The season in photos

F1 photographer Mark Sutton picks his favourite shots from the season.

Australia: Button celebrates

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The light was just incredible when Jenson got out the car. He came over towards me and I was quite low down so there's a bit of sky behind it and you can see his gloves. The problem for people who were higher up was that the black background made it hard to distinguish the gloves, which are making a "W". He was obviously ecstatic and the best thing about it was that I won some money on him so it was even better! I was doing an autograph signing session with him at the last test in Barcelona and the last thing he said to me was "see you in parc ferme" so I took his word for it and put bets on for pole, victory and to win the championship. I was quite happy with that!

Malaysia: Sauber celebrates

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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 into 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.

China: Marbles

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This just shows you how bad the marbles were in China, and tyres played such a crucial role in the race. I was trying to get an angle somewhere around the track that showed all the debris because it was horrendous. When a car went off-line ... well Raikkonen showed how bad it was when he lost all those positions. He lost five places in one lap, and if you go off line you're in real trouble. It was all about finding the spot, and as I was wandering back for the finish shots I could see it there. I shot a couple through the fence at first, and then there was a marshal's post, so I just thought 'well that works really, really well'.

Bahrain - Perfect portraits

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As photographers we love the Sakhir paddock. You get some great opportunities to shoot portraits because it is very hot and dry and that coaxes the teams and drivers out of their team buildings. We took several pictures of people outside, talking on benches or just relaxing under palm trees. The light is fantastic when the sun sets around 16:00 and you can walk in the paddock and photograph people without any obstacles such as the motorhomes you get in Europe. The backgrounds are simple and the buildings have sand coloured flat surfaces without advertising. It offers very clean images

Mugello test - An old-school circuit

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Here's proof that Mugello is an old-school circuit. In this photo you can see the perimeter wall of the circuit, but unlike other tracks the catch-fencing to protect the spectators is further back with the perimeter road in between. So as a photographer you can shoot from behind the wall but in front of the fence rather than through holes in the fence as we have to do at most modern circuits. In this shot you can see that Sebastian Vettel has cycled over from the pit lane and has an unobstructed view of the car.

Spain - Dealing with fire

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Williams had done the celebration picture and they all started mobbing Frank so I thought I'd head up to the media room to wire the pictures. As I was heading back I could hear this explosion and everybody looked up at the smoke so I ran back through it all to see people pulling all the fire extinguishers down the pit lane. It was absolute bloody chaos, but what was amazing about the fire was the camaraderie and all the support that the teams gave. Everyone brought fire extinguishers, they knew it was a fire and they knew it could affect other garages if they just left it, so they all showed their support. It was great. It was a bit like a warzone trying to shoot it all - I felt like a war photographer - I didn't want to get in people's way but my news head kicked in and I felt like I needed to get the shots. I didn't do too badly, it was incredible seeing some senior team members mucking in and quite a few were covered in extinguisher dust by the time they stepped away.

Monaco - Follow the leader

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While it wasn't the most entertaining race, the fact that it was the closest ever top-four finish at Monaco meant it was a tight one throughout. You're always looking for shots that will capture the essence of the race, and I think that's what this one does. Having the leading five cars all in a row and in one shot together so late in a race is very rare, but you can also see just how tight the track is. There's no way past, but the barriers are so close you know that one mistake will end the race for somebody, and Webber was under a great deal of pressure too. Look how close the marshals are to the cars too - you don't get that anywhere else. It really is such a unique race.

Canada - Flipping brilliant

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Keith Sutton: At the time this was shot most photographers were in the wire room uploading pictures, but it was such a lovely evening that I decided to take a walk over to McLaren's hospitality. All of Lewis's entourage were milling around, including his girlfriend Nicole Scherzinger and manager Simon Fuller, and I was just grabbing shots of that because the light was so nice. Then I saw Lewis head out of the paddock so I thought I'd follow him because it's always nice getting photos of the drivers crossing the pontoon when the light is low. So while he was signing autographs I went ahead and strolled to the end of the pontoon to get a picture of him with my 70-200mm lens. Then as he came towards me he pushed his trainer, Antti Vierula, into the Olympic rowing basin! But what I wasn't expecting was what happened next as Lewis put his back to the water and did this incredible backflip! I just kept my finger down and the autofocus did its work to capture this incredible sequence of him jumping in. My thoughts were, with Hamilton being a McLaren driver, he doesn't get a chance to do what the Red Bull drivers do in the swimming pool when they win in Monaco. So I said that to him as I thanked him for the photos. It was a great end to a great weekend.

