- Mark Sutton - Life Through a Lens
A little bit of history repeating
The sense of history at Monza is very special and anybody visiting for the first time will get swept up in the atmosphere and the old banking now lies dormant.
On Friday afternoon I went to Parabolica - a corner virtually unchanged from the original layout - and was hit by a sense of nostalgia and déjà vu. Someone had cut some holes in the catch fencing where I'd never been able to shoot before and instantly the angle reminded me of some pictures we have in our archive from the 1960s. We've got an iconic shot of Jim Clark winning back in 1963 and it was shot from that exact point by David Phipps.
So I sat there waiting for a Lotus to come past and tried to recreate the image 47 years later. In my picture there is a grandstand in the background but the corner itself is virtually unchanged. It's quite amazing. It seemed a bit strange to me because it's the first time I've been able to shoot that angle and I've no idea why there was a hole there this time round. To be honest it's a nothing picture compared to some of the others we take at Monza, but for comparison's sake it is worth a shot.
Parabolica is such a brilliant and challenging corner, even in modern F1 cars, and the shots from the tower over the apex of the corner have always been a favourite. They've actually strengthened that tower recently so hopefully it will have another couple of decades use in it and again we can get the comparison shots down the years.
Standing there you can tell which drivers are pushing and which drivers aren't, and the lack of downforce on the slower cars is actually visible as they squirm around. It's slightly banked so the drivers can enter it on opposite lock and get away with it, it's an amazing corner to stand at and watch. It's fully recommended.
As things turned out they were treated to a brilliant Ferrari victory and, as always, a fantastic podium celebration. But to let you in on a little secret, getting that big red Ferrari flag on the track is all planned and rehearsed beforehand. They let the people with the flag in the gate early and then they can get on the finish line before anybody else. I think it must be a friend of a friend who lets them in, because they are all waiting at the right gate to get on the track first. But it's no bad thing as it means that that flag is always on pole!
It makes for good photos but the ultimate vantage point would be on the podium looking down. It's difficult to show that many people unless you are really high up but you can still convey a sense of the atmosphere. The podium is a real one off; no other track has put the podium over the track like that and it creates a real buzz for both the drivers and the fans.
Another bit of nostalgia came after the race when Fernando Alonso left the media pen, where they do the interviews, and was immediately swarmed by bodyguards. I was hoping to get a photo, but I wasn't about to get involved in the bun fight with Ferrari guys and police, so I just popped my camera in the scrum and shouted Fernando's name. He couldn't see where I was but he still gave the thumbs up and it actually made a perfect picture. Meanwhile all the other snappers were running backwards and falling over themselves, probably with one good shot between the lot of them.
Next up is Singapore which is a track that we really enjoy. It's a beautiful circuit with loads of interesting backgrounds and then of course the night factor. It's nice that some of the practice sessions take place at dusk so we can get some pictures in the daylight as well, with the skyline in the background.
The last two years we've had dry weekends - touch wood - but it is the rainy season out there at the moment and it's only a matter of time until a thunder storm coincides with one of the sessions. Wet weather would present a whole new challenge for both the drivers and us, so it'll be interesting to see what happens.
But for shooting at night we've now got the Canon EOS 1D Mark IV cameras and they will help a lot because they work remarkably well in low-light conditions. We didn't have them last year and the ability to shoot at higher ISO levels means we can get much brighter photos and you will be able to notice the difference compared to last year.
We're also working for the organisers and will have a big seminar and exhibition on display so that's something to look forward to. Add to that the parties and music concerts they have each year and it should be a great weekend. Bring it on.