• Life Through a Lens

Capturing Korea

Mark Sutton
October 17, 2012

F1 photographer Mark Sutton picks his favourite photos from the Korean Grand Prix

Vettel track walk

Camera model: Canon EOS-1D Mark IV | Exposure time: 1/300s | Aperture: F18 | ISO speed: 400 | Lens: 16-35mm zoom © Sutton Images
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For me it's great that he walks the track. I don't know why but he seems to walk it around the same time every race at about 11 o'clock. He walks with his engineer obviously, and his trainer, and they've got their data on a piece of paper which they try to hide of course. The first couple of days in Korea we had beautiful sunshine, really clear, no smog, lovely sunsets, it was great. It is amazing to see Vettel walking the track; all the young drivers do it but you don't see any of the top drivers doing it. That's another reason I think he's doing really well. It's about knowing the circuit, actually physically going out there and looking at every kerb, every run-off, every bit of tarmac. You don't see Lewis doing it any more, or Jenson, Fernando, Raikkonen, you don't see any of them do it any more. It's like as a photographer, when we go to new tracks or we have new photographers with us we insist they walk the track and look at it and get a feel for it. As a photographer we tend to walk the opposite way round because we shoot with the cars coming towards us, but that actually works quite well because with the drivers walking the right way round you meet them all!

Turn one

Top image: Camera model: Canon EOS-1D X | Exposure time: 1/640 s | Aperture: F8 | ISO speed: 400 | Lens: 70-200mm Zoom © Sutton Images
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It's an incredible spot, I'm amazed there wasn't other photographers up there. It's where you get the shot of the start from, and I wanted to go up there to get the bridge in too and you don't really get that from low down because - believe it or not - the LG advertising sign hides the bridge. For me working for organisers they want the crowd, they want the atmosphere and I think it creates a better picture; it's more atmospheric. You're in there with the crowd, I'm literally at the back and behind me there's the helicopter and a TV camera on a crane. Korea's one of the easiest places to work, you're literally allowed in to any grandstand, any place, without any security issues at all. It's great, because it gives us the chance to go and create great pictures which is what it's all about. For the fans it's an amazing view from there. You get the start, you get track action, you get the pit stops, you get some overtaking and you've got the screens anyway. You can see a lot from there.

The Korean bridge

Camera model: Canon EOS-1D X | Exposure time: 1/1000 s | Aperture: F5 | ISO speed: 200 | Exposure mode: Manual | Lens: 16-35mm zoom © Sutton Images
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This was on the Friday and I got bored in the pits with everyone out on the track so I thought I'd go and shoot from the grandstand; it's easy enough to get to over the bridge. I shoot this on the wide angle of them coming under the bridge, which is typical Korean architecture with the tiled roof and you can see how close the sea is to the circuit behind. This is supposed to be developed in to a marina - where the channel comes down the middle - but it's yet to be developed. The governor who we met on Friday between sessions said that they're going to start building work next year so that sounds quite positive. They are actually building a massive casino with hotel and leisure complex on the other side of the sea so development is starting. It's not yet on the track side of the water but they've got a new bridge from the centre of Mokpo towards the track so now the traffic's eased a bit with two bridges across the main causeway where all the ships come through. It was so wonderful on the first couple of days when it was clear and we could see a little bit more of the surroundings because it can be really smoggy otherwise and you can't really give the track much of a backdrop.

The Iceman cometh

Camera model: Canon EOS-1D Mark IV | Exposure time: 1/250s | Aperture: F18 | ISO speed: 400 | Lens: 70-200mm zoom © Sutton Images
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It was quite funny because I hadn't seen this originally. They say that nobody's interested in motorsport in Korea but they are, there's a lot of fans there. There's 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 and luckily you can fit the 70-200mm lens through the 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 was 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.

Alonso v Button

Camera model: Canon EOS-1D X | Exposure time: 1/640s | Aperture: F9 | ISO speed: 100 | Lens: 500mm telephoto © Sutton Images
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This was towards the end of the session on Friday afternoon, and there was a lovely sunset on Friday which adds to this picture. It was just an opportunity to get a shot of a couple of guys trying to out-psych each other during practice. This is what they do sometimes, when one's slowed down the other will go past; I think this was actually on a slowing down lap but they were just battling. I don't think it was a full-on flat-out lap but they were just trying to out-psych each other I think. It's a bit of a game going on sometimes and if they can get away with it they'll do it. A lot of it seems to go on during Friday and Saturday practice, if you do it in qualifying you're likely to get penalised but in practice you can get away with it. It's good to test your braking stability in to a corner against another car - especially against a McLaren for Fernando. At this time of the day you get some lovely light, a bit like in testing, and this is just shot on the 500mm lens. I'm positioned on the exit of the corner, there's a lot of lines out there so I'm doing the lines shot so I'm looking out for things like this and the exit shot, so there's a lot of pictures to get down there.

Always be prepared

Camera model: Canon EOS-1D X | Exposure time: 1/250s | Aperture: F6.3 | ISO speed: 1000 | Lens: 300mm telephoto © Sutton Images
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I think Adrian Newey had seen the last race when Paul Monaghan had got absolutely drenched and he's brought some goggles with him on to the podium. It's like he read this column after Japan when I was talking about how much champagne can sting if it gets in your eyes! I don't think Vettel saw them at first, he turned round and sprayed him and then Seb noticed. He tried to get closer but it wasn't doing anything, then Newey took the goggles off and Mark tried to pour some champagne over him so he quickly pressed them against his face again! After that he just threw them in to the crowd and you'll never guess who caught them; Helmut Marko! He could have thrown them anywhere and they landed right in his hands. Maybe that's why Red Bull is so fast - top secret goggles! It was a really funny moment, and it shows how astute Newey is that he'd actually thought about it before he went on the podium and grabbed one of the mechanics' goggles. Red Bull like to spread it around - they don't want Horner up there every race - they give everyone their chance to collect the trophy and acknowledge their contribution, and they're clearly working well as they've now won three in a row.

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