Europe - Dead Bull

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Sebastian Vettel's Red Bull stopped on the track on the Sunday and they didn't quite manage to get it back to the pits. It got halfway between the first corner and the pits so I was able to get a few shots of it by itself and I was able to go a little bit closer than normal. It's nice to be able to have a bit of freedom to take photos of the car and not have mechanics trying to shove you away and guard it. So to get a close up of the steering wheel and the rear of the car is a little bit unusual.

Britain - Threatening skies

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It's almost pitch black behind Alonso in qualifying. It was his final run in qualifying and this shot has not been edited at all. I've darkened the car slightly but have not touched up the clouds or anything. It's actually sunny at this point of the session as the track dries out and Alonso is coming down into Vale on the inside of the track. With the sun being out and the black cloud in the background it creates a really nice picture, a kind of moody, menacing image. It was just good to be in the right place with the incoming weather behind to create this moody shot.

Germany - Fernando and his team

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I think Santander missed a trick in this photo. Around the chequered flag they had their advertising but it didn't stretch down to the team. Apart from the flag post, the team is where most people are going to shoot and Santander is missing from the wall. It suits me because I like nice clean backgrounds and the red works well with the car and the team. Alonso has one hand in the air - I would have liked to have two, but I guess I'm just being critical now - so it really does create a great image. Alonso is absolutely on fire at the moment and the team love him and have really warmed to him this season. The car doesn't really look that trick, but they just get their work done each weekend, bring little updates and at the moment it's all working for them. It's amazing how he was able to defend from Jenson Button, even in the DRS zone, so he's clearly comfortable with the car.

Hungary - Lewis celebrates

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After doing the parc ferme shot when Lewis was saluting his team, we managed to get his attention and get him to look up. We were just shouting and there were three times he looked up at us, which is good. It creates a great shot because he's looking right at us as he sprays the champagne. I was just swapping between lenses for different shots but it was quite tight; you never actually see where we shoot from but there was five of us up there and the space for five was not good! It was restricted but I pulled a fast one and didn't tell anyone I was going up there. I managed to sort it out just before the race and it turned out to be worth it. It's all about getting the best pictures at the end of the day and getting something unusual - something from a different angle that nobody else has got - and hopefully that convinces the editors to use the pictures more because they've got something completely different.

The big one

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It's difficult to know when you're shooting a photo like this who is to blame. I captured it from the start and I followed Romain Grosjean as his car flew into the air and I could also see Fernando in the air, but I didn't really see anything of Lewis. If you look at the frame sequence and how long it took, it probably took five seconds max and if you watch it on TV you don't really see the height that these guys get, unless you watch it in car. It's hard to fully see the ferocity of the accident and the explosion of carbon fibre that happens until you see it in a picture. On TV you saw Lewis walking back to the garage with a bit of his car and that's because he found it in the pit lane! It came off his car with such force that it flew into the pit lane exit by the lights, which is just incredible and actually quite scary.

Forza Alonso

Model: Canon EOS-1D Mark IV ¦ ISO Speed: 200 ¦ Aperture: F8 ¦ Focal length: 500.0mm ¦ Exposure: 1/500 Sec ¦ Exposure mode: Shutter priority © Sutton Images
I thought this was a very funny moment from Fernando, and shows his state of mind to be quite the opposite to Lewis at present. He was in such a good mood all weekend; Alonso was present for a Ferrari presentation after a guy from Google won an auction for a 599 XX that was raising money for earthquake victims. However, having done his bit he then took a photo with his iPhone from the photographers' position to put on Twitter and probably beat us to uploading the picture! Franco from FOM is the cameraman who Fernando took this camera from; he knows the drivers and usually has them kissing into his lens or getting soaked! Fernando's trying to get them to wave here and the pictures were actually broadcast by FOM. I also noticed Fernando signed loads of autographs one morning when the rest of the drivers just walk in with a token wave for the fans - Alonso spent a good ten minutes making sure everyone got what they wanted from him. No wonder the tifosi love him so much.

Dream team?

Camera model: Canon EOS-1D X | Exposure time: 1/500s | Aperture: F11 | ISO speed: 16000 | Lens: 16-35mm © Sutton Images

Could this be the Mercedes dream team? They've been good mates and rivals since their karting days and now there's a chance they could be in the same team together. I took the photo on Friday evening after the drivers' briefing, which is a good opportunity to get photos of the drivers. But this time there were absolutely no other photographers around because it's almost like people do their work and they leave because by then it's the early hours of the morning. I hang around because I always think there is more work to do, but other people just tend to disappear - not that I'm complaining.

