Life Through a Lens: Japanese Grand Prix

Life Through a Lens: Japanese Grand Prix

F1 photographer Mark Sutton talks ESPN through his best shots from the Japanese Grand Prix

Fanatical About F1

Sutton Images

Camera body: Nikon D5 | Lens: Nikkor 24-70mm F2.8 | Shutter speed: 1/250th | Aperture: F5.6 | ISO – 400

The fans in Japan are just amazing. I love going over to the fan area, talking to them and signing autographs for them. They just want to shake your hand and it got to a point where I just wanted to take a selfie with them! At one point there was a massive group of them and they started shouting my name, so I thought I’ve got to get a photo with them as well. You can see the passion among those that get dressed up and because we promote it through photographs and social media new fans tend to push the boundaries each year and do new things. They are such pleasant people and when you ask for a picture you barely ever get turned down — they love it! There’s no other place like it and it makes Suzuka that bit more special to come back to each year.

Spider Alley

Sutton Images

Camera body: Nikon D5 | Lens: Nikkor 70-200mm F2.8 | Shutter speed: 1/320th | Aperture: F5.6 | ISO: 400

This was taken after Esteban Gutierrez stopped with a turbo problem in FP2 and had to walk back to the pits. The funny thing is that he is walking back along the narrow path we photographers have to take to get out to the Degner corners and 130R. You can see how narrow it is between the crash barrier and the fencing and it’s known among the snappers as “Spider Alley”. Everyone tends to wear long-sleeve shirts for fear of being bitten by all the spiders down there, but Esteban was probably unaware when he was walking down there! They are some serious spiders and they come in some serious colours, but I’m not sure if they are actually poisonous. Obviously, it’s a perfect environment for them, but it’s just a shame that we have to share that same environment to take some of our most iconic Suzuka photos!

A Blast From The Past

Sutton Images

Camera body: Nikon D5 | Lens: Nikkor 70-200mm F2.8 | Shutter speed: 1/320th | Aperture: F5.6 | ISO: 400

I was a little surprised to see Stoffel Vandoorne walking down the pit lane in his race overalls and then someone pointed out that he was doing a demo run in the 1989 McLaren MP4/5. I went round to the grid expecting to see Ayrton Senna’s car, but actually it was Alain Prost’s — the one that won the championship following the famous collision at the chicane. Those cars are just legendary and the noise is fantastic. The cockpit is so open and it reminds you of the changes the sport has made in the last 27 years. The steering wheel has just a couple of switches and they only had very basic radio communications back in those days. I could hear Stoffel talking about it and he was very surprised by how basic it was too. It was amazing to see him go and complete a lap at Honda’s home track in Suzuka.

Down The Line

Sutton Images

Camera body: Nikon D5 | Lens: Nikkor 70-200mm F2.8 | Shutter speed: 1/320th | Aperture: F6.3 | ISO: 400

I’m not sure what Nico Rosberg was looking at here, but it makes a nice photo. We take a variation of this shot at most weekends as the drivers line up for the national anthem, and I was shooting along the line to get photos of Lewis Hamilton and Nico. All of a sudden he just poked his head out from beyond the line and it’s a nice shot because it’s clean with no one obstructing it.

One Step Closer

Sutton Images

Camera body: Nikon D5 | Lens: Nikkor 70-200mm F2.8 | Shutter speed: 1/500th | Aperture: F6.3 | ISO: 800

This is taken from a platform outside the media centre that’s on the same level of the podium. They only allow 10 photographers to go out on it to take photos, but you are never quite sure what you are going to get. This photo works well because Nico is leaning forward slightly and punching the air with the trophy. You get the expression of emotion that came with his ninth win of the year, but I’ve also noticed that his celebrations have changed this season as he’s become more focused on the championship. As the year has gone on he has talked less and become more subdued as it has become clear that this is a very good chance for him to secure the title. It’s almost like he is not giving us 100 percent of his emotions until the title is his, so I guess that will come when he wins it. The way things are going at the moment, I can see him winning all four of the remaining races but it all depends on Lewis’ reaction at the next round in Austin.

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Life Through a Lens: Malaysian Grand Prix

Life Through a Lens: Malaysian Grand Prix
F1 photographer Mark Sutton talks ESPN through the best shots from the Malaysian Grand Prix, including Kevin Magnussen’s scary pit-lane fire and Lewis Hamilton’s potentially title-deciding engine failure.

Magnussen’s Pit-Lane Fire

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Rubio/Sutton Images
Mark Sutton/Sutton Images

Camera model: NIKON D5 | Exposure time: 1/800 s | Aperture: F14 | ISO speed : 1000

This was a quick moment and one of our photographers, Jose Rubio, was right there to capture it as Kevin Magnussen’s car caught fire. He did a great job of capturing how quickly Magnussen had to get out the car. When this is happening in front of you, you just snap away at the moment, you don’t really have time to think too much about it.

When this happened, I ran down to the pit-lane and saw Jose. He said he had caught the fire and so he went back to the media centre to upload them — when you have images like that, speed is key. It meant I was there to take pictures of the aftermath as they put the car out. It was spectacular, a bit like a warzone, there was dust everywhere… some people weren’t keen to get that close to it. We managed to get both the fire and the aftermath, giving us a nice sequence of shots that did really well on our social media channels and went quite viral. It also reginited the debate about Halo and whether he would have been hampered in getting out of the car with it on his car — an important debate if Halo is to come in for 2018 as planned.

Hamilton’s Heartbreak

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Mark Sutton/Sutton Images
Rubio/Sutton Images

This was another one caught by Jose, who was on the inside of the corner and snapped it as Hamilton came through the corner, head in hands. It could be an iconic shot from the season — a bit like Michael Schumacher’s engine going in China in 2006. Like the Magnussen shot, when you get this kind of moment happening in front of you that’s all you can do. We had some trouble uploading the shot afterwards, which meant it wasn’t immediately available to us.

I was stood on the exit of the corner and was able to get Hamilton climbing out of the car and kneeling down in a prayer position. The last one is a significant picture for us: Lewis shared it on his Instagram feed with an explanation of his feelings and a defence of Mercedes after the race. He’s the most followed driver there by a long way, and it was his most “liked” shot ever — meaning it must be the most successful social F1 image ever. It tells an amazing story about that moment, his feelings.

The Shoey

Mark Sutton/Sutton Images
Mark Sutton/Sutton Images

Camera model : Nikon D5 | Exposure time: 1/1640 s | Aperture: F5.6 | ISO speed: 400 | Lens: 70-200mm zoom with 1.4 converter

Everyone loves Daniel Ricciardo and when he does stuff like this is not hard to see why. I think everyone wanted to see him win a race after what happened in Spain and especially Monaco. He’s got this infectious personality and it’s so nice to see his excitement on the podium. Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg have looked slightly reserved and unemotional on the podium in recent times but Ricciardo looks completely different — like every win is his first.

The shoey is becoming super popular and it suits his personality perfectly. There were lots of Australian fans there and as soon as he arrived they were chanting “Shoey! Shoey! Shoey!” When he won, I knew he’d said he would only do it if he won again so I was prepared for the shoey — I didn’t expect him to make all three of them to do it as well! It was a great sight, especially when Mark Webber then threw the shoe off the podium!