• Life Through a Lens

Pacing the pack

Mark Sutton
May 28, 2014

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

Hamilton's big secret

Camera model: Nikon D4 | Exposure time: 1/500s | Aperture: F4.8 | ISO speed: 2000 | Lens: 70-200mm zoom with 1.7 x Converter © Sutton Images
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This was taken on the Wednesday before the track action kicked off and Lewis Hamilton was riding him motorbike from his home in Monaco to the paddock. From what I was told the bike's battery needed charging because he hardly uses it when he's away, which was why it was in the garage. My attention was first caught by the alarm, which was going off for some reason, so I went up to see what all the fuss was about. I saw Lewis in the back of the garage by himself taking his hat off and putting his helmet on and that's when I snapped this shot of the back of his head. For some reason he is very secretive about his hair cut at the moment and always wears a hat, but as a photographer that makes you even keener to get a photo - just like if a team is trying to conceal a part of its car. He's been growing his hair back for four or five races, and on the grid he seems absolutely obsessed with getting his hat on before anyone can get a picture. I don't know what's going on, but we've got the picture now so it's out there for everyone to see.

Pit-lane reflections

Camera model: Nikon D4 | Exposure time: 1/1000's | Aperture: F7.1 | ISO speed: 200 | Lens: 500mm telephoto © Sutton Images
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This is a typical Monaco shot, and I know it's been done before, but it's still difficult to get right. The curve of the mirrored visor can distort the car quite a lot, so timing is crucial to getting it right. You don't know what speed the car is going down the pit lane and I was shooting this almost opposite the Mercedes garage. You can see he's about to go into the pit garage to do a burnout on the pit box and this just gives you something completely different of a fairly mundane task in the pit lane. I shot this on a 500mm lens and so you can see the background is completely knocked out in terms of focus and all you have is the helmet with the Monaco logo and the car reflected in it. It's just a nice clear picture.

Remembering Sir Jack

Camera model: Nikon D4 | Exposure time: 1/320s | Aperture: F7.1 | ISO speed: 400 | Lens: 70-200mm lens © Sutton Images
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It's important to remember Sir Jack Brabham, a three-time world champion who sadly passed away last week, and this was Formula One's way of paying tribute to him. I knew his sons quite well, mainly Gary and David, from my early career of covering Formula 3 and Formula 3000. Sir Jack put all his sons through the British motor racing scene, and I think the only one that didn't come through was Jeff Brabham, who tended to stay in America. What was quite poignant was that I'd been the archive a few weeks ago looking for old Roland Ratzenburger pictures and I found a picture of David, Gary, Jeff, Sir Jack and his wife at Oulton Park in 1989 and I'd got them in a sheet ready to scan a week or so before he died. So it was all a bit eerie to be honest that those pictures were ready to scan. It was great on Sunday that the five current world champions on the grid were all there ready to do a little memorial shot and say thanks very much. It's good the drivers made time on the grid, because they are so busy with interviews and final briefings with engineers, but these five were there to pay their respects.

The bigwigs

Camera model: Nikon D4 | Exposure time: 1/320s | Aperture: F10 | ISO speed: 400 | Lens: 70-200mm zoom © Sutton Images
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I like this shot of Bernie Ecclestone and Jean Todt on the grid. I don't know what Bernie was saying to him, I wish I could lip read! They were chatting before two or three minutes before all the cars and entourage came on, and they were having a heated discussion with Bernie remonstrating with his hands so you could almost read what he was saying from his hand movements. I find it quite funny that they are both the same height and obviously they are the two bosses of Formula One. It's good to see them chatting on the grid together and they could be talking about any number of things, from what will happen with Sochi to the noise of the cars. To know for certain what's going on you'd have to be able to mind read and lip read!

A measured approach

Camera model: Nikon D4 | Exposure time: 1/1000s | Aperture: F8 | ISO speed: 200 | Lens: 70-200mm Zoom © Sutton Images
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This was before the safety car restart and you can see Nico Robserg holding the field back to make sure he gets the perfect run on them at the start of the next lap. It's a good photo to sum up the weekend, because he's in control, as he was in qualifying when he braked at Mirabeau and as he was leading the race from pole position. As we've seen in the past, the one who's on pole almost always leads and wins unless there is a pit stop problem, changing weather or a mechanical issue.

A job well done

Camera model: Nikon D4 | Exposure time: 1/250s | Aperture: F16 | ISO speed: 800 | Lens: 70-200mm zoom © Sutton Images
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To wrap up the weekend I like this photo of Nico Rosberg with champagne bottle in hand heading towards the array of photographers, marshals, police and whoever else is lined up! I don't get involved in that scrum because it looks like absolute carnage. I see it every year and I always try to avoid it because I know the champagne will be handed to the drivers as they come off the podium and they don't care who ends up doused in it. There's one photographer who looks a bit scared actually! But it's a huge lottery as to the photos you'll get because there is a line of marshals and then you are behind them and you don't know where they are going to go. You can see Nico is loving it and he has the right angle for the full squirt into the face or into the lens! It was a nice end to a good weekend, made all the better because things at Mercedes are just bubbling now ahead of the next race.

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