• Life Through a Lens - Mark Sutton

A weekend of Tifosi and tyres

Mark Sutton
September 15, 2011

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

Alonso's signing session

First photo: Camera Model: Canon EOS-5D Mark II | Lens: 16-40 mm zoom | Exposure: 1/500 Sec | Aperture: 7.1 © Sutton Images
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It was carnage, absolutely crazy, it was about 15 deep there and it was actually quite dangerous at one point. What I've done here is just held the camera in the air, I'm not on a ladder or very tall! I just prefocused it and then held it up, which gives more of an atmospheric picture. It's great that spectators with the three day tickets are allowed in on the Thursday, which I can't believe they don't do at Silverstone to be perfectly honest. If they've bought a ticket for three days, why don't they have an autograph signing on the Thursday and let people in to see the pits? It works well at quite a lot of tracks; a lot of European tracks do it on the Thursday, and it's great that they do it at Monza. The Tifosi are obviously fanatical about Ferrari and with Fernando they were just going mental, so this shot just shows the atmosphere of the circuit all weekend.

Webber retires

Bottom right image: Camera Model: Canon EOS-1D Mark IV | Lens: 16-35mm | Exposure: 1/125 Sec | Aperture: 14.0 © Sutton Images
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All these shots are handheld as I'd lost my monopod while I was there, which made it a bit tougher for me. What we try and do as an agency is spread everything around, not everyone's at the first corner every race. If I was on my own I would probably be at the first corner every race, but I'm not and to be perfectly honest I don't want to be because I think it becomes a little bit stale. So in some races like in Valencia, here and some other tracks I'll make a commitment to go somewhere else and do my bit because I don't mind other people taking the plaudits if there's a crash. I like Parabolica so I did the grid and then walked down the track, taking some shots of the fans as I went. During the race I had my Kangaroo TV on and I saw Webber run in to the back of Massa, so I was just focussing down the straight at Webber with his broken wing and all of a sudden he locked up, went across the gravel and in to the barrier. I ran down from the tower to this gap I thought he'd come through, but he went back to the last corner and was leant against this truck that was there. It's quite a nice picture because he's watching the race but you can see in the background his car being lifted away.

Fabio and Bernie

Camera Model: Canon EOS-1D Mark IV | Lens: 16-35 mm | Exposure: 1/300 Sec | Aperture: 6.3 © Sutton Images
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I like this shot of Fabio Capello because we had to pose him up for this one. They were chatting beforehand and the funny thing was Capello had a pass already, and then Bernie gave him a permanent pass! I don't know why he wants a permanent pass but it's quite nice to have one. I think the idea was if he wants to come to any more races he's all sorted now, and basically he just had a look at the races and he said to Bernie "I might come to Singapore", because I think there's a gap before the next England game. So in theory he won't have to apply for a pass now he can just use that one. I didn't know he was coming to be honest but we managed to sneak in to Bernie's motorhome and do a posed up shot, which was great. This is more of a hospitality motorhome for Bernie, while he has a newer one which is more for the business meetings.

Painting tyres

Second photo: Camera Model: Canon EOS-1D Mark IV | Lens: 17-40 mm | Exposure: 1/250 Sec | Aperture: 4.0 © Sutton Images
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This is Mark Dickens who's raising a load of money for charity. Basically what he got five of the drivers to do is paint the tyres and then roll them up and down this piece of paper that Pirelli had organised. As you can see Kobayashi was spinning it round, so it was quite funny, and then they signed it afterwards and they're going to auction it off for charity. This guy's actually going to be doing a set of paintings from the grands prix as well, so he's coming to every race this year and he's going to be doing his own interpretation of each race in one picture, whether it's podium, or certain things about the circuit, so he's not just doing this. Kobayashi, Webber, Trulli, Glock and Barrichello all rolled tyres in different directions so it should raise some money for charity, which is good.

Studious Hamilton

Camera Model: Canon EOS-1D Mark IV | Lens: 500 mm telephoto | Exposure: 1/3200 Sec | Aperture: 4.0 © Sutton Images
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You rarely see the drivers on the pit wall, even now, because they rarely get out of the cars. Especially in the early part of the year they have so much to do on a Friday that they're always in the car, but in Monza it seemed that a lot of them either had problems or had the setup correct and didn't need to do any more laps. So certainly on the Friday here Lewis got out and sat on the pit wall. What's lovely is that the sun has just come over the top of the garages and has just lit the top of the pit wall. As you can see there's a shadow, so this was very early in the morning and he was on there for about 15 minutes. It made for a nice picture with the really moody, contrasting light, that sort of set against the black background of the mechanics and the pit wall. Luckily Lewis has his white clothing on and it's lit up really well. He's contemplating what's going on and has got his fingers in his ears because he doesn't have his earplugs with him and the pit lane is a very noisy place!

Tide of Tifosi

Camera Model: Canon EOS-1D Mark IV | Lens: 16-35 mm | Exposure: 1/640 Sec | Aperture: 6.3 © Sutton Images
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I think I spoke about it last year, but I love this atmosphere and the fact that they get this massive flag out before all of the cars are in the pit lane. It comes out of a bag and you just see them unravel it before everyone goes on the track; it is quite rehearsed, but it works really well. The only bad thing this year was that there were a lot of flags that got in the way of the podium, so when you're stood where I was then and you're trying to shoot the podium the flags start to get in the bloody way! So it's not good, but there's not a lot you can do as a photographer about that, and it creates a great atmosphere. I love the fact that they're allowed to go on the circuit afterwards, and it's become an iconic picture now of Monza, even though it's a new podium. They've always invaded the track there, I remember back in the 80s when the old podium was at the other end of the straight and they did it then too. You get another great set of pictures when the drivers leave the podium too, because then the cameramen are allowed back on to take shots and the crowd just go mental, waving and cheering at them.

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