• Life Through a Lens - Mark Sutton

Viva Valencia

Mark Sutton
July 1, 2011

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

A black art

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This was an interesting scene. I was out in the paddock after Saturday qualifying and these Ferrari engineers were looking over the tyres with a technician from Pirelli. In the picture you can see Fernando Alonso's race engineer Andrea Stella on the left and technical director Pat Fry on the right. There were no other photographers around so it was a great opportunity to get some photos of the engineers at work. What Pirelli do is take pictures of the tyres and analyse them on a computer; in on one of my photos from this sequence they are all looking at a hand-held computer which is obviously telling them information. It's all very complicated and I don't fully understand it, but it's quite rare that you see the guys at work like that in the paddock. We often take artistic pictures of tyre with backlights and all that, but to get a picture of people working with the tyres is always good.

Joking around

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These were taken on Thursday morning when I arrived at the track quite early. I saw Sebastian Vettel heading out to the track at about 10am and I followed him out. He started pulling these silly faces and doing all these hand actions, I don't know what the hell he was up to and I wasn't really listening to his conversation with his engineers, I was more concerned about getting some good shots. He turned around to me and joked: "Why are you always here when I pull funny faces?" I shook his hand and had a quick chat and by the time he got to the second corner I left him to it. I wasn't sure whether I should put them up on the Sutton website so I just left it to our photo editor to make the decision and he went for it. Later in the day I saw Seb's trainer, who had also been on the track walk, and he asked if I'd put the pictures up. I said yes and he said: "He'll look forward to seeing them later!" I asked if Seb had a twitter account because I wanted to tweet it to him, but sadly I was told that he doesn't have an official one.

Red Bull pool party

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This was taken by my brother Keith Sutton who has been attending the roof-top Red Bull pool parties since 2008 when F1 first went to Valencia. It all started when we were walking the track that first year and we were looking for vantage points to shoot the start. There is a photographers' tower at turn two, but we wanted something overlooking turn one. Keith decided to try a couple of apartments but had no luck until a guy working from Red Bull Spain recognised the Sutton logo on his arm and invited him in. Keith takes up the story: "When I got inside there were people everywhere, with a bar, a barbeque and a DJ all on the terrace. The bit overlooking the track was three people deep so there was no chance of shooting from there, but next to the people was an empty pool overlooking the circuit. Having got as far as I had, I thought I may as well ask if I could take my shoes and socks off and take photos from in there. David had no problem with it, so off came the shoes and socks and I captured a load of photos of the start that nobody else had. In the pool with me were a load of girls in bikinis, but I wasn't going to complain about that. It's three years on now but I've been back every time. Each year it's the same; I get some of the most amazing photos of the start and I do it in a swimming pool surrounded by gorgeous girls in bikinis. It doesn't get much better than that for an F1 photographer."

Turn 12 action

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This was my position for most of the race: the outside of turn 12. It was probably a mistake as it took such a long time to get out there from the paddock, but the plus side was that I was the only photographer on that side of the track. I was really hoping something big would happen because it's one of the DRS overtaking zones. There and turn 17 are action spots during the race and that was the two choice I had. Turn 12 is also where Mark Webber had his huge accident last year, which none of the photographers got. It's a nice angle because it's head on and if you were stood in the more popular position on the inside you would only get side-by-side shots. There are about 90 photographers at the grand prix so it was nice to get something exclusive, having said that I probably won't go back there next year!

Champagne moment

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This is an unusual angle because I was positioned down in parc ferme to get photos of the top three as they got out the car and I thought I'd try my luck and stay there for the podium. At first I couldn't see what was going on during national anthems and trophy presentation because I was tucked right under the rostrum where. But as the champagne started to flow Sebastian came forward and sprayed it into his mouth right above me. I think it's one of the best shots of the podium that weekend because I'm right underneath it and it's not obscured by spray or shadows. It's a great champagne moment, and you've got Valencia on the side of his hat so it's identifiable as the European Grand Prix.

The many faces of Mark Webber

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This was quite a funny sequence of pictures. They were taken after the race when Mark came back to the Energy Station in the paddock. I was just hanging around outside to pre-empt the usual celebration pictures and I saw him come back quite early. He went in, high-fived people and seemed happy - he said after the race that he was pleased with his performance even though he finished third rather than second. He then sat down and started talking to Christian Horner and I just popped my lens over one of the open windows and shot into the Energy Station. Webber creates some unusual faces at times and he certainly did during this sequence. He probably didn't see me because it was a bit like a paparazzi shot over this window, but it makes it all the more interesting as you get to see his expressions as he talks with just him and Christian.

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