Behind the Lens: Moment of Impact

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We work for the Formula 1 Singapore Grand Prix promoters, and a key image for them is obviously the start, with the Singapore logo on the bridge above the track. In 2017 I was tasked with getting this image.

I first shot the starting grid before walking down to turn one, and up into the grandstand, which has an area for the photographers. It's also head-on to the corner.

Using a 70-200mm lens allowed me to perfectly pre-frame and pre-focus the shot to include the Singapore bridge logo. It was then just a matter of waiting for the five red lights to go out; the cars to start the race and fill the bottom of the frame, and the job would be done – or so I thought.

The two Ferraris decided that night they would drive into each other and end their F1 World Championship challenge for 2017, and I was in the perfect position to shoot the whole sequence as they spun towards me.

This frame is very early in the accident, whilst the cars were under the bridge, but it ended with two-time F1 World Champion Fernando Alonso flying over another car right in front of us at the first turn.

The normal reaction from the photo tower after something like this while everyone looks around, is “Wow!” - quickly followed by “Did you get it?” I selected the best four or five frames and sent them from the camera to our onsite digital tech, and the shots were being used online before the cars even restarted the race.

Canon EOS-1D X Mark II, EF70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM lens. 1/1000s @ f4, ISO 2000.

About the author: Steven Tee has attended well over 500 F1 Grands Prix since 1984, working with a multitude of publications, teams, drivers and sponsors along the way. Check out Steven’s portfolio here.

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