• Life Through a Lens - Mark Sutton

Six of the best from Germany

Mark Sutton
July 27, 2011

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

Vettel's Top Gear charades

Camera Model: Canon EOS-1D Mark IV | Lens: 16-35mm | Exposure: 1/320 Sec | Aperture: 10.0 © Sutton Images
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Vettel had arrived back in the paddock having completed his Top Gear run in the Reasonably Priced Car, and this was the moment he'd come back in to the paddock and saw Nick Heidfeld and was just talking to him about his laps and about how crap the car was! He was explaining that it was really bad oversteer and really bad understeer, but he was pretty pleased. I think he just enjoyed the whole experience and warmed to the crowd. It was good to see him laughing, he had arrived reasonably early and it is very rare to see a driver just stood around talking and when those sort of things do happen you've got to pounce on it.

The Nurburgring weather

Camera Model: Canon EOS-1D Mark IV | Lens: 16-35mm | Exposure: 1/160 Sec | Aperture: 2.8 © Sutton Images
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This picture is on the Thursday, but we did have a massive downpour after the race too, which the teams weren't too happy about as they don't like putting stuff away wet. It was crazy weather on Thursday, it was like being in Malaysia, the weather was just building and building. We were in the Eifel Mountains which can be nice but can be really bad. The rain seems to be following us for some reason! You can see that people are still working under umbrellas, because they had to get their tyres. But the funny thing about this one is that the Virgin mechanic has got a load of slicks! It looked odd, but obviously they knew the weather would change. It still made for some funny pictures though, luckily I was hiding under the Red Bull trucks to keep dry but still shoot.

Buemi locks up

Camera Model: Canon EOS-1D Mark IV | Lens: 500mm telephoto | Exposure: 1/640 Sec | Aperture: 6.3 © Sutton Images
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This was down in to the first corner, and was typical of all of the drivers over the weekend. It's hard on the brakes because it's downhill, so you're braking on that camber - it's like driving a car down a mountain; you can smell the brakes on the way down as they are made to work harder. The first corner was a brilliant place to see drivers trying to be precise, here Buemi has locked up, but then you also have the big drop in the middle of the turn too. It was great to watch Kobayashi and Alonso every lap throwing it in and banging it over the kerb, and you can really see the wings flex as they go in. The cars take a real hammering through there as drivers often lock up and then attack the kerb as they try to find time.

Nosey Newey

Camera Model: Canon EOS-1D Mark IV | Lens: 16-35 mm | Exposure: 1/250 Sec | Aperture: 13.0 © Sutton Images
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I think I selected something similar last year, but it's amazing that Newey is still looking and is still inquisitive about what is on the back of that car; he just seems to be looking at the rear of it. The Red Bull is clearly the best car and I almost don't see why he needs to look, but this is the only opportunity he gets to look at other cars. What's quite funny is he still has his notepad under his arm; he still writes everything down and he's not the kind of guy to use CAD. It all seems to go in to his head and then I think he writes things down on the pit wall. As someone who's at the cutting edge of design and technology it's surprising that he uses his notepad rather than an iPad, but he's set in his ways and very, very clever.

The lead battle

Camera Model: Canon EOS-1D Mark IV | Lens: 600mm telephoto | Exposure: 1/640 Sec | Aperture: 7.1 © Sutton Images
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Here Hamilton has just re-taken Webber and is defending in to turn one, and what's interesting is that you can see they've crossed in to the pit lane exit. I thought they were banned from doing that as it could be quite dangerous and you could in theory have a massive crash. I had positioned myself at the first corner and the amount of overtaking was unbelievable. It's almost like the DRS zone closed cars up ready for turn one, and the fact that the corner is downhill, fairly wide and almost the perfect corner for overtaking. I wish I'd stayed there thinking about it now as there was a lot of overtaking there that I missed, but as a photographer you want to move around and get some different shots and perspectives on the race, but it's typical that you'll miss some things, you can't be everywhere at once. It's all about a bit of luck in this business.

Hurdling Hamilton

Camera Model: Canon EOS-1D Mark IV | Lens: 70-200mm | Exposure: 1/320 Sec | Aperture: 6.3 © Sutton Images
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We're normally behind the second barrier where the teams are, but when we were let in to parc ferme we were allowed up to the first fence. So we were sort of in front of all the team. Lewis got out of the car, did all of his celebrations and then was looking around for his team. When he saw the team over behind the mass of photographers he decided to bounce off his car, took a couple of steps and then 'boom'; straight over the barrier. I was perched on the pit wall and I couldn't see where he went so I just shot him bouncing over the wall. It's quite funny seeing the reactions of some of the photographers who are totally unprepared for it with the wrong lenses on. Fortunately I had pre-empted it and got him just as he jumped; he looks like a hurdler or someone mounting a horse. That's the thing with Formula One; sometimes you're lucky and you've got the right lens on and sometimes you don't know what the hell is going to happen! It's not the cleanest picture in the world but I think the photographers around him add to the shot.

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