• Life Through a Lens


Mark Sutton
April 23, 2014

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

Kimi's fanatical Chinese supporters

(Top photo) Camera: Nikon D4 | Exposure: 1/640s | Aperture: F13 | ISO speed: 640 | Exposure mode: Manual | Lens: 24-70mm telephoto © Sutton Images

The Kimi Raikkonen fans are beyond belief in China. They paint their faces, wear wigs and print huge signs to support their man. Those main grandstand seats must be very expensive for someone on an average wage in China, but these guys and girls turn up every year dressed to support him - they are genuine fans. They created the finish flag out of all these little boards in the seats, so clearly they are also quite well organised, and as I walked past they were all saying "take our picture, take my picture!". It's absolutely amazing and I look forward to it now each year.

Under the bridge

Camera: Nikon D4 | Exposure: 1/1250s | Aperture: F7.1 | ISO speed: 1000 | Lens: 500mm Telephoto © Sutton Images

I like this overhead shot of Nico Hulkenberg, the reason being is that it's taken from an unusual angle. I'm actually nine floors up in the media centre shooting down over the track with my 500mm lens! The media centre is built into the bridge over the track and on each end there is a little gallery area. You can take photos of pit stops, podiums or this shot of the straight from there. Because it was wet and I was running a bit behind, I thought I'd do this shot from the window. But it's slightly pot luck because I was actually stood on a chair to get the angle! You pre-focus on the track and as you hear the car coming past you just pap it on the motordrive. It shows the force of the spray coming out of the back of the car, but you have to wait for a car by itself because if there is one following another it leaves the spray in the air and the shot is not as clear.

Marco Mattiacci

Camera: Nikon D4 | Exposure time: 1/500s | Aperture: F4 | ISO speed: 3200 | Lens: 500mm telephoto © Sutton Images

At first new Ferrari boss Marco Mattiacci was fine with the photographers, but after a while I think he got bored of us and started wandering off. He said he wore the sunglasses because he had done four flights in as many days without sleep. But I think it was because he didn't want to show where he was watching in the garage. You can be quite discreet when you are wearing sunglasses, and I remember that being Flavio Briatore's trick as no-one could see where he was looking! So it reminded me of another Italian.

Bull racing

Camera model: Nikon D4 | Exposure time: 1/1250s | Aperture: F5.6 | ISO speed: 400 | Lens: 500mm telephoto © Sutton Images

This photo was taken while Sebastian Vettel was still leading Daniel Ricciardo, and Ricciardo had two or three goes at overtaking his team-mate into the hairpin at Turn 14. Vettel kept defending the inside and Ricciardo couldn't get around the outside. You can see here that Seb is turning in already and Daniel is still straight, so perhaps he has locked up a bit. Obviously it all got a bit heated on the radio, but Ricciardo was much quicker and pulled away like you wouldn't believe once he got past.

Parc ferme

Camera model: Nikon D4 | Exposure time: 1/800s | Aperture: F4.5 | ISO speed: 800 | Lens: 500mm telephoto © Sutton Images

At the end of the race I took the usual finish shot as Lewis Hamilton crossed the line and then ran down the straight on the safe side of the barrier to get back to the pits. When they give you the okay you are allowed to cross the track to get back to the pit lane but by that time you're too late to join the rest of the photographers shooting parc ferme head on. So I opted for this rear shot of Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton as Fernando went up to him and patted him on the back and shook his hand. You're always looking for those different angles during a weekend.

Champagne celebrations

Camera: Nikon D4 | Exposure time: 1/640s | Aperture: F9 | ISO speed: 1600 | Lens: 500mm telephoto © Sutton Images

I like this shot because Lewis Hamilton has just been hit in the back of the neck with the contents of a bottle of Mumm champagne and you can see the grimace on his face as it happens. Lewis is obviously on a massive roll and has been given a big confidence boost from the recent races. He will pull ahead of Nico Rosberg in the drivers' championship at the next race if he wins again, but I think it might be a bit closer between those two in Spain.

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