• Life Through a Lens - Mark Sutton

Button's 200th, Heidfeld's fire and Newey's notebook

Mark Sutton
August 4, 2011

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

Happy 200th!

First photo: Camera Model: Canon EOS-1D Mark IV | Lens: 16-35 mm @19 mm | Exposure: 1/60 Sec | Aperture: 2.8 © Sutton Images
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I was invited to Jenson Button's 200th GP drinks celebration on Saturday night and quite a few drivers and all his ex-team principals turned up - except Flavio Briatore of course! Jenson made a really nice speech, which was very humorous and had some good lines in it such as, "Hungary marks my 200th race and my Dad's 16,234th glass of wine the paddock - and I'm not counting by the way". It was very funny and all completely off the cuff. There were only three photographers shooting so it was nice not to be under too much pressure and to enjoy taking photos of the festivities. Jenson is one of the drivers my brother Keith helped out when he was in Formula Ford and he actually got him his first pass to a Formula One race in 1998 at Barcelona. He introduced Jenson to a lot of people and through our press service we helped introduce him to the world when he was winning everything in Formula Ford. So it was great to see him rack up his 200th race and even better to see him win it. My picture of him arriving in parc ferme with his hand out of the cockpit made the cover of GP Week and was one of my favourite shots of the weekend.

DRS activation

Camera Model: Canon EOS-1D Mark IV | Lens: 600 mm | Exposure: 1/500 Sec | Aperture: 9.0 © Sutton Images
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This is taken from the last corner where there is a gap in the fence so that a support vehicle can access the track. There's a drain that's lower than the track level and you can almost sit in it to get level with the surface of the circuit. It's an unusual angle to shoot from and you can get an idea of how low it is because you can see clear air underneath the car, which is running pretty low. Shooting from this angle you also get the mirage effect on the surface of the track which really adds to the photo. You can also see that Mark Webber has got the DRS wide open as he exits the corner for maximum attack down the straight. A lot of the drivers do go wide on this corner or get the car sideways, which makes for spectacular shots.

Heidfeld fire part two

First photo: Camera Model: Canon EOS-1D Mark IV | Lens: 600 mm | Exposure: 1/640 Sec | Aperture: 7.1 © Sutton Images
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I was quite lucky to be in the right place at the right time for this photo, although it would have been better without the Eni advertising hoarding at the top of the frame. I'm always very critical of my own work but that's how you move forward and improve your work. In this case I just saw it out of the corner of my eye as I was standing on the tower at turn one. After last year's incident with Michael Schumacher and Rubens Barrichello, I felt that it would be the best place to view as much action as possible. I saw the first sparks coming out of the side of the car as he was leaving the pits and then it burst into flames right under the Eni sign - a couple of metres further down the road and it would have been perfect for my photo! But like I say, I'm very critical of my own work and I like to have clean photos. It seemed to me that the marshals were quite slow arriving on the scene and that's when it blew up and spewed carbon fibre across the track. It looks spectacular even though I'm a fair distance away and it was an important photo to get. For Nick, it's his second fire of the season and very similar to the one he had in Barcelona, so hopefully, for his sake, there won't be any more any time soon.

Pit stop practise

Camera Model: Canon EOS-1D Mark IV | Lens: 70-200 mm @110 mm | Exposure: 1/500 Sec | Aperture: 16 © Sutton Images
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The teams are practising pit stops all the time over a grand prix weekend and in this photo you can see both the Mercedes and Renault teams doing a dummy run in final practice. This was taken towards the end of the Saturday morning session and, with the exception of the overalls and helmets, it's a complete dress rehearsal for the race. They also do practise stops between sessions but the cars are pushed into the pit box by mechanics and the difference here is that it's coming in full speed with its engine running. It's also about laying down some rubber in the pit box so that the drivers have the most grip when they come to do it for real in the race. In this photo you can also see Mercedes' unique front jack, which is basically like a bike's handlebars. The guy holding it is called Freddie because he looks like Freddie Mercury - he used to have a moustache to go with it but he's shaved it off now!

Pit lane life

Top photo: Camera Model: Canon EOS-1D Mark IV | Lens: 70-200 mm @70 mm | Exposure: 1/250 Sec | Aperture: 4.5 Bottom photo: Camera Model: Canon EOS-1D Mark IV | Lens: 70-200 mm @70 mm | Exposure: 1/1000 Sec | Aperture: 4.0 © Sutton Images
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I took these photos after qualifying and they are the kind of shots you only get if you resist the urge to run to the wire room and hang around in the pit lane instead. The one of Adrian Newey is great and it was taken after the team had done a full night's work on Friday and broken the mechanics' curfew. Even though Sebastian Vettel has taken pole position, it seemed as though there was still something that he was not quite happy about and he stayed in the garage after the session. It makes a nice photo to see him at work with his team, and with his ever-present notebook under his arm. The shot of Jenson and Lewis was also taken after qualifying as they stayed in the garage to digest their telemetry with their engineers. The McLaren guys often put headphones on and talk directly to the factory where they have a second team of number crunchers working through the data from the session. Of course the number of staff at the race is limited for the teams so they have quite a lot of work going on back at the factory and it all counts towards the team's success on race day.

Ricciardo lock-up

Camera Model: Canon EOS-1D Mark IV | Lens: 600 mm | Exposure: 1/640 Sec | Aperture: 5.6 © Sutton Images
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This is Daniel Ricciardo heading into the first corner during the race and locking a wheel. A lot of drivers were doing it because there is a bump in the track surface and that can cause the driver to snatch a brake as they hit the pedal. Daniel did it for a couple of laps in a row and I just managed to catch it the second time to show as much tyre smoke as possible. But despite the lock-ups, he had a good race and took his highest finishing position as he builds his experience for the future. The photo is also proof that the guys at the back are pushing just as hard as the guys at the front, even if you don't see much of them on TV. The backmarkers never know when there is going to be a race of high attrition and that's when these guys hope to pick up a good result or even some points.

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