Fanatical fans

(Top left image) Camera model: Canon EOS-1D Mark IV | Exposure time: 1/300s | Aperture: F16 | ISO speed: 400 | Lens: 16-35mm zoom © Sutton Images

It seemed that this year the fans were the craziest I'd seen them for a long time since the Senna and Mansell days. I don't know why, but they just seem to be getting a bit more back in to it now with samurai swords, engines on their backs, cars on top of their heads and flags; they seem to be making a lot of their own stuff and then mixing it with official stuff. It's very funny and they're so enthusiastic, it's brilliant, I love it. They're probably the most enthusiastic of the year. Some of the shots were taken Friday and some were taken race day, and I actually went in to the crowd on race day - which was a bit bizarre - and had a little wander round. I gave out a few of the Sutton and GPWEEK cards to fans I'd taken pictures of and the next minute there were hands coming in left, right and centre because they all wanted something that was free! So I gave out about 500 cards in a couple of minutes and it actually felt a bit dangerous like when drivers sign their autographs. I signed a few and it was quite nice having to do that though, because the drivers don't tend to go in the public area so for the fans to see someone from the paddock go out in the merchandise area was quite rare. It was quite good to go out there and meet the fans, mention this column I do for ESPN and give out the cards so it was quite a good PR exercise but mainly a good experience in terms of meeting people because they are completely bonkers!

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

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.

India - a land of contrasts

Camera model: Canon EOS-1D X | Exposure: 1/640s | Aperture: F4 | ISO Speed: 2000 | Lens: 70-200mm © Sutton Images
This a nice picture and really highlights the contrast you see when you're in India. It's probably one of the oldest tractors in existence and there it is trundling past a Red Bull that's probably worth $5 million; the tractor's probably worth $5 in scrap metal! It's the fact that outside the track you've got people living in poverty right next door to this multi-million pound circus in this track. I think the reason it was there was because they were doing some repairs to the track barriers and this was the only tractor with a welding kit. Maybe it's a classic, I don't know, but it makes a great contrast with the F1 car in the background.

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.

Lights out

Camera model: Canon EOS-1D X | Exposure: 1/640s | Aperture: F9 | ISO Speed: 400 | Lens: 70-200mm © Sutton Images
It was really weird doing the start; I did the grid and then managed to get a shuttle bus up to turn one which saved me five minutes' walk so it was great. We'd been there a few times and what they've done is create a high tower at turn one. Basically if you were shooting it from the ground there would be a black spot where you wouldn't see the cars because of the angle of the hill, so what they had to do was build the tower tall enough so there wouldn't be a black spot when the start happened. So, again, you've got to take your hats off to them because they've thought about it. It's probably the biggest start tower in the world as it's two layers and if you compare it to the Indian tower which has a lot of holes in it, no stairs and no safety features, it's so different. They have a lot of health and safety regulations in America so the start tower was amazing compared to the likes of India. And then the start itself was a bit different; because they've made it so wide it's not your typical start shot. As they get to the brow the field spreads across the track and I think that's probably the reason there wasn't a crash, but it was still spectacular. The crowd was going mental on the first lap and you could actually here it, you could hear people shouting things like "Yee haw" - it was a real Texan welcome to Formula One and the noise from the crowd was just awesome.

Vettel's victory moment

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I can't pick a favourite out of these. With Schumacher beside him is a good moment, it's like the changing of the guard I suppose. They were side-by-side in parc ferme and it was a carnage moment as all the photographers were waiting and as soon as he came in we all ran to the car, it was a bit crazy. I got a reasonable position - you're never happy with what you've got - but I did a decent job with everyone else behind me. Then he went and sat on the car which was quite a nice shot as he pretended to be a bullfighter sat on the bull. Next he ran over to the team and the team picture was also carnage as we were all running through parc ferme after him, at any other race we probably would have been banned! Then I went across to the gate to go towards the TV pen and all of a sudden Seb and Christian Horner came over, so it was just me, two photographers and a TV camera. I was just shooting away and capturing really nice emotions as Christian was shouting at him "You've done it, you've done it, your third title" but I don't think Seb could take it all in. Christian had hold of his head and was shaking it with pure emotions and it seemed Seb couldn't believe it. These are the photos that show the real emotions; I didn't shoot the race podium or Red Bull's podium set-up because although they were great they're part of the script, not the immediate reaction or emotion which we really want.