The F1 stories behind the pictures: Mark Sutton

The Motorsport Images team has captured some superb photographs over the years, so we decided to ask one of its leading lights to pick out his favourite shots.

The F1 stories behind the pictures: Mark Sutton
Listen to this article

Mark Sutton has been shooting motorsport for nearly 40 years and is one of the world's leading Formula 1 photographers.

The co-founder of Sutton Images followed much of Ayrton Senna's career and took some of the last photographs of the great Brazilian during the terrible 1994 San Marino Grand Prix weekend.

He's witnessed plenty of magical moments, so Motorsport.com decided to ask him to select his favourite images - and explain what makes them special. Here are his 12 picks.

1. Senna vs Brundle crash, Oulton Park British F3, 1983

The two Ralt F3 cars of Ayrton Senna and Martin Brundle

The two Ralt F3 cars of Ayrton Senna and Martin Brundle

Photo by: Sutton Images

Photographing my first British Formula 3 race at my local track, Oulton Park, in 1983, I positioned myself out the back of the circuit. And when Senna lunged down the inside of Martin Brundle on lap two, they collided.

I got the photo of them side-by-side, but had to wind the black-and-white film. Then they touched and Senna landed on top of Brundle's car, just missing his head. They both got out unscathed and looked around the cars.

This is my capture after the race had finished. The images were used all over the world as the battle continued to the last round in Thruxton, with Senna winning the title.

2. The Flying Finn, Hakkinen, 1993 Australian GP

Mika Hakkinen, launches his Mclaren MP4/8 into the air at the Malthouse Corner

Mika Hakkinen, launches his Mclaren MP4/8 into the air at the Malthouse Corner

Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

I went out for practice at Adelaide with about 10 other photographers and went behind a concrete wall and advertising hoarding. I was doing pan shots against the fence, then I heard a slight screech of the brakes and aimed my camera towards the car, Mika Hakkinen's McLaren, as it flew over the kerbs through the air.

I kept my finger on the button as the car landed and headed back to the pits. I looked around to everyone else and said, 'Did you get that?' But everyone was quiet, saying nothing, so I kept quiet too.

Overnight I processed the film in a nearby lab and then, going through the images, there was a big scream followed by, 'Wow that's an incredible photo!'

I got X3 big prints made and took one to Hakkinen. He couldn't believe how high he was, as TV and everyone else missed it. Not to mention the engineer, who had wondered why there was a blip on the telemetry! This is Sutton Images' most sold image ever.

3. Senna and Schumacher, 1994 San Marino GP

Ayrton Senna, Williams and Michael Schumacher, Benetton are quizzed on the reformation of the GPDA following the previous days fatal accident.

Ayrton Senna, Williams and Michael Schumacher, Benetton are quizzed on the reformation of the GPDA following the previous days fatal accident.

Photo by: Sutton Images

Sunday 1 May 1994 was a tragic day in F1 and this photo of Senna and Michael Schumacher walking down the Imola pitlane after the drivers' briefing clearly shows their emotions. It looks like they don't want to race, following Roland Ratzenberger's death on the Saturday.

It's an emotional photo for me, showing the established superstar and the man who would take over his mantle following that tragic race in which Senna would lose his life. 

4. Schumacher's first Ferrari victory, 1996 Spanish GP

Winner Michael Schumacher, Ferrari F310 takes the flag

Winner Michael Schumacher, Ferrari F310 takes the flag

Photo by: Sutton Images

One of Schumacher's greatest victories was at the Spanish GP in Barcelona in a very wet race where he dominated in a Ferrari that wasn't the best car on the grid.

The first of his 72 Ferrari victories was a race that underlined his immense talent in the rain and why he earned the nickname 'Rainmaster'. He was lapping three seconds faster than the rest of the field after taking the lead from Jacques Villeneuve on lap 12 and never looked back after that.

5. Ralf Schumacher kicks his own car, 2005 US GP

Ralf Schumacher, kicks his Toyota TF105

Ralf Schumacher, kicks his Toyota TF105

Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

I was positioned on the pitwall in FP1 in Indianapolis when Ralf Schumacher suffered a tyre failure and crashed his Toyota heavily into the banked last corner. Showing his disgust, having also crashed at that corner the previous year during the race, Schumacher got out of his car and kicked it.

The impact was big enough that he would be replaced by test driver Ricardo Zonta for the race, but there was more intrigue to come. Shortly afterwards, the recriminations began and after much off-track discussion with the FIA and the Bridgestone teams failed to reach a consensus, the Michelin-shod cars couldn't start the GP.

