Vettel sets new qualifying record in Brazil

After becoming the youngest double world champion in Japan and leading every lap in the inaugural Indian Grand Prix, Sebastian Vettel continues to set new records with his fifteenth pole position at Interlagos.

To equal Nigel Mansell’s 1992 record with 14 poles is impressive but what Sebastian Vettel has achieved this season is nothing short of remarkable.

The Red Bull Racing driver was quickest in Q2 and in the all-important top ten shootout, Vettel went even faster setting the initial lap time of one minute, 12.268 seconds. On his second run in Q3, the world champion improved with one minute, 11.918 seconds.

Mark Webber made it an all-Red Bull front row, winning a battle over McLaren’s Q1 pacesetter Jenson Button, who overcame his Interlagos qualifying disasters to take third position.

It seemed that Button would be starting the Brazilian Grand Prix on the front row, but in the final few moments of Q3, Webber came through with a time of one minute, 12.099 seconds to snatch the position.

Sporting a Senna-style helmet, McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton was only fourth with a lap time of one minute, 12.480 seconds.

The Scuderias took fifth and seventh with Nico Rosberg’s Mercedes in between Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa. Rosberg had earlier set a superb time in Q2 with second fastest. His Mercedes team-mate Michael Schumacher didn’t even bother setting a lap in Q3 in order to save a set of Pirellis and will start the race in tenth.

Force India’s Adrian Sutil took eighth ahead of Bruno Senna, who impressed on home ground to deliver a now rare Q3 appearance for Renault.

Outside the top ten, Rubens Barrichello produced a strong performance to get his Williams up to P12 for what may be his last Grand Prix start.

Paul di Resta and Vitaly Petrov could not match their respective team-mates and will line up in P11 and P16. While the Toro Rossos will share row seven, followed by the Saubers.

Pastor Maldonado was half a second down on his Williams team-mate Rubens Barrichello and was unfortunately knocked out in Q1. He will start in P18.

The new rear wing on the Lotus did not bring the hoped-for Q2 progress, however the team did move a step closer to those ahead with Heikki Kovalainen within half a second of Toro Rosso, Sauber and Williams pace.

HRT managed to get both its cars ahead of Virgin Racing, while Jerome D’Ambrosio outqualified Timo Glock in what could well be his final Virgin outing before being replaced by Charles Pic.

Qualifying positions from Interlagos:

1.  Sebastian Vettel      Red Bull-Renault     1m11.918s
2.  Mark Webber           Red Bull-Renault     1m12.099s
3.  Jenson Button         McLaren-Mercedes     1m12.283s
4.  Lewis Hamilton        McLaren-Mercedes     1m12.480s
5.  Fernando Alonso       Ferrari              1m12.591s
6.  Nico Rosberg          Mercedes             1m13.050s
7.  Felipe Massa          Ferrari              1m13.068s
8.  Adrian Sutil          Force India-Mercedes 1m13.298s
9.  Bruno Senna           Renault              1m13.761s
10.  Michael Schumacher    Mercedes    No time
11.  Paul di Resta         Force India-Mercedes 1m13.584s
12.  Rubens Barrichello    Williams-Cosworth    1m13.801s
13.  Jaime Alguersuari     Toro Rosso-Ferrari   1m13.804s
14.  Sebastien Buemi       Toro Rosso-Ferrari   1m13.919s
15.  Vitaly Petrov         Renault              1m14.053s
16.  Kamui Kobayashi       Sauber-Ferrari       1m14.129s
17.  Sergio Perez          Sauber-Ferrari       1m14.182s
18.  Pastor Maldonado      Williams-Cosworth    1m14.625s
19.  Heikki Kovalainen     Lotus-Renault        1m15.068s
20.  Jarno Trulli          Lotus-Renault        1m15.358s
21.  Tonio Liuzzi          HRT-Cosworth         1m16.631s
22.  Daniel Ricciardo      HRT-Cosworth         1m16.890s
23.  Jerome D’Ambrosio     Virgin-Cosworth      1m17.019s
24.  Timo Glock            Virgin-Cosworth      1m17.060s

107 per cent time: 1m18.410s

12 thoughts to “Vettel sets new qualifying record in Brazil”

  1. After taking his fifteenth pole position of the season, Sebastian Vettel has admitted it felt really ‘special’. has the story.

