• Life Through a Lens - Mark Sutton

Crowning a champion

Mark Sutton
October 12, 2011

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

Hand Puppets

Camera: Canon EOS-1D Mark III | Lens: 16-35mmm zoom | Aperture: 8.0 | Exposure: 1/320 Sec © Sutton Images
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Obviously this weekend was all about Japan and the tsunami and earthquake that hit it earlier in the year, so the sport was trying its best to raise some money. So it was quite funny that Bernie did this, they were selling the puppets for 3,500 Yen. I was out there in the vending area and they were selling all sorts; there's Bernie, Button, Kamui, Scumacher and Takuma Sato. I went out there on the Saturday before qualifying and it was incredible how much stuff they buy, it's got to be the biggest seller of the year so having these puppets would really make a difference to the charity. They must buy at least two or three items per person, so it was good to see that Bernie had given his official licence to the puppets, even if it looks nothing like him! It was a very humorous adventure that he'd done, and I heard that he'd bought 3,500 tickets for people that were involved in the tsunami as well so that was great - for three day passes that will have cost him over a million dollars.

Kobayashi's choir

Camera: Canon EOS-1D Mark III | Lens 16-35mm zoom © Sutton Images
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Kamui has been a big influence on the Japanese people. Being a young guy, doing so well last year here with Sauber and then this year he did a great job again. It really boosted the crowd's enthusiasm, and the crowd figures of 102,000 for race day were so impressive with what has happened there. This picture is of him with the local girls' choir to the area that was affected by the nuclear disaster in Fukushima. He was down there while they were rehearsing and it drew a huge amount of press and media. It was a great buzz down there, to see all the young fans so appreciative of him; Kamui's a brilliant young guy and hopefully he'll be in Formula One for a long time. The fans' support for him is brilliant, and there were a lot of them still in the stands on Saturday night. I went to take some shots of everyone running the track and I ended up walking the track because it was $300 for charity for each person who registered and did it. And now that's up to over $120,000 for charity so that was great, and it made for a brilliant evening on Saturday night.

Rosberg's boots

Camera: Canon EOS-1D Mark III | Lens 16-35mm zoom | Aperture: 9.0 | Exposure: 1/125 Sec © Sutton Images
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This was a Facebook competition run by Alpinestars online where you could design a pair of boots and they would make them exactly as you'd designed them. It was amazing, because I'd seen Nico wearing his boots in the garage to just walk around and thought they must be the new ones, but Alpinestars told me they were his old ones because drivers like to wear them in. They're made of such thin leather - I think it's kangaroo leather - it's so soft it's unbelievable because you need to have them as thin but as strong as possible to give maximum feel on the pedals. So Nico put these on and he loved them because they were something different. He did the posed up shots first, and then even though they were brand new and hadn't been worn in yet he said he wanted to wear them throughout the weekend.

Absent Lewis

Top photo - Camera: Canon EOS-1D Mark IV | Lens: 16-35mm zoom © Sutton Images
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Keith took the shot of the on-track action, and that was taken from the big Ferris wheel you see at the circuit. It's just a two man pod and you can shoot out of the window. So while Keith was shooting from there, Lewis, Mark and Michael all came in to this corner three abreast. Lewis didn't see one of them and lost out, but I hadn't seen it myself. So I was shooting in parc ferme after qualifying and I saw Lewis get out of the car and thought "Where the hell is he going?" And he went across to Michael and we had the whole finger pointing and "What were you doing?" sort of situation. It was only when I saw the footage after that I realised why he was so angry. That was one of the stories of the weekend, and Lewis was bizarre the whole time. He was completely separate in the standard shot after qualifying, then he went in to the press conference and he was just so blank; he didn't want to explain it. Then the next day in the driver's parade he was just spaced out, he'd ignore all shouts from photographers and he was just on a different planet. It was bizarre, and I can understand why people are talking about it, because it's not good.

Button backs them up

Camera: Canon EOS-1D Mark III | Lens: 70-200mm zoom | Aperture: 9.0 | Exposure: 1/640 Sec © Sutton Images
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I was down at the chicane when the safety car came out, which could be seen as one of the reasons Button won the race. He was tight on fuel so this helped, and also allowed the drivers to look after their tyres a bit more. Here he's leading the restart; the safety car has peeled in to the pits and it shows you how close they were together. It was an important part of the race in terms of bunching everyone up again, and Jenson is just about to drop the hammer at the point where the Massa and Hamilton collision happened. You can see how close they all are, with the top six in shot and there's actually a Virgin behind Alonso there. It's not often you can shoot them all together. After the race Jenson mentioned the incident at the start when he was pushed on to the grass and told Seb that he wouldn't yield to him next time. I think even though the title is won we'll see some really good racing with the pressure off, but there's still the constructor's championship to play for and that's really where the mechanics will put pressure on the drivers because their bonuses rely on that!

Our champion

Camera: Canon EOS-1D Mark IV | Lens: 70-200mm zoom | Aperture: 3.2 | Exposure: 1/400 Sec © Sutton Images
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I was quite lucky to get this shot because of my location. There's a really nice balcony on the media centre but no-one's allowed outside, which is really odd. It's like prime position to take photos during the race but we weren't allowed, but we asked if we could go up after the race, which we were allowed to do. It was a really nice position but we didn't know what would happen, and unfortunately Seb was third so he was right underneath us. But that gives it a completely different aspect, and with the blue background it's a real blend of the Red Bull colours. He stood on the car and pointed with both fingers to symbolise his two world titles, and then ran over to his team to celebrate. It's just a great shot of him stood on the machine that gave him the title, and also shows his special helmet which he was auctioning off for charity. It's just a really nice, poignant picture of the champion.

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