An epic qualifying session ended with Rubens Barrichello on pole position for tomorrow’s Brazilian Grand Prix. Heavy rain delayed the start of the sessions and then there were red flags for accidents and incidents as well.
So it is advantage Barrichello. The Brazilian needs to score five points more that Button tomorrow to take the fight to the final race in Abu Dhabi. Button needs a cool nerve, a win for Barrichello would require Button to finish third to take the title. But Mark Webber, who traded pole position times with Barrichello in Q3, will attack from the outset and as he is no longer in the hunt, he will have nothing to lose.
The other championship contender Sebastian Vettel had a nightmare day. The driver most people were tipping for pole in the dry, had set his car up for a dry race and couldn’t get the grip in the wet. Traffic was also a problem for him, but he did get some clear laps and he crashed out in first qualifying. He will start the race tomorrow in 16th on the grid.
There was a lot of standing water on the track, with rivers running across the track surface at many points. Most drivers experienced aquaplaning, the stepped floor acting almost like a hull, especially on cars which were trying to run a low ride height. With the potential for a dry race in prospect, the temptation was to try to run a dry set up.
The conditions were very challenging and the delays were long. It took well over two and a half hours to get to the end; Giancarlo Fisichello spun his car early in the first qualifying session, which brought out a red flag. He had already set a time before he spun, but track conditions improved greatly after the stoppage and he ended up 20th.
The first session claimed some big scalps; as well as Vettel, Lewis Hamilton, Heikki Kovalainen and Giancarlo Fisichella and Nick Heidfeld were all eliminated.
The second session was red flagged as Tonio Liuzzi hit the pit wall hard, knocking all four wheel off his car.