    Sebastian Vettel said he was emotional after securing what he labelled as a special record after setting a new benchmark for the most pole positions in a season in Brazil.

    The German driver grabbed his 30th career pole and the 15th of the year to break Nigel Mansell’s record, established in 1992 over 16 races.

    The 2011 season has had 19 events.

    A delighted Vettel said it was a special record for him, admitting he had given it all during his final run in Q3.

    “There has been quite some talk before qualifying and this weekend about this particular record and I think the best thing was to not just think about it,” said Vettel.

    “Yesterday we had a rough start to the weekend and were not 100 per cent happy with the balance yet but we made the right choices overnight and going into qualifying I was happier and enjoying the moment, enjoying the laps I had.

    “I was happy with the first lap in Q3 but we knew there was more to come. I put everything into the last lap.

    “It was emotional when I crossed the line as I knew I had given it all. Then I had to wait quite a long time to see if the time was good enough or not, but then ears kept popping: the engineer told me Button was P2, then Mark P2 so I got pole position.

    “It took the masters in that discipline a few races less, but this is special to me. I am happy to be here.”

    The world champion said that, despite his dominance of qualifying this year, it had not been an easy achievement.

    “It’s not easy to put it all in one lap,” he said. “All the circuits are different, so sometimes you are not so happy – other times I was happy with what I did or what could do.

    “This year I was able to put most of the time everything into that one lap or final run in Q3. There is no secret. Once we go into qualifying we all enjoy it. On the final run you know it is different to a practice run. You are so excited, so nervous as it is the lap. To build up to it is great and after that is like a rush.”

  2. It was another Red Bull one-two with Vettel taking his 30th career pole position. As for Mark Webber, the Australian commented later that he needed to apply pressure on his team-mate in qualifying. has the details.

    Mark Webber said he was pleased to at least keep Red Bull team-mate Sebastian Vettel on his toes in Brazilian Grand Prix qualifying at Interlagos.

    Webber could not prevent Vettel wrapping up a record 15th pole position of the 2011 season, but was within 0.181 seconds of his team-mate.

    “Today’s qualifying went very well,” said Webber after completing Red Bull’s seventh front row sweep of the season. “The whole weekend has been pretty strong. It’s nice to keep the heat on Seb.”

    Vettel’s result meant he beat Nigel Mansell’s record tally of 14 poles in a single year.

    “Unfortunately I could not look after Nigel and get pole,” Webber joked. “To be honest we both got the most out of the car and I’m looking forward to the race tomorrow.”

    Rain is forecast for the race, and though Webber said he would prefer the dry, he was relaxed about whatever the weather held.

    “The car is more consistent and more controllable in a way when it is a dry track,” said Webber. “This is one of the trickier venues when it is wet, but that is a challenge of a grand prix driver – to perform in all conditions.”

  3. Finally Jenson Button has broke his qualifying curse with third position on the grid for McLaren. has the story.

    Jenson Button said he was happy to break his Brazilian Grand Prix qualifying curse after putting his McLaren third on the grid for Sunday’s race.

    Despite winning the world championship at Interlagos in 2009, the McLaren driver had gone six years since he last qualified inside the top 10 at the circuit, a fourth place on the grid for the 2005 race being his last top starting spot.

    Having put memories of the intervening period out of his mind, Button has set his sights on beating Red Bull drivers Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber – who start on the front row – and taking his fourth victory of the 2011 season.

    “I’m excited about tomorrow; it’s the last race of year and I want to end it on a high,” said Button. “I am enjoying this moment, this is my best qualifying for six years.

    “I always love racing here; it’s such a good circuit for racing and fighting. Out of last corner into Turn 1 is good for overtaking, and now we have DRS out of Turn 3, hopefully I can get these two [Vettel and Webber] tomorrow.

    “Whatever happens, it has been a great season for us, but just not quite good enough. There are some areas we still have to work on, but hopefully we can have a good race tomorrow.”

    Button believes he could have qualified higher than third, such was the progress made by the McLaren team on set-up following the final practice session.

    “I thought we’d be further up the grid, which showed what a good job we did. It was a good day and a much stronger time than last year,” he added.

    “We made a few adjustments after Q2 even and I thought the set-up on the option tyre was as good as we were going to get, but the lap was pretty ragged. I feel I was quicker on the prime, but we didn’t quite have the balance.”

