but he went around slowly and didn’t know how to open it. I think Hulkenberg got a bit impatient, grabbed the fire extinguisher off the marshal and initially doused the marshal with it before doing the back of the car. I think the marshals are scared of doing more damage to the car in those moments.

History Maker

Camera model: Nikon D5 | Exposure time: 1/1640s | Aperture: F6.3 | ISO speed : 800 | Lens: 70-200mm Zoom With 1.4 Extender

Seeing Verstappen spray the champagne was amusing when you kept being reminded how young he was — I don’t think he would have needed many drinks to celebrate his win! It’s funny to think he’s still not legal to drink in some of the places on the calendar. But what a remarkable debut. To adapt that quickly to a new car and keep calm under that pressure from Kimi Raikkonen was really fantastic. The race fell into his lap a little bit but the driver still has to deliver and he absolutely did that. It felt like a landmark moment in what should be a very good career.

The Man of the Hour

Camera model: Nikon D5 | Exposure time: 1/250s | Aperture: F14 | ISO speed : 400 | Lens: 70-200mm Zoom

There was heightened attention around Verstappen all week and on the grid was no different. There has been a noticeable increase in Dutch journalists since he made his debut and I only imagine that number will continue to rise in the coming weeks and months now that he’s claimed his first victory. On the grid there was one man all the photographers seemed to be interested in, obviously none of us knew the kind of race that was about to unfold in front of us.


Mark Sutton – Life Through a Lens: Russian Grand Prix

Mark Sutton – Life Through a Lens: Russian Grand Prix

F1 photographer Mark Sutton talks through his favourite shots from the Russian Grand Prix.

Fancy A Drive, Max?

Camera model: NIKON D5 | Exposure time: 1/320s | Aperture : F18 | ISO speed: 1000 | Lens: 24-70mm Zoom

This is one of those photos that suddenly had more meaning the following week. I had just come to the paddock after the autograph signing. Max Verstappen went over to Red Bull and started talking to Helmut Marko with his manager and dad, Jos, and there’s me thinking they were just talking about 2017! I got a few shots of them talking because I was aware of the link with next year, but thought nothing of it. When I saw the news last week of Verstappen replacing Daniil Kvyat I suddenly remembered this set of photographs and realised it was very newsworthy. This was obviously before Kvyat’s crash on Sunday and the revelation the following week but who knows, maybe the driver switch had already been mentioned at this point?

The Powers That Be

Camera model: NIKON D5 | Exposure time: 1/250s | Aperture: F6.3 | ISO speed: 400 | Lens: 24-70mm Zoom

This is Bernie Ecclestone on the grid with Russia’s deputy prime minister Dmitry Kozak. Just after the national anthem I followed them, they were trying to get rid of me but Bernie said it was OK. The deputy prime minister had his son with him and they asked Christian Horner to show him the car. While that was happening, Bernie is chatting to him on the grid explaining to him what’s happening and I don’t think anyone else got these shots. It’s just one of those moments you just have to capture. Vladimir Putin arrived later and we got the usual shot of his chat with Bernie in the grandstand opposite the media centre but I liked this one better as its up close to the pair having a talk.

Seventh Heaven

Camera model: NIKON D5 | Exposure time: 1/1000s | Aperture: F6.3 | ISO speed: 1600 | Lens: 500mm Telephoto

This was a wonderful shot in parc ferme. We didn’t get many shots of Rosberg during the race – away from the ordinary ones of the start, pit stops, finish shots –because he was so lonely out in front. When he pulled up the car he went looking for his mechanics and jumped in there, just like a rock star doing a crowd surf during a gig. From this elevated angle it made a really nice shot. It’s a happy moment — you want to see the drivers happy and celebrating these wins and this picture shows plenty of emotion at his seventh win in a row.

Four Wheels Good, Two Wheels Better

Camera model: NIKON D5 | Exposure time: 1/1000s | Aperture: F7.1 | ISO speed: 200 | Lens: 500mm Telephoto

I lucked in a bit with this one; a lot of things came down the inside of the circuit after the carnage at the first few corners. Sebastian Vettel came back after his shunt with Daniil Kvyat and I don’t think a lot of people would have got this because he crashed so far through Turn 3. This is what I call ‘a man moment’ — Vettel doesn’t want to be on the back, he just wants to drive the motorbike. The drivers do like to drive cars, they hate other people driving them around. I guess they like to stay in control. Just after this is taken, the marshal starts waving Vettel’s helmet in the air so he was clearly having a lot of fun himself.

The Aeroscreen

Camera model: NIKON D4S | Exposure time: 1/1000s | Aperture: F8 | ISO speed: 400 | Lens 70-200mm Zoom

This was the big story on Thursday and Friday in Russia, with Red Bull doing the seat fitting and then running the Aeroscreen the following morning. They tried to hide it at first because I think they were worried about showing people how the canopy is actually attached to the car, they had it behind all the mechanics. When they rolled it out on Friday morning we got a lot of close up shots but there was a ridiculous amount of photographers, it must have been about ten deep. We got a great collection of shots from his lap, like we did with the Ferrari Halo tests earlier in the year. I think with this Red Bull design they have a real chance to do something very interesting for broadcasting purposes, whether it’s LED lights on the front with driver numbers or name, something like they do in IndyCar.