After forming up on the grid, all 14 poured into the pits and retired, leaving the six Bridgestone cars to finish in the top six, with Tiago Monteiro's Jordan on the podium.

6. Button celebrates his F1 title, 2009 Brazilian GP

Jenson Button, Brawn Grand Prix celebrates winning the World Championship

Jenson Button, Brawn Grand Prix celebrates winning the World Championship

Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

Jenson Button celebrated with pure emotions after clinching the 2009 Formula 1 World Championship by finishing fifth in the Brazilian GP at Interlagos.

After he took off his helmet in parc ferme, I shouted his name and he came within inches of my lens. The next day all the national newspapers in the UK used the images and it was on the front cover of that week's Autosport magazine.

7. A special view from above, Abu Dhabi, 2009

Aerial view of the Marina, Main Grandstand, Pit Buildings, Team Buildings, Marina Hotel, Track, North Grandstand and Yas Island

Aerial view of the Marina, Main Grandstand, Pit Buildings, Team Buildings, Marina Hotel, Track, North Grandstand and Yas Island

I was very lucky to work on the construction photos for the Yas Marina circuit in Abu Dhabi, starting in April 2007, and I managed 14 visits over the two-and-half-year project.

This image, taken in January 2009, was amazing because I had special permission to go 5000ft above the circuit, with the door open and shooting down on what is now the most expensive circuit and island project ever built.

You can see all the incredible infrastructure being installed, such as Ferrari World, hotels and roads around the circuit. The circuit opened for its first race in November 2009.

8. Maldonado and Gutierrez crash, 2014 British GP

Pastor Maldonado, Lotus F1 and Esteban Gutierrez, Sauber C33 Ferrari collide on track

Pastor Maldonado, Lotus F1 and Esteban Gutierrez, Sauber C33 Ferrari collide on track

Photo by: Charles Coates / Motorsport Images

At the British Grand Prix it's nice to do something different, such as shoot the grid and then wander back to photograph the start from the rear as the cars head into the first corner. You're also then in position for Club corner, where there's always a chance of an overtake or incident under braking.

After their coming-together in the Bahrain GP earlier that year, I could see Pastor Maldonado and Esteban Gutierrez were battling. The Sauber jumped down the inside, the wheels touched and Maldonado was pitched airbone - a role reversal from Bahrain.

Maldonado was only in the air for a brief second and actually carried on with little damage, although later retired with loss of power, while Gutierrez had to retire and was given the blame by the stewards.

9. A golden Hamilton moment, 2017 Canadian GP

Race winner Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes AMG F1

Race winner Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes AMG F1

Photo by: Sutton Images

I was lucky enough to be in a privileged position on top of the control tower for the 2017 Canadian GP in Montreal. I shot the start and pitstops, as well as the celebrations as Lewis Hamilton enjoyed victory.

I didn't have such a good spot for the podium, but just kept shooting what I could. Then I saw a flash of light as I was shooting and thought that a flash had gone off.

When I looked back through the frames there was only one frame in which the sunlight had hit the trophy, which was in the shape of maple leaf, and I called it my golden moment. It was used on F1's and Hamilton's Instagram accounts - to show it was a one-in-a-million photo!

10. Ricciardo's belly flop, 2018 Monaco GP

Race winner Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull Racing celebrates in the Red Bull Energy Station swimming pool

Race winner Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull Racing celebrates in the Red Bull Energy Station swimming pool

After winning the race in Monte Carlo, which he called 'redemption' after missing out in 2016 thanks to a Red Bull pitstop blunder, Daniel Ricciardo celebrated in his own way at the Red Bull energy station by diving into the pool.

I went to see Daniel a few races later to ask for some signatures for charity and asked him to sign one to me personally. He called it a "Belly Flooopppp", so I called this image the same name.

It's also one of my favourite images as it shows him almost floating on the water and the splash coming up, but he's not actually in the water yet!

11. Alonso flies over Leclerc, 2018 Belgian GP

Charles Leclerc, Sauber C37, Fernando Alonso, McLaren MCL33 collide at the start of the race

Charles Leclerc, Sauber C37, Fernando Alonso, McLaren MCL33 collide at the start of the race

Photo by: Glenn Dunbar / Motorsport Images

When F1 photographers go to the first corner at a GP, we are always waiting for a spectacular crash and this is exactly what happened at Spa in 2018, which was captured as part of a 60-frame sequence.