  4. Jamie Alguersuari is predicting a chaotic Brazilian Grand Prix on Sunday due to the rain expected to hit the circuit.

    The Spanish driver qualified in 13th position on Saturday and was pleased to be ahead of the Saubers, with which his Toro Rosso team is fighting for seventh place in the championship.

    Alguersuari is aware, however, that the points are only awarded on Sunday, and said it will be vital to have a sensible race if it rains.

    Toro Rosso is currently just one point behind Sauber ahead of the season finale.

    “P13 and P14 on the grid is not so bad for the team,” said Alguersuari. “I am pleased to be ahead of Sauber on the grid, but the points are only given out tomorrow, when we can expect a chaotic race because it is meant to rain.

    “The key in those conditions will be not to do anything stupid, nor take too many risks, stay calm and then finish the race. The track conditions have changed a lot even from this morning to this session, but if it rains that evolution won’t continue and it should be an interesting race.”

    Team-mate Sebastian Buemi qualified in 14th place, the Swiss unhappy with his position after being unable to post any timed laps in final practice because of a technical problem.

    “I am not happy with the result, even if I feel I did the best I could this afternoon,” he said. “However, we did not have a good preparation for qualifying, as I was unable to run in the morning.

    “Added to the fact I did not drive in FP1, because Jean-Eric was in my car on Friday morning, I’ve really had very few laps so far this weekend. We must learn from these mistakes to ensure we don’t make them again. As for tomorrow’s race, anything is possible, because I think our car is quite competitive, so I am hopeful of having a good afternoon.”


  5. Sunday’s Grand Prix could be a wet race and Sauber are pinning their hopes on rain after a difficult qualifying session. has the story.

    Sauber’s head of track engineering Giampaolo Dall’Ara is hoping the rain helps his team make progress in the rain tomorrow after a difficult qualifying.

    Kamui Kobayashi qualified in 16th position, with team-mate Sergio Perez one place down. Crucially, both men will start from behind Toro Rosso drivers Jamie Alguersuari and Sebastien Buemi.

    The Swiss squad is fighting to retain seventh place in the standings, and is just one point clear of its rivals.

    Dall’Ara conceded the result was not what the team wanted, but is hopeful the rain will help the Hinwil squad.

    “This is obviously not the result we wanted, but it looks as if this was the limit today,” said Dall’Ara. “In the end, both our drivers were at the same level.

    “We had a trouble-free session, but the performance just didn’t allow us to finish higher up on the grid. For tomorrow there is a high chance of rain, and we will definitely be ready to make up ground in the race.”

    Perez also said it was disappointing to finish behind the Toro Rossos after a tough day.

    “It was a disappointing qualifying with the outcome that the Toro Rosso cars, our direct competitors, are in front of us,” he said.

    “The main problem for me was that the car was so inconsistent: every lap was different, and I couldn’t get temperature into the tyres. However, we will not give up. If we get mixed weather conditions tomorrow, anything can happen.”

  6. Heikki Kovalainen declared his Brazilian Grand Prix qualifying performance one of his best of the 2011 season, even though Lotus did not achieve its goal of getting into Q2 with its upgraded car.

    Lotus hoped the arrival of a new rear wing with an improved DRS would allow it to make a final step forward at the end of the year.

    Although Kovalainen was not far behind the Toro Rossos, Saubers and Williams, he was still 19th on the grid – but remained satisfied, especially as he had to dig deep to beat team-mate Jarno Trulli.

    “That is a great way to end qualifying for the season, one of the really good laps,” he said. “I’ve had a lot of good sessions this year but that really stands out as one of the best.

    “Jarno has been strong here all weekend and I was just behind him after the first runs so I had to really pull out everything to beat him. We made a couple of adjustments to the tyres and it paid off with that final lap with seconds left on the clock.

    “We’ve also finished here closer to the opposition than we have all season, and even though it’s a shorter lap here it’s still a very good sign that we’ve found quite a bit of time with the new rear wing and I think that will help us again tomorrow.”

    Team boss Tony Fernandes was also pleased with Lotus’ pace relative to the cars ahead.

    “We were within a second of cars right up to 11th place, and just over 0.4s off Williams, so to bring to an end our qualifying for 2011, having made up that amount of time, is a real achievement,” he said.

