• Life Through a Lens - Mark Sutton

Malaysian mayhem

Mark Sutton
March 29, 2012

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

Rainy Thursday

Model: Canon EOS-1D Mark IV | Aperture: 5.6 | Lens: 70-200mm | Exposure: 1/500 sec © Sutton Images

This picture almost looks black and white due to the rain; I was actually shooting it from a hospitality unit! You try to shoot these pictures because you see people walking up and down with umbrellas - the odd one - some walking and some running, but obviously you don't want to get too wet because it was an absolute downpour. They have these new paddock buildings in Malaysia with an overhang so I was standing under there and that kept me dry. I was just shooting with a long lens through the trees, and I saw this person walking down from Toro Rosso so managed to get them. It was very bizarre because we got there in the morning - beautiful sunshine - and then later in the day this massive black cloud came over, exactly like race day. Thursday and Sunday were very similar days when we had these massive downpours, and I suppose this is a typical Malaysia picture shooting down the paddock with the rain bouncing off the concrete and you can see how dark it is in the picture.


Model: Canon EOS-1D Mark IV | Aperture: 8.0 (Second image: 9.0) | Lens: 500mm zoom | Exposure: 1/500 sec © Sutton Images

I did this position last year and I thought I'd go back for another crack. I didn't have the same lens but it's just amazing how they come in to that corner so damn quick and there's a slight camber under braking. These tended to be the quick laps when they're looking to put a fast time in - as you can see they're on the softer medium compound - and you can actually read the Pirelli because it's locked up and frozen the tyre. With the Red Bull shot you can see two plumes of smoke as if Webber has locked up, eased off the brakes a touch but then locked up again. I took these on a 500mm handheld, so just swinging round and following them through the corner as they come in to the last corner on the circuit. It was a massive lock-up by Kobayashi; he's locked up before he's made the corner. I like how you get the steering wheel leaning over and the driver's helmet right down on the side of the cockpit as he tries to get the car to turn in despite locking up, it creates a great picture. My back was killing afterwards though having held a 5kg lens for so long and swinging it round the corner!

Massa v Button

Model: Canon EOS-1D Mark IV | Aperture: 4.0 | Lens: 70-200mm | Exposure: 1/500 sec © Sutton Images

This was a good little battle during the race, but they're only fighting for 15th place! Button had used his DRS up to turn one as had Ricciardo, and Button was on the outside for turn one which would give him the inside line in to turn two. They came round side-by-side around the whole corner, and obviously Hamilton and Massa had a number of incidents last year when they touched, but it was good to see Massa racing side-by-side. They just held their lines and then Button found his way through, and it was a great opportunity to get a number of shots. It's just a shame that the weather was a bit dull for the images, but the light was starting to improve. You're stationed there though as you're looking for those opportunities of overtaking manoeuvres and potential crashes and obviously this could have been a key moment even though it turned out to only be for 15th place.

Sauber celebrates

Model: Canon EOS-1D Mark IV | Aperture: 2.8 | Lens: 70-200mm | Exposure: 1/500 sec © Sutton Images
I like this top shot of the mechanic's finger, but it's actually a mistake! It just shows you how autofocus works sometimes. When you don't use manual focus and you use autofocus sometimes it can pin in on something that's in the foreground. I think it creates a really nice picture, personally, because it's just the one finger up like he's the man, but it wasn't what I intended! It just shows emotion too, you've got him in the background out of focus as he greets all his mechanics. Here I'd gone for a really weird position, just down the line in parc ferme. I saw all the mechanics and knew he'd come over - I just took that instinct in to it and thought he might come over; he's more than likely to. So I just leant out a bit and shot down the line. Great emotions though, as you can see with the sharper picture below where he's celebrating with the team.

Synchronised McLarens

Model: Canon EOS-1D Mark IV | Aperture: 5.6 | Lens: 500mm | Exposure: 1/500 sec © Sutton Images
This was very early on in the race when the rain started to pour down. I like it because it's a nice, clean picture, it's got no sponsorship in it, it's got the Malaysian colours in the background, it's nice and tight in the frame, lots of spray and just shows how close they were in the beginning there. You can see the plumes of spray coming up and that's quite a slow corner as well. I've shot this on the 500 again and it shows them getting so close together in the rain. The weather actually reminded me of a few years ago when there was rain down at the first corner, but then out the back there was no rain at all and you could see a line where it stopped half way down the circuit. Obviously it eventually rained everywhere and was just too wet to race.

Victorious Alonso

Model: Canon EOS-1D Mark IV | Aperture: 2.8 | Lens: 70-200mm | Exposure: 1/500 sec © Sutton Images

I shot this from the same location as Perez. The difficult part in these situations is when you get three cars going back at the same time and you've got emotions from the three people. I think Hamilton just went over and congratulated Perez and that was pretty much it. Obviously Alonso won and he arrived a little bit later than Perez but at that point Perez was celebrating with his team so I had this quandary of "who the hell do you shoot?!" So I was shooting Perez and looked over to see Alonso stood on his car so fired off about five frames. It's nice when you capture someone else's flash, it sort of lights the subject - because it was quite dark at the end, a really dull light. So it just lifts it when you get this side flash. You can see all the photographers along the barrier and someone's flash has just gone off and lit it really nicely. It shows emotion as Alonso holds up his steering wheel and bows to the team.

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