• Life Through a Lens - Mark Sutton

Schumacher's party and Button's recovery

Mark Sutton
August 31, 2011

F1 photographer Mark Sutton picks his six favourite shots from the Belgian Grand Prix

Schumi's celebrations

First photo: Camera Model: Canon EOS-1D Mark IV | Lens: 16-35 mm @21 mm | Exposure: 1/60 Sec | Aperture: 5.0 © Sutton Images
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These were the gear ratios from the 191 which Michael ran in his first race because Gachot was in jail! Michael was brought in with the help of Norbert Haug - who was there and almost tearful - as one of his protégés. So it was his celebration and all of the drivers showed up, and in the second picture he'd just opened this keg of beer and given them all a glass, and no-one else was bothering to have a swig while Michael did! The Eddie situation was funny because they'd done all the other presentations but Eddie was hanging in the wings with his gear ratios knowing that he'd get one over everyone else and have his little piece on TV. I saw Eddie come in with a TV crew and thought I'd pick my cameras up again - because it wasn't really a photo night - probably because they didn't want shots of Michael getting drunk! Which was fine, everyone was having a few swigs but they probably didn't drink as much as Michael drank; he was on the keg serving all night. It was obviously Michael's weekend; everyone cheered him as he finished the race and having qualified fifth here at his first race he finished fifth on his 20th anniversary.

Shell girls

Camera Model: Canon EOS-1D Mark IV | Lens: 16-35mm | Exposure: 1/320 Sec | Aperture: 9.0 © Sutton Images
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The girls were just wandering through the paddock and I just thought it would be a good opportunity to get some shots of them, because we normally get them on the grid and it gets a bit samey having them standing alone with their car number. They were coming down the stairs and we stopped the people in charge and asked if we could do a little shoot. The guy who had specially designed these outfits for Shell was there and it was a good opportunity there because we got the reflection off the Ferrari truck and the outfits were quite sexy. I must admit that, looking at some of the outfits we normally get, they can be quite boring and not very sexy. If you've got nice looking girls with nice bodies you want an outfit that makes them look good, not one that makes them look worse! The girls were happy to smile and pose in their outfits and Shell got a lot of coverage. It was nice to get them all in a row, and that meant loads of cameramen were snapping away and I was sort of in charge of it all, telling them what to do, how to pose and where to look! The shot looking down on them was from the stairs going up to the pit building level, which made it a bit cleaner, and created a nice gallery of girl pictures which we always love to take.

Bernie alone

First photo: Camera Model: Canon EOS-1D Mark IV | Lens: 16-35 mm | Exposure: 1/250 Sec | Aperture: 10.0 © Sutton Images
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Bernie looks quite lost here - I'm not sure what or who he was looking for - but it was nice to get a shot of him on his own. We did the picture on the front of his biography which is quite similar in terms of the structure of the picture being a portrait. He was escorting Eric Clapton up and down the grid, and he seemed to be looking for someone on the grid but couldn't find them so he turned back. He went over to see Alguersuari because he'd qualified so well, but he doesn't normally go too far down the grid so that's about as far as he got. He wandered up and down with Eric, who was getting his photo taken with everyone because everyone knew who he was and he's such an approachable guy. Bernie had only just come back from his daughter Petra's wedding, but he looks quite sprightly so obviously didn't drink too much! Although obviously spent a lot of money being the father of the bride!

Button and Perez

Camera Model: Canon EOS-1D Mark IV | Lens: 500 mm | Exposure: 1/640 Sec | Aperture: 7.1 © Sutton Images
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I quite like this rear shot, which is quite interesting because Button had to come through the field. Having listened to him in the press conference, you could just tell that he loved the race, the start in particular he said was quite exciting, and having to come through from so far back kind of made the race. Jenson was pushing quite hard through the field and here he's battling with Perez having come round the outside of La Source. They're side by side, and he's kept the power on out of the hairpin. This is a bit different because it's from behind and he's out so wide - you think he'd lose grip on the kerb but obviously not - the momentum has taken him out wider and it's a natural move without using DRS. It's nice to see drivers battling it out, and you can see all of the other cars ahead of him too who he still has to clear, which was the story of his race; full of exciting overtaking coming through from the back.

McLaren nose

Camera Model: Canon EOS-1D Mark IV | Lens: 500 mm | Exposure: 1/1000 Sec | Aperture: 4.0 © Sutton Images
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I think this shot sums up the weekend really. It's shot on a 600mm lens, and you get the reflection of the Mercedes silver on a really nice black background, so it lights up. It was a bizarre weekend of weather; you had rain at one point and then sunshine and then a rainbow, it was a real odd mixture. I ended up one day going back to the hotel with sunburn! I was thinking how the hell did I get that?! But at this point the rain has fallen and the teams have left their nosecones out. It's not actually on the car it's on a stand, but what you find is that the teams clean the cars with a polish, and that tends to leave droplets like this, which is lovely. You wouldn't get that normally with an unwashed car, but obviously the mechanics are there to keep the car clean and make sure the sponsors are happy, and in this case it's the Mercedes logo. You've got to consider the depth of focus, when you're shooting on a long lens - and it's a telephoto lens - then you can shoot with very little depth of focus. So I reduced the aperture to 4, which will give you very little depth of focus. As you can see the star of the Mercedes is the sharpest point, but the sides are starting to fade already, and it knocks the background out. It's a lovely way to shoot.

Podium drinks

Camera Model: Canon EOS-1D Mark III | Lens: 500 mm | Exposure: 1/800 Sec | Aperture: 9.0 © Sutton Images
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I know these guys have been on the podium quite a lot but they were clinking bottles almost like it was a ritual, 'Here we are again, let's have a toast!' It was quite a funny moment; they'd all had a swig of champagne already, and they all sort of clinked the champagne bottles like a 'cheers' sort of thing. Vettel and Button seem pleased with themselves, but Webber seems to be realising that he should have won. He was quite animated in the press conference, and he probably should have won if it wasn't for the poor start which cost him his chance. Button and Vettel do seem to get on, they're stood close and facing Webber here, and in the press conference they were talking all the time. It was amazing how much they were chatting while Webber was talking. Button seems quite confident and proud, and he seems to have quite a rapport with Vettel which is evident here after the championship leader had chalked up another win.

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