    “People forget that we do not have KERS this year. If we had KERS, as we do next season, would clearly be fighting in the midfield, so I am very happy with how far we have come in such a short amount of time.”


  7. Williams driver Rubens Barrichello was delighted with his qualifying performance. The Brazilian qualified in P12. has the story.

    Rubens Barrichello declared himself delighted with his performance in qualifying for the Brazilian Grand Prix on Saturday.

    The Williams driver will start the race from 12th position, the Brazilian very happy with his final run in the second qualifying segment.

    Now Barrichello is looking to capitalise in the race.

    “I feel great! I’m so glad that I put in a good lap because I have lots of family here this weekend,” said the Brazilian.

    “Also for the team and for the fans, it really felt like they were pushing me on which was an amazing feeling. I have to drive 71 laps like that tomorrow but we have the best chance now so let’s hope for a good one.”

    Team-mate Pastor Maldonado, on the other hand, endured a difficult day after struggling to find the right balance with the soft tyres.

    The Venezuelan rookie was knocked out in Q1 and will start from 18th.

    “We’re a bit on the back foot with P18,” he said. “We didn’t find the best balance on the option tyre and so didn’t get a clean lap in.

    “I will need to make up lots of ground in the race but after doing that in Abu Dhabi, I’m optimistic I can do it again here.”

  8. McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton is hoping the rain on Sunday will give him the best opportunity following a difficult qualifying session at Interlagos. has the story.

    Lewis Hamilton believes the rain will give him a good chance to get a good result in the Brazilian Grand Prix after a disappointing qualifying.

    The Briton will start from fourth position, behind Jenson Button, and he conceded he was not happy with his showing after failing to match his McLaren team-mate’s pace.

    “A little bit disappointing, really,” said Hamilton. “We are still on the second row but of course we would love to be higher up.

    “My performance I’m not to happy about in the sense that I wasn’t quick enough. I’m a couple of tenths off Jenson, so clearly the car can be a little bit quicker, but the Red Bulls were just massively quick today.”

    Hamilton said qualifying was a “bit of a struggle” for him, but he reckons the predicted rain will give him a good opportunity to recover in the race tomorrow.

    “It was okay. It was a bit of a struggle really in the car. Just struggled to pull any more time out of the lap. Still we are on the second row, which is not a bad position to start from.

    “I’ve started from fourth a lot of the times here. Let’s hope tomorrow is wet, so we wait and see. It can be very tricky here with the weather and I think tomorrow is going to rain, so that makes the chances even greater.

    “Four is a good number for me, and let’s hope we can turn that into something more positive tomorrow.”

  9. Mercedes GP’s Michael Schumacher hopes the qualifying strategy – in which he didn’t set a lap time in Q3 to save a set of tyres – will pay off in the race. has the details.

    Michael Schumacher believes his strategic approach to qualifying will pay off in Sunday’s Brazilian Grand Prix.

    The seven-time world champion did not complete a flying lap in Q3, consigning himself to 10th place on the grid at Interlagos – four places behind his Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg.

    But, having taken a compromise set-up on his car, in case of rain on race day, he believes that he can finish comfortably inside the points, wet or dry.

    “The forecast says there is a high probability for rain during the race. With this in mind, we have kept all of our options open for tomorrow and we had a strategic approach to qualifying today,” Schumacher said.

    “Still we need to find out why we weren’t able to match our times from this morning. There will be a lot of data checking now, so that tomorrow it will be very different and we can attack for some points.”

    Team principal Ross Brawn said that Schumacher’s opening lap form will be key to his race result, the 42-year-old German having often made up two places or more from his starting spot.

    “Michael took a measured approach to Q3, in order to save a set of new tyres [for the race], and he is in a good position strategically,” Brawn said.

    “We know how good he has been on the first lap this year, so we’re looking forward to finding out what will be possible in the race.

    “Rain is still forecast for tomorrow but the same was true of today, so we are working with a measure of uncertainty.”

  10. Bruno Senna said he was surprised by his performance in qualifying for the Brazilian Grand Prix after reaching the top ten.

    The Renault driver qualified in ninth position after a strong showing, but he conceded it was an unexpected result given his team’s recent struggles.

    Senna believes he could have finished even higher up had he not used up all his soft tyres before Q3, but was still delighted with the result.

