Vettel takes pole in soaking Sao Paulo

Sebastian Vettel achieved his 45th career pole position in Formula 1 despite the wet conditions at Interlagos, Sao Paulo.

The 2013 world champion took the top spot by a margin of six tenths of a second over rival Nico Rosberg. A clear sign of his dominance this season.

The Red Bull Racing driver was in flying form in an Q3 session delayed by 47 minutes due to intense rainfall.

Although Romain Grosjean briefly held provisional pole by taking on intermediates before anyone else, Vettel’s first lap on that rubber put him 1.1 seconds clear of all his rivals.

Nico Rosberg and Fernando Alonso were left to battle for second position, with the Mercedes eventually taking it and reducing Vettel’s advantage to 0.623 seconds.

Third was still an excellent result for Alonso given Ferrari’s recent form, as he held off Mark Webber by 0.063s seconds.

Lewis Hamilton was half a second off team-mate Rosberg’s pace in fifth, while Grosjean tumble down to sixth for Lotus.

Toro Rosso starred in the wet conditions and got both cars into Q3. Daniel Ricciardo and Jean-Eric Vergne will share row four, beating Felipe Massa’s Ferrari and Nico Hulkenberg’s Sauber.

Conditions had fluctuated through both Q1 and Q2, with the latter getting ever wetter.

That meant early times largely stood, except for Hulkenberg who managing to jump into tenth at the expense of Heikki Kovalainen, who missed out by 0.015 seconds.

Both Force Indias, McLarens and the Williams of Valtteri Bottas departed in Q2.

Despite crashing on the exit of the right-hander following Descida do Lago, Sergio Perez still managed to out-qualify Jenson Button to P14.

Q1 appeared to be following a similar pattern until a late improvement in track conditions allowed Vergne to escape the drop-zone.

That pushed Pastor Maldonado onto the elimination list, along with Esteban Gutierrez, the Caterhams and the Marussias, with Charles Pic ‘best of the rest’ by half a second.

So yet another qualifying masterclass from the four-time world champion. Can Sebastian Vettel score nine consecutive victories on race day? Or will we see his Red Bull Racing team-mate Mark Webber winning in his final Formula 1 race. It’s going to be a fascinating Brazilian Grand Prix.

Qualifying times from Interlagos:

1. Sebastian Vettel      Red Bull-Renault     1m26.479s
2. Nico Rosberg          Mercedes             1m27.102s
3. Fernando Alonso       Ferrari              1m27.539s
4. Mark Webber           Red Bull-Renault     1m27.572s
5. Lewis Hamilton        Mercedes             1m27.677s
6. Romain Grosjean       Lotus-Renault        1m27.737s
7. Daniel Ricciardo      Toro Rosso-Ferrari   1m28.052s
8. Jean-Eric Vergne      Toro Rosso-Ferrari   1m28.081s
9. Felipe Massa          Ferrari              1m28.109s
10. Nico Hulkenberg       Sauber-Ferrari       1m29.582s
11. Heikki Kovalainen     Lotus-Renault        1m27.456s
12. Paul di Resta         Force India-Mercedes 1m27.798s
13. Valtteri Bottas       Williams-Renault     1m27.954s
14. Sergio Perez          McLaren-Mercedes     1m28.269s
15. Jenson Button         McLaren-Mercedes     1m28.308s
16. Adrian Sutil          Force India-Mercedes 1m28.586s
17. Pastor Maldonado      Williams-Renault     1m27.367s
18. Esteban Gutierrez     Sauber-Ferrari       1m27.445s
19. Charles Pic           Caterham-Renault     1m27.843s
20. Giedo van der Garde   Caterham-Renault     1m28.320s
21. Jules Bianchi         Marussia-Cosworth    1m28.366s
22. Max Chilton           Marussia-Cosworth    1m28.950s

107 per cent time: 1m31.315s

8 thoughts to “Vettel takes pole in soaking Sao Paulo”

  1. After achieving his 45th career pole position in Formula 1, Sebastian Vettel was shocked by his dominance in qualifying, in particular the margin between his rivals. has the news story.

    Sebastian Vettel said the scale of his Brazilian Grand Prix qualifying dominance came as a shock.

    The wet weather at Interlagos was expected to close up the playing field.

    But instead Vettel produced one of his most commanding performances of the season as he initially took provisional pole by over a second and was still 0.623 seconds quicker than main rival Nico Rosberg at the end of the session.

