World Champion Sebastian Vettel scored his 15th pole position of the season, setting a new record that beats the one set by Nigel Mansell which has stood for almost 20 years. It was Vettel’s 30th pole position in just 81 Grands Prix.
It was a scintillating lap by Vettel, only a tenth faster than team mate Mark Webber, but a perfect summing up of the season in many ways, as the German put everything together in one lap. The Red Bull’s prowess in the middle sector was the decisive factor in keeping them ahead of the McLaren of Jenson Button, who edged out team mate Hamilton with a very strong performance.
“These number are made for ever. I said to myself going into qualifying that I must get everything out of the car. It’s all about putting everything into one lap. Fortunately we had some great Saturdays and this feeling now is very special,” Vettel said.
Vettel acknowledged that he beat Mansell’s record with three more races in the season,
but it still clearly means a lot to him.
Rain showers had been forecast, but as the qualifying hour got underway the track was dry and the ambient temperature was high, but the wind was increasing in force.
Nevertheless everyone went out early to get a lap in as the weather was hard to predict.
Rubens Barrichello did a fantastic lap to get into Q2 half a second ahead of team mate Maldonado who was eliminated along with the new teams. Heikki Kovalainen was only 4/10ths of a second slower than the Williams, the best of the season, thanks to the new rear wing.
Meanwhile the HRT cars both outqualified the Virgin cars, Liuzzi ahead of Ricciardo for the first time since Korea.
In Q2 Paul Di Resta failed to make the most of a quick Force India car, ending up 11th three tenths behind team mate Sutil as he has been all weekend. “I really struggled. We have a top speed issue which gave away some lap time to the opposition,” he said.
Barrichello did an excellent job to get the Williams up to 12th when their expectation had been that they’d be in lower reaches of Q2. “The people pushed, I used the power of the people,” said a delighted Brazilian.
Bruno Senna did a great job to get his Renault into the top ten.
In Q3 Vettel set the pace in the first runs, three tenths ahead of Webber and four tenths up on Button. In his second run he broke through into the 1m 11s, with a perfect lap.
Button edged out Hamilton for the seventh time this season and the younger man was forced to admit he was beaten for pace,
“Jenson was massively quick today,” said Hamilton candidly. “I ended up a couple of tenths away from him, so clearly I could have gone a bit faster, but the fact is that although I didn’t make any mistakes on my best lap I just wasn’t quite quick enough on the day.”
Brazilian Grand Prix, Interlagos, Qualifying
1. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull 1m11.918s
2. Mark Webber Red Bull 1m12.099s + 0.181
3. Jenson Button McLaren 1m12.283s + 0.365
4. Lewis Hamilton McLaren 1m12.480s + 0.562
5. Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1m12.591s + 0.673
6. Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1m13.050s + 1.132
7. Felipe Massa Ferrari 1m13.068s + 1.150
8. Adrian Sutil Force India 1m13.298s + 1.380
9. Bruno Senna Renault 1m13.761s + 1.843
10. Michael Schumacher Mercedes
11. Paul di Resta Force India 1m13.584s + 1.138
12. Rubens Barrichello Williams 1m13.801s + 1.355
13. Jaime Alguersuari Toro Rosso 1m13.804s + 1.358
14. Sebastien Buemi Toro Rosso 1m13.919s + 1.473
15. Vitaly Petrov Renault 1m14.053s + 1.607
16. Kamui Kobayashi Sauber 1m14.129s + 1.683
17. Sergio Perez Sauber 1m14.182s + 1.736
18. Pastor Maldonado Williams 1m14.625s + 1.344
19. Heikki Kovalainen Lotus 1m15.068s + 1.787
20. Jarno Trulli Lotus 1m15.358s + 2.077
21. Tonio Liuzzi HRT 1m16.631s + 3.350
22. Daniel Ricciardo HRT 1m16.890s + 3.609
23. Jerome D’Ambrosio Virgin 1m17.019s + 3.738
24. Timo Glock Virgin 1m17.060s + 3.779