    “I’m very happy with that,” said Senna. “It was not what I was expecting when the weekend started but it’s good news. We knew the car had good potential here, but we just weren’t sure the level of that potential – the R31 behaved very well today!

    “In qualifying 2, the team put a good car together and we did a great job. It’s a shame we had used tyres going into Q3 because we could have had an even better result. Having said that, being in Q3 was a victory in itself.”

    Team-mate Vitaly Petrov had a more difficult day, the Russian winding up 15th after claiming he had lost grip during his final run in Q2.

    “I’m naturally disappointed with my position because we have been improving the car step by step throughout the weekend and we thought there was more to come from it,” he said.

    “We changed the car set-up quite a lot to accommodate for the change in temperature between FP3 and qualifying. As for qualifying itself, I didn’t actually feel I made many mistakes; I had quite a quick lap at the end of Q1 but then I lost some grip on my lap in Q2, which left me where it did.”


  11. Force India’s Adrian Sutil is targeting a ninth place finish in the drivers’ championship following a strong qualifying session in Interlagos. has the details.

    Adrian Sutil says he is targeting finishing ninth in the drivers’ standings after another strong effort in qualifying in Brazil.

    Sutil is currently 11th in the championship, tied on points with the absent Nick Heidfeld and two behind Renault’s Vitaly Petrov.

    The Force India driver qualified in eighth position, seven places ahead of Petrov, and he is confident he can secure enough points to jump ahead of the Russian.

    “Another good qualifying session for me to carry on a strong weekend,” said Sutil. “I had a good feeling all afternoon and I really enjoyed the session because the balance of the car felt great. The only real issue was the fact that it was quite windy, but I was able to adjust my driving and it didn’t catch me out.

    “Eighth is a good place to start and I’m feeling confident for tomorrow – whether it’s wet or dry. We just have to wait and see what the weather does, but I hope we can come away with a lot of points because I’m targeting ninth place in the drivers’ championship. That would be a nice way to end the season.”

    Sutil’s team-mate Paul di Resta will start the race from 11th position after missing the cut to go into Q3 this time out.

    The Scot said he was baffled by a lack of top speed from his car.

    “I knew it was going to be quite a tough session because I was suffering with a top speed delta compared to Adrian’s car and we’ve not been able to fully understand why that’s the case,” said di Resta. “It meant I was giving away some time on the straights, which is a little frustrating.

    “On the other hand, I have to be reasonably satisfied with P11 and the fact that I only just missed out on Q3. There’s rain forecast for tomorrow and we know the car has been competitive in the wet so hopefully we can capitalise on that. And if it’s dry we should be strong because our pace during long runs has looked pretty good.”

  12. Fernando Alonso believes his performance in qualifying for the Brazilian Grand Prix has flattered the actual pace of his Ferrari.

    The Spanish driver finished in fifth position, but just three tenths behind McLaren’s Jenson Button and one tenth adrift of Lewis Hamilton.

    Alonso said he was expecting a much tougher challenge from Mercedes, and reckons the small gap to McLaren showed the team managed to extract everything from its car.

    “My subscription to fifth place has been extended for one more Saturday,” said Alonso, who has started from fifth place eight times this year. “This time however, getting to my classic starting place on the grid was a bit more of a struggle than usual.

    “We are not very pleased with the balance of the car and we were expecting a very competitive Mercedes. However, in Q3, we got much closer to the McLarens than we could have expected, while the first of the Mercedes was left a few tenths back. What this means is that we managed to get a little bit more out of it than our potential would indicate.”

    The Ferrari driver also believes the race will be very open if, as expected, rain hits the circuit.

    “If it really rains tomorrow, it will be a very exciting and open race: no one really knows how competitive they can be in the wet and then it requires next to nothing – one lap more or less out on track at a time when the conditions change – to turn around a situation that looks set in stone.”

    Felipe Massa had a disappointing day ahead of his home race, the Brazilian finishing in seventh position, nearly half a second behind Alonso.

    “I was expecting more from this final qualifying of the year and I definitely cannot be happy with this seventh place,” Massa said. “Unfortunately, we were unable to find the right balance throughout the weekend.

    “On top of that, it was a rather complicated day. I had to use two sets of Softs in Q2 and I paid for that in Q3, as I could only do one run. Tomorrow it’s supposed to rain so the situation could change.”


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