• Life Through a Lens

Raikkonen reigns

Mark Sutton
November 7, 2012

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

Button's sunset

Camera model: Canon EOS-1D X | Exposure: 1/1000s | Aperture: F5 | ISO Speed: 400 | Lens: 70-200mm © Sutton Images
This is shot on Friday afternoon during FP2, and you always look to see where the sun is going to go down in the evening. I know this particular spot where you can stand on this bank and you can shoot it setting behind a building, and then you move a bit further down and you get palm tress in it and the golden sun as it sets. It creates a lovely picture; obviously a fast shutter speed to get it through, but with the new camera I can whack up the ISO to whatever I want and freeze the action. It's a lovely golden sky, sun going down, car going past; it's the perfect picture for what Abu Dhabi is like. The sun sets every night like that and this time of year you get a more golden sunlight and a much clearer sunlight - the light is a lot crisper - so for pictures it's absolutely perfect light. Very different from the smog of India!

Red Bull at work

Camera model: Nikon D3 | Exposure: 1/10s | Aperture: F8 | ISO Speed: 200 | Lens: 16-35mm © Sutton Images
This shot was of Red Bull practicing pit stops on the Thursday with a mechanic in the car to hit the brake. All the teams practice them quite regularly but I think the top teams tend to do more because they realise that whether it's a tenth of a second or a thousandth of a second it can make a difference between coming out first, second or third. They practice it so much and it gives them an extra edge, so this Red Bull shot is taken at a very slow shutter speed to show just how quick they push the cars in time after time. It's more about getting a consistent time rather than one quick time; it's not like one hot lap. They're recording everything, they video it and show it back to analyse who is doing what. I remember seeing Ferrari watch the previous stops from Korea when we were in India, just to see maybe where they went wrong. Pit stops can make a hell of a difference and this shows the speed they work at even in practice stops.

F1 in Schools

Camera model: Canon EOS-1D X | Exposure: 1/125s | Aperture: F4 | ISO Speed: 400 | Lens: 16-35mm © Sutton Images
I went down on Wednesday to see the F1 in Schools set-up to see what it's all about. I've seen them at the track quite a lot but not actually seen how the whole process is done and what happens. The World Finals were held in Ferrari World - an incredible location - and the whole thing is so professional it was amazing. The teams are so enthusiastic and the cars are just amazing; the design element of it and the professionalism and the sponsors that got involved is like a miniature Formula One set-up. Cold Fusion from Australia won and even impressed Adrian Newey in the paddock during the weekend. The guy launching the car for Cold Fusion was so focused - it's literally on a button as it shoots the car down a 20m run on a fine wire - and they did have the edge. There are regulations on weight and size, but they even redefined the rules this year to refresh it, so it's very similar to Formula One in that sense. It's a great initiative and these kids could be aerodynamicists of the future.

A packed pit lane

Camera model: Canon EOS-1D Mark IV | Exposure: 1/125s | Aperture: F10 | ISO Speed: 400 | Lens: 16-35mm © Sutton Images
The crowds were incredible on race day; not so much on Saturday but I think what tends to happen is people get up and come in late. Also it can be very deceptive because a lot of people don't go in the grandstands due to the heat, they stay in the hospitality. So they numbers are there but not always sat in their seats. This picture was taken on Thursday which was actually just three-day general admission ticket holders. The fans get to come in on a Thursday and I think Silverstone should listen to that; almost every track we go to does it now but Silverstone doesn't. Anyway, this one shows when the public are allowed in, and we had a sellout this weekend of 55,000.

Vettel and the Viceroy

Camera model: Canon EOS-1D X | Exposure: 1/640s | Aperture: F4 | ISO Speed: 2500 | Lens: 500mm © Sutton Images
This Red Bull shot shows the Yas Viceroy hotel in the background. It's the main background for the circuit that lights up at light and is an iconic building that sits on the track. We've got that, we've got Ferrari World, we've got the tower, the grandstands, the palm trees, the boats in the marina, the lights; so many things that create this ambience here, it's endless. This picture was taken after dark on the Friday coming over the turn three crest with the lighting changing colour behind. They got the lighting spot on this year, it looked great, and after the race I was enjoying a glass of wine with the wife looking at the hotel and the lights were spelling out 'Winner: Kimi Raikkonen'. The design concept is unbelievable, very clever, and it creates great pictures for us. It disappoints me in places like India where they haven't created what I would call an Indian background to it. This may not be typical Abu Dhabi - the grandstands and palm trees are - but it's a serious focal point and given time it will become even more iconic like the Fairmont Hotel in Monaco.

King Kimi

Camera model: Canon EOS-1D X | Exposure: 1/640s | Aperture: F4 | ISO Speed: 2000 | Lens: 70-200mm © Sutton Images
Obviously an amazing victory for Kimi after all his great results during the year, and people were doubting whether he was going to win a race. He was obviously lucky in one sense as Lewis broke down, but he drove a great race (from what I saw of it as I was shooting it from a helicopter!) and there was jubilation at the end. This is a picture that actually shows him celebrating; Kimi's a man of few words and even fewer emotions! As the radio messages to him during the race showed, he can be in a world of his own at times. It's a nice shot I've taken from the paddock club - I wanted to take it from the grandstand area but people had been waiting there the whole race - so this was the best position I could get. It just gives you a different angle looking down on Kimi as he celebrates and it's been hit by a side flash, so it just filled it in a little bit.

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