As the pack bunched up, Nico Hulkenberg's Renault launched Fernando Alonso's McLaren into the air. He then bounced on Charles Leclerc's Sauber, the halo fortunately saving him from potentially serious head injuries, before landing on the ground with a burst radiator. You could clearly see the tyre marks on Leclerc's Sauber afterwards.

The image was quickly transmitted back to the LAT Images offices and distributed around the world.

12. Verstappen wins amid chaos, 2019 German GP

Race winner Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB15 crosses the finish line

Race winner Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB15 crosses the finish line

Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

What a crazy race this was. With cars off and drama almost everywhere, there was something happening all the time, but I felt like I was in the wrong place the whole day. My saving grace was possibly this finish photo, which I took through a gap in the fence.

I got a great sequence as Max Verstappen celebrated victory, keeping my finger on the button until he passed me. I saw an explosion in the background, looked back through my camera and could see that fireworks had gone off exactly as Max passed me, which created the perfect photo of victory.

shares
comments
How F1 plans to get through fresh quarantine headache
Previous article

How F1 plans to get through fresh quarantine headache

Next article

FIA says 10 coronavirus cases wouldn't stop F1 race

FIA says 10 coronavirus cases wouldn't stop F1 race
Load comments
The historic clues that offer hints of Hamilton’s next move Prime

The historic clues that offer hints of Hamilton’s next move

OPINION: Uncertainty over Lewis Hamilton's future has persisted since the race direction call that denied him an eighth world title in Abu Dhabi last month. But while walking away would be understandable, Hamilton has time and again responded well in the face of adversity and possesses all the tools needed to bounce back stronger than ever

Formula 1
Jan 26, 2022
What the FIA must do to restore F1's credibility Prime

What the FIA must do to restore F1's credibility

OPINION: The first stage of the 2022 Formula 1 pre-season is just over a month away, but the championship is still reeling from the controversial results of last year’s finale. The FIA acknowledges F1 has had its reputation dented as a result, so here’s how it could go about putting things right

Formula 1
Jan 25, 2022
The six subplots to watch in 2022 as a new F1 era begins Prime

The six subplots to watch in 2022 as a new F1 era begins

As Formula 1 prepares to begin a new era of technical regulations in 2022, We pick out six other key elements to follow this season

Formula 1
Jan 24, 2022
Why newly-retired Kimi Raikkonen won't miss F1 Prime

Why newly-retired Kimi Raikkonen won't miss F1

After 349 grand prix starts, 46 fastest laps, 21 wins and one world championship, Kimi Raikkonen has finally called time on his F1 career. In an exclusive interview with Motorsport.com on the eve of his final race, he explains his loathing of paddock politics and reflects on how motorsport has changed over the past two decades.

Formula 1
Jan 23, 2022
Unpacking the technical changes behind F1 2022's rules shake-up Prime

Unpacking the technical changes behind F1 2022's rules shake-up

Formula 1 cars will look very different this year as the long-awaited fresh rules finally arrive with the stated aim of improving its quality of racing. We break down what the return of 'ground effect' aerodynamics - and a flurry of other changes besides - means for the teams, and what fans can expect

Formula 1
Jan 21, 2022
Why F1's new era is still dogged by its old world problems Prime

Why F1's new era is still dogged by its old world problems

OPINION: The 2022 Formula 1 season is just weeks away from getting underway, but instead of focusing on what is to come, the attention still remains on what has been – not least the Abu Dhabi title decider controversy. That, plus other key talking points, must be resolved to allow the series to warmly welcome in its new era

Formula 1
Jan 20, 2022
The Schumacher trait that will give Haas hope in F1 2022 Prime

The Schumacher trait that will give Haas hope in F1 2022

Mick Schumacher’s knack of improving during his second season in a championship was a trademark of his junior formula career, so his progress during his rookie Formula 1 campaign with Haas was encouraging. His target now will be to turn that improvement into results as the team hopes to reap the rewards of sacrificing development in 2021

Formula 1
Jan 19, 2022
The “glorified taxi” driver central to F1’s continued safety push Prime

The “glorified taxi” driver central to F1’s continued safety push

As the driver of Formula 1’s medical car, Alan van der Merwe’s job is to wait – and hope his skills aren’t needed. James Newbold hears from F1’s lesser-known stalwart.

Formula 1
Jan 15, 2022