• Life Through a Lens

Pure emotions in Brazil

Mark Sutton
November 29, 2012

F1 photographer Mark Sutton picks his six favourite photos from the season finale in Brazil

Seb on Friday

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This was the team shot on the Friday night and it was just a great opportunity for me to get portraits. I decided to go to the side to shoot Seb on my long lens - the 500mm - and at one point he looked round, which was great. It's a nice, clean background against the sky. It's a lovely blue sky but you can't see it; he's in the shade so that's why it's a bit washed out. Vettel was quite tense at this point, I must admit. At one point he noticed somebody that didn't look right and decided to talk to Mark and said "I think he works for another team". But this guy was with his girlfriend and taking pictures on his iPhone! So he went up to him and looked at his pass and was like "Oh yeah, typical Ferrari" - I think he's a bit paranoid sometimes. In this case he was paranoid, he was more worried about the guy on his iPhone but all the photographers around got way more shots of the car. It seemed to create a little bit of tension but he was adamant this guy was from another team; he was quite tense over the whole weekend to be honest. The shot on the right is just before the shoot and is lovely light. The low sun actually made them delay the shoot because everyone would have been squinting, but it made for a nice shot here. Seb had to wait around a lot until the sun went down and he was playing around with the front jack in the garage; he just seemed to be very fidgety and tense knowing the weather forecast and what lay ahead.

Hamilton's parting shot

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McLaren did a team shot as well, and afterwards they said let's do a team shot for Lewis. At first we were going to do it with the car that was in the pit lane but it was Button's car, so Lewis was like "Let's do it on mine" and went and jumped on his car. The team allowed us up to the garage pit lane marker and we were able to shoot really close, which was nice. It was a nice little memento for him I suppose, especially as he didn't come back with the goods. He also ran this Thank You McLaren logo on his helmet for the team, and pointed to it in parc ferme when he had taken pole position and new cameras would be on him. It was just that sort of weekend for Lewis with the focus being on his final race more than anything else.

Schumacher flies the flag

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This was quite a funny story, because I was doing all the grid pictures and had started from the back and moved to the front. Then I saw on the big screen that Michael was driving round with this flag and I thought "I need to get a picture of that" because Keith was on the grid and doing turn two so would have missed it, turn one would have missed it because he's already out of the pit lane, and the other guy on the back straight was on the wrong side! So I had to run down to the back of the grid again, so I was running down the middle of the pit lane and everyone was looking at me saying "Where are you going?" but I didn't have time to explain so just ran to the beginning of the pit lane, went past the FIA guys and managed to get in position. I just wanted a shot of the flag itself flapping in the air, but this was at the end of the lap so he had slowed down a little bit and it's not as clear as I wanted it to be. But at least it's a shot with the flag, unless you were on the track you wouldn't have got it. Carrying a flag in the cockpit is supposed to be banned - I think to stop them slowing down and getting things at the end of the race - but because it was Michael it didn't really matter.

Vettel's horror moment

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I came off the grid and couldn't decide whether to do turn 10 or elsewhere. I usually do the wide shot of turn 10 as it's like a hairpin but as it was raining I thought I'd get a bit closer and went to turn 8 so I could shoot across to turns 4 and 5. From here I can shoot across with the long lens and do the rest on the zoom lens or the wide lens, but I got in position and I couldn't really see beyond some trees to turns 4 and 5. I knew something would happen down there - it usually does every year - so moved further down a bank and got a good shot. I got my 500 ready and panned them down the straight so that I was literally ready for anything to happen. I saw this unfolding and just kept my finger on the button, followed it down and got 30 or 40 frames of it. These four are probably the best, I've blown it up a little bit but it's pretty much as you see it.

Romain wrecks his Lotus

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I didn't really see the crash but I heard it on the Fanvision and it alerted me. A lot of people just got on the kerb and lost it - I think di Resta was the same and Maldonado too - but he hit the tyres at 9.5G I heard. It was a huge impact because it's a quick corner and it's banked so if you do lose it you're heading off at high speed. That's what the tyres are there for and they did save him I suppose, but the smoke coming out of the car creates quite a nice image and you can see it's totally wrecked. I'm sure Lotus got another hefty bill for repairs! I shot this from the same spot as Vettel's crash; I've just spun around. It was on the 500 from a mega distance, but with the quality of the cameras these days we are able to blow them up and turn them in to usable, relatively close in shots.

Vettel's victory moment

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I can't pick a favourite out of these. With Schumacher beside him is a good moment, it's like the changing of the guard I suppose. They were side-by-side in parc ferme and it was a carnage moment as all the photographers were waiting and as soon as he came in we all ran to the car, it was a bit crazy. I got a reasonable position - you're never happy with what you've got - but I did a decent job with everyone else behind me. Then he went and sat on the car which was quite a nice shot as he pretended to be a bullfighter sat on the bull. Next he ran over to the team and the team picture was also carnage as we were all running through parc ferme after him, at any other race we probably would have been banned! Then I went across to the gate to go towards the TV pen and all of a sudden Seb and Christian Horner came over, so it was just me, two photographers and a TV camera. I was just shooting away and capturing really nice emotions as Christian was shouting at him "You've done it, you've done it, your third title" but I don't think Seb could take it all in. Christian had hold of his head and was shaking it with pure emotions and it seemed Seb couldn't believe it. These are the photos that show the real emotions; I didn't shoot the race podium or Red Bull's podium set-up because although they were great they're part of the script, not the immediate reaction or emotion which we really want.

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