• Mark Sutton's 2012 photo review

The season in photos - Part two

Mark Sutton
December 14, 2012

F1 photographer Mark Sutton picks his favourite shots from the second half of the season

Hungary - Lewis celebrates

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After doing the parc ferme shot when Lewis was saluting his team, we managed to get his attention and get him to look up. We were just shouting and there were three times he looked up at us, which is good. It creates a great shot because he's looking right at us as he sprays the champagne. I was just swapping between lenses for different shots but it was quite tight; you never actually see where we shoot from but there were five of us up there and the space for five was not good! It was restricted but I pulled a fast one and didn't tell anyone I was going up there. I managed to sort it out just before the race and it turned out to be worth it. It's all about getting the best pictures at the end of the day and getting something unusual - something from a different angle that nobody else has got. Hopefully that convinces the editors to use the pictures more because they've got something completely different.

Belgium - The big one

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It's difficult to know when you're shooting a photo like this who is to blame. I captured it from the start and I followed Romain Grosjean as his car flew into the air and I could also see Fernando in the air, but I didn't really see anything of Lewis. If you look at the frame sequence and how long it took, it probably took five seconds max and if you watch it on TV you don't really see the height that these guys get, unless you watch it in car. It's hard to fully see the ferocity of the accident and the explosion of carbon fibre that happens until you see it in a picture. On TV you saw Lewis walking back to the garage with a bit of his car and that's because he found it in the pit lane! It came off his car with such force that it flew into the pit lane exit by the lights, which is just incredible and actually quite scary.

Italy - Forza Alonso

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I thought this was a very funny moment from Fernando, and shows his state of mind to be quite the opposite to race-winner Lewis Hamilton's at the time. He was in such a good mood all weekend; Alonso was present for a Ferrari presentation after a guy from Google won an auction for a 599 XX that was raising money for earthquake victims. However, having done his bit he then took a photo with his iPhone from the photographers' position to put on Twitter and probably beat us to uploading the picture! Franco from FOM is the cameraman who Fernando took this camera from; he knows the drivers and usually has them kissing into his lens or getting soaked! Fernando's trying to get them to wave here and the pictures were actually broadcast by FOM. I also noticed Fernando signed loads of autographs one morning when the rest of the drivers just walk in with a token wave for the fans. Alonso spent a good ten minutes making sure everyone got what they wanted from him. No wonder the Tifosi love him so much.

Singapore - Dream team

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When I took this photo we didn't know Lewis and Nico Rosberg would be teamed up at Mercedes in 2013. They've been good mates and rivals since their karting days and now they will be in the same team together. I took the photo on the Friday evening after the drivers' briefing, which is a good opportunity to get photos of the drivers. But this time there were absolutely no other photographers around because it's almost like people do their work and leave because by then it's the early hours of the morning. I hang around because I always think there is more work to do, but other people just tend to disappear - not that I'm complaining.

Japan - Fanatical fans

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It seemed that this year the fans were the craziest I'd seen them for a long time, probably since the Senna and Mansell days. I don't know why, but they just seem to be getting a bit more back in to it now with home-made samurai swords, engines on their backs, cars on top of their heads and flags; they seem to be making a lot of their own stuff and then mixing it with official stuff. It's very funny and they're so enthusiastic, it's brilliant, I love it. They're probably the most enthusiastic fans of the year. Some of the shots were taken Friday and some were taken race day, and I actually went in to the crowd on race day - which was a bit bizarre - and had a little wander round. I gave out a few of the Sutton and GPWEEK cards to fans I'd taken pictures of and the next minute there were hands coming in left, right and centre because they all wanted something that was free! So I gave out about 500 cards in a couple of minutes and it actually felt a bit dangerous like when drivers sign their autographs. I signed a few and it was quite nice having to do that because the drivers don't tend to go in the public area so for the fans to see someone from the paddock go out in the merchandise area was quite rare. It was good to go out there and meet the fans, mention this column I do for ESPN and give out the cards so it was a good PR exercise, but mainly a good experience in terms of meeting people because they are completely bonkers!

Korea - The Iceman cometh

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They say that nobody's interested in motorsport in Korea but they are - there are a lot of fans there. There are a lot of fans that have got particular favourites as drivers, and someone pointed this sign out to me. So I went over and shot it through the fence - I took the hood off my lens and luckily you can fit the 70-200mm through a fence - and it makes me laugh. They do love Kimi, he's a bit of a character and it's a bit tongue in cheek. There were a few banners like that, I'm not sure where they got them from but I think it's just race fans. It's a very funny sign.

India - A land of contrasts

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This is a nice picture and really highlights the contrast you see when you're in India. It's probably one of the oldest tractors in existence and there it is trundling past a Red Bull that's probably worth $5 million; the tractor's probably worth $5 in scrap metal! It's the fact that outside the track you've got people living in poverty right next door to this multi-million pound circus in this track. I think the reason it was there was because they were doing some repairs to the track barriers and this was the only tractor with a welding kit. Maybe it's a classic, I don't know, but it makes a great contrast with the F1 car in the background.

Abu Dhabi - King Kimi

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It was obviously an amazing victory for Kimi after all his great results during the year, and people were doubting whether he was going to win a race. He was lucky in one sense as Lewis broke down, but he drove a great race (from what I saw of it as I was shooting it from a helicopter!) and there was jubilation at the end. This is a picture that actually shows him celebrating; Kimi's a man of few words and even fewer emotions! As the radio messages to him during the race showed, he can be in a world of his own at times. It's a nice shot I've taken from the paddock club - I wanted to take it from the grandstand area but people had been waiting there the whole race - so this was the best position I could get. It just gives you a different angle looking down on Kimi as he celebrates and it's been hit by a side flash, so it just filled it in a little bit.

USA - Lights out

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It was really weird taking pictures of the start; I did the grid and then managed to get a shuttle bus up to turn one which saved me a five minute walk so it was great. We'd been there a few times and what they've done is create a high tower at turn one. Basically if you were shooting it from the ground there would be a blind spot where you wouldn't see the cars because of the angle of the hill, so what they had to do was build the tower tall enough so there wouldn't be a blind spot when the start happened. So you've got to take your hats off to the organisers because they thought about it. It's probably the biggest start tower in the world as it's two layers and if you compare it to the Indian tower which has a lot of holes in it, no stairs and no safety features, it's so different. They have a lot of health and safety regulations in America so the start tower was amazing compared to the likes of India. And then the start itself was a bit different; because they've made it so wide it's not your typical start shot. As they get to the brow the field spreads across the track and I think that's probably the reason there wasn't a crash, but it was still spectacular. The crowd was going mental on the first lap and you could actually here it, you could hear people shouting things like "Yee haw" - it was a real Texan welcome to Formula One and the noise from the crowd was just awesome.

Brazil - 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 and 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 a 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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