• Life Through a Lens

Visions of Valencia

Mark Sutton
June 27, 2012

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

Aero paint

Top left image: Model: Canon EOS-1D Mark IV ¦ ISO Speed: 200 ¦ Aperture: 3.2 ¦ Focal length: 16 mm ¦ Exposure: 1/320 Sec ¦ Lens 16-35mm zoom © Sutton Images
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Red Bull are always looking to improve their car even though it's one of the best on the grid. Here you can see the aero paint they use to try and understand the airflow over the car and it was applied liberally to the RB8 in FP1. In Valencia they had this new exhaust and sidepod configuration that was a lot lower and they wanted to see what it was doing to the floor and rear wing so they put aero paint over the leading edge of the wing and around their brake ducts. When the car came back to the garage Adrian Newey stood around the back to get a close look and I managed to get this shot of his eyes focused on the paint. It's nice to see him so involved and active, because there are so many other people working in that department that you might think he wouldn't bother, but he's always on the grid looking at other cars and getting stuck in.

Dead Bull

Top left image: Model: Canon EOS-1D Mark IV ¦ ISO Speed: 200 ¦ Aperture: 13.0 ¦ Focal length: 17 mm ¦ Exposure: 1/250 Sec ¦ Lens 16-35mm Zoom © Sutton Images
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Of course Sebastian Vettel's Red Bull stopped on the track on Sunday and they didn't quite manage to get it back to the pits. It got halfway between the first corner and the pits so I was able to get a few shots of it by itself and I was able to go a little bit closer than normal. It's nice to be able to have a bit of freedom to take photos of the car and not have mechanics trying to shove you away and guard it. So to get a close up of the steering wheel and the rear of the car is a little bit unusual.

Alonso's garage

Model: Canon EOS-1D Mark IV ¦ ISO Speed: 1600 ¦ Aperture: 4.5 ¦ Focal length: 500 mm ¦ Exposure: 1/200 Sec ¦ Lens 500mm telephoto © Sutton Images
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They've put these new chairs in the Ferrari garage and they remind me of the chairs you see the teams sit on at football pitches. They make a nice photo, but the light is never quite right in the Ferrari garage because you have this red light rather than the pure white light you usually want to work with. But here you can see the very top of the Ferrari car, which is out of focus and giving this halo effect below. I was shooting over the car to get to him, because either a car or a mechanic is almost always in the way for these shots. So you have to be very patient and it can be a bit of a nightmare, with all the activity going on in the garage and wires hanging down. It's not easy to get everything pin sharp and properly exposed.

Mercedes wheel

Model: Canon EOS-1D Mark IV ¦ ISO Speed: 1600 ¦ Aperture: 4.5 ¦ Focal length: 500mm ¦ Exposure: 1/200 Sec ¦ Lens 500mm telephoto © Sutton Images
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I took this photo as they were moving the car out of the garage to do some pit stop practice and it was a really bizarre moment to see the steering wheel in full show on the top of the car. I was just stood in the pit lane with my 500mm lens and as they brought it out it was just positioned perfectly for me to shoot the front of it and then the back of it as they moved the car into position. I didn't even have to move! They're usually very secretive about these kinds of things, so it was nice to get such open photos of the wheel in plain sunlight.

Andrea Stella's champagne moment

Model: Canon EOS-1D Mark IV ¦ ISO Speed: 200 ¦ Aperture: 5.0 ¦ Focal length: 300mm ¦ Exposure: 1/640 Sec ¦ Lens 300mm telephoto © Sutton Images
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This was a nice podium to shoot because Andrea Stella - Fernando Alonso's current engineer - has actually worked on all three drivers' cars at Ferrari. Obviously he's had success with them all of them and was a part of Michael Schumacher's and Kimi Raikkonen's world championship successes. I should imagine it was made all the nicer for him as Alonso is now leading the championship this year and that will be his next target, to win with Fernando! It was a very unexpected result as we all thought we were going to see Sebastian Vettel dominate, but instead we had a great race right down to the last few laps and this unexpected podium was the result.

Force India on the rise

Model: Canon EOS-1D Mark IV ¦ ISO Speed: 400 ¦ Aperture: 9.0 ¦ Focal length: 500mm ¦ Exposure: 1/1000 Sec ¦ Lens 500mm telephoto © Sutton Images
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I like this shot because you can see the pit boards being hung out in the background, with the two Force India's being told that they're running fifth and sixth at that point. They were quite high up throughout the race and seemed step up a gear in Valencia, especially Nico Hulkenberg. It's was great result for Force India going to their local track at Silverstone and they always seem to pick up the pace around this time of year. They could be a team to watch going forward.

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