    “It’s a big surprise,” said Vettel of his margin of superiority. “I was so happy after the qualifying.

    “When we got out I was surprised by how much water had gone. I went straight onto intermediates and was able to do a very, very good lap straight away.

    “I tried on my second lap to beat that and it was very close. So I was very happy with both my laps and surprised by the margin.

    “It’s great to get it all right in these conditions. We had very little practice but got the car where we wanted.”

    Vettel also backed the decision to delay Q3 by just over three quarters of an hour due to the rain level, even though by the time the session started, the track was nearly ready for intermediates.

    “It was a shame for the people who waited for us, but there was too much water and the risk of aquaplaning was too high,” he said.

  2. Lotus driver Heikki Kovalainen has admitted he wasn’t quick enough in the wet qualifying session at Interlagos. The Finn will start the Brazilian Grand Prix down in P11. has the details.

    Heikki Kovalainen took full responsibility for his failure to reach Q3 in Brazilian Grand Prix qualifying.

    The Lotus driver missed out on a place in the pole shootout by just 0.015 seconds and will start 11th for his second appearance in Kimi Raikkonen’s former seat.

    Although the level of rain at Interlagos varied during Q2, Kovalainen declined to use the weather as an excuse.

    “The car was good, just simply not enough pace in myself today,” he said.

    “I couldn’t find any more grip and couldn’t go any quicker.

    “I can’t really find any excuses at the moment. I just simply wasn’t fast enough.

    “I have no problem with these conditions, it’s the same for everybody and you’ve got to be able to manage all conditions.”

    Although Lotus has often fared better in hot conditions in recent seasons, Kovalainen does not think rain would be a problem for his car on Sunday.

    “I think it’s been performing quite well in the rain,” he said.

    “In the dry, we don’t know. It might be worse, who knows?

    “I honestly think the car is performing well. In the race we’ve just got to nail it a few more times.”

  3. Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg has admitted that he used up KERS too early during his qualifying run at Interlagos. has the story.

    Nico Rosberg said part of the gulf to Sebastian Vettel in Brazilian Grand Prix qualifying was due to him using up his KERS too soon at the end of Q3.

    The Mercedes driver did two back-to-back flying laps on intermediates during the pole shootout as he qualified second.

    He ended up 0.623 seconds adrift of Vettel, but lost four tenths of a second in the final sector on his best lap.

    “I finished my KERS before the last sector, unfortunately,” Rosberg explained.

    “That is just a compromise from doing two consecutive laps in these wet conditions.

    “That was to be expected and we chose to do it that way, and that cost us some laptime.”

    But Rosberg doubted he could have beaten Vettel even if he had saved his KERS.

    “I am surprised by the gap to Sebastian,” Rosberg admitted. “It’s very big.

    “It definitely would’ve been difficult to get close to him even if we had got everything perfect.

    “The optimum was second place, and we got that.”

  4. Even though this was a promising grid position for the Brazilian Grand Prix – third – Fernando Alonso admits the front row slipped away during the wet qualifying session. has the details.

    Fernando Alonso believes his mistake at the end of his final qualifying lap for the Brazilian Grand Prix cost him his first front row of the 2013 Formula 1 season.

    The Spaniard looked set for second position based on his first sector time, but went off at Turn 4 and lost over eight tenths.

    He finished the session in third position, a second behind polesetter Sebastian Vettel.

    Ferrari driver Alonso has not qualified on the front row of the grid since last year’s German Grand Prix.

    “I went off at Turn 4, I was very late and missed the corner, it was very slippery,” said Alonso. “I exited eight tenths behind.

    “[My pace] was not enough for pole position but it was enough for second place. The lap was not completely clear today.”

    Alonso reckons if the conditions remain wet for Sunday, he will have a better chance than in a dry race.

    “Mixed conditions would be the best thing probably,” said the Spaniard. “With the weather forecast we have and we saw today how quick it goes from extreme to nearly dry so tomorrow will be fun.

    “We know that in wet conditions we improve our performance a little bit. We were waiting for some wet races this year.”

    He admitted to some pangs of frustrations at not making the most of Saturday’s chance.

    “I have mixed feelings, to be honest,” said Alonso.

    “I am happy to be so high up on the grid finally because we normally start between seventh and 10th in the last few grands prix, which is not ideal.

    “But I’m not totally happy with my lap.”

  5. Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton has admitted that he still needs to work on his performance following a challenging qualifying session. has the news story.

    Lewis Hamilton admitted he needed to ‘work harder’ to adapt to his Mercedes’ wet-weather characteristics after being outpaced by team-mate Nico Rosberg in Brazilian Grand Prix qualifying.

    Hamilton took several famous victories in the rain during his McLaren career, but since moving to Mercedes for the 2013 Formula 1 season he has struggled in the wet.

    He said being half a second off front-row qualifier Rosberg and only fifth on the Interlagos grid was no surprise.

    “That’s kind of where I thought I would be, considering,” said Hamilton.

    “I did my best out there but I’m struggling. There’s not really much more I can say.”

    Hamilton believes the main issue is a lack of mileage in the Mercedes in the rain.

    “When I was at McLaren, I knew the car,” he said.

    “I was there for a long, long time and it suited me easier than the one I’m driving right now.

    “I’ve just got to do some more work.”

  6. McLaren’s Jenson Button believes a lack of running cost him the opportunity to qualifier higher on the grid. has the details.

    Jenson Button reckons a lack of running on the intermediate tyre during Friday’s practice sessions lead to his low starting position for the Brazilian Grand Prix.

    He managed to post a competitive lap time during the first segment of qualifying – less than a second off the ultimate pace – when track conditions were at their best, but suffered when the rain became heavier during Q2.

    The Briton puts this down to a failure to experience similar conditions during practice as the team wanted to preserve their allocation of intermediate tyres.

    “We sat out most of practice to save the tyres,” said Button. “It seemed like the right thing to do, but we haven’t run on intermediates in the wet, only in the dry.”

    “I struggled in Q2 because there was so much water on the circuit, and I think we’ve proven it was the wrong call to save the tyres.”

    Button starts the final grand prix of the season in 15th place and is staring down the barrel of his first win-less season since 2008.

    He confessed that he is glad this year’s campaign is coming to an end and is eager to put it behind him.

    “One more day of pain and hopefully we can start work on a good car for next year.

    “I’m looking forward to the end of tomorrow’s race.”

    Team-mate Sergio Perez crashed out during the latter stages of Q2 after losing the back end over the kerbs at Turn 5.

    The Mexican attributed a lack of tyre pressure to his swift exit from the session.

    “We made a mistake with the tyre pressures because the car was not responding at all,” he said. “I was trying to improve on my final lap, but I couldn’t find any grip at all.

    “The crash looked far worse than it was.”

    Perez starts his final race for McLaren ahead of Button in 14th position.

  7. Max Chilton and Esteban Gutierrez have been given reprimands for crossing the white line in the pitlane entry during final practice for the Brazilian Grand Prix.

    Marussia driver Chilton and Sauber man Gutierrez did not stay to the left of the white line in the pitlane entry as was defined in the event notes by the race director.

    The reprimand was the first for Gutierrez and the second for Chilton this year.

    Chilton’s team has also been handed a 5000 euro fine for having released its cars in front of others while waiting in line at the start of the qualifying session.

    The Briton qualified in 22nd place, behind team-mate Jules Bianchi.

    A total of 12 drivers have been hit with official reprimands during the 2013 season.

    Any driver incurring three is automatically hit with a 10-place grid penalty, providing at least two of them were for ‘driving’ offences.


  8. Red Bull’s Mark Webber has blamed his qualifying performance on the tyre discomfort during a wet session at Interlagos. has the story.

    Mark Webber blamed his disappointing qualifying performance at the Brazilian Grand Prix on being unable to get the best out of his final set of intermediate tyres.

    The Australian had looked set to be a threat for pole position with Red Bull again so strong at Interlagos, but in the end he could manage no better than fourth – more than one second adrift of team-mate Sebastian Vettel.

    “I just never felt comfortable on the last set,” explained Webber. “It was better on the extreme.

    “With the inters, I knew it was rubbish on the first lap – so I tried to get it on the second lap, and the third lap. I thought I would be worse off anyway, so that was that.”

    Webber’s struggles on the intermediates mean he would prefer a dry race on Sunday, but he also knows changeable weather conditions offer him an opportunity to upset the formbook.

    “It makes it a lot trickier and it does open it up a lot,” he said. “We know that and history shows that when you have greasy wet races, intermediate, safety cars, full wets, driver errors, all sorts – it happens.”

    When asked if he believed then that there was a chance to win, he said: “There are also other cars in front, not just Seb unfortunately.

    “He is the favourite and he has won the last 1000 races, so we will see how it goes tomorrow.”

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