Hamilton leads McLaren front row in Brazil

Lewis Hamilton heads a McLaren front row in the all-important championship decider at Interlagos, denying his team-mate Jenson Button to pole position.

As for the title rivals Sebastian Vettel and Fernando Alonso, the Red Bull driver will start the Brazilian Grand Prix in fourth position while his Ferrari-powered opponent could only manage eighth.

Neither Vettel nor Alonso looked like they had the speed to fight for pole as McLaren took charge of Q3.

Hamilton and Button were fastest after the first runs, with Alonso in fifth at that stage while a mistake at the Descida do Lago left Vettel only sixth.

Both improved on their next qualifying runs, but Alonso’s gains were only marginal. The Spaniard held fourth, only to be demoted to eighth as others improved. His German rival was right down in tenth position at that stage, but was at least able to salvage fourth.

Meanwhile his Red Bull team-mate Mark Webber briefly deposed the McLarens at the head of the order, before Hamilton and Button’s final laps thrust them back to the top, 0.055 seconds apart.

Behind the McLarens and Red Bulls, Felipe Massa outqualified Alonso for the second time in the space of seven days as he claimed fifth.

Pastor Maldonado’s Williams and the Force India of Nico Hulkenberg also found themselves ahead of the championship contenders as they took sixth and seventh.

The final top ten spots went to the Lotus of Kimi Raikkonen and Nico Rosberg’s Mercedes.

Competing in his final qualifying session, Michael Schumacher recorded a disappointing result for himself and the team with only P14. Half a second down on his team-mate Rosberg. Not the ideal way to celebrate the end of his ‘second’ Formula One career.

Paul di Resta again struggled to match Force India team-mate Hulkenberg’s qualifying form too, ending up missing the Q3 cut in P11.

Also out in Q2 were Williams’s Bruno Senna, both Saubers and both Toro Rossos.

Romain Grosjean was knocked out in Q1 in dramatic fashion. The Lotus made contact with Pedro de la Rosa’s HRT on the start/finish straight when he tried to squeeze past the slower car as they passed the pit entry.

Grosjean brushed the barriers and was left with a mangled front wing, and although he did make it back out and do a lap that brought him back inside the cut-off, Daniel Ricciardo pushed him down to P18 moments later.

Vitaly Petrov narrowly beat Caterham team-mate Heikki Kovalainen to P19, the duo lapping half a second clear of Timo Glock’s Marussia.

Despite weather dominating conversation this weekend, the only rain of the afternoon came half an hour before the qualifying. That meant early Q1 laps were on intermediates, but the track was fully dry before the opening segment was over.

However rain is heading towards Sao Paulo on race day and it will be fascinating to see what kind of unexacting results will fall on Sebastian Vettel and Fernando Alonso following their less than ideal qualifying positions.

Qualifying times for the Brazilian Grand Prix, Interlagos:

1.  Lewis Hamilton        McLaren-Mercedes     1m12.458s
2.  Jenson Button         McLaren-Mercedes     1m12.513s
3.  Mark Webber           Red Bull-Renault     1m12.581s
4.  Sebastian Vettel      Red Bull-Renault     1m12.760s
5.  Felipe Massa          Ferrari              1m12.987s
6.  Pastor Maldonado      Williams-Renault     1m13.174s
7.  Nico Hulkenberg       Force India-Mercedes 1m13.206s
8.  Fernando Alonso       Ferrari              1m13.253s
9.  Kimi Raikkonen        Lotus-Renault        1m13.298s
10.  Nico Rosberg          Mercedes             1m13.489s
11.  Paul di Resta         Force India-Mercedes 1m14.121s
12.  Bruno Senna           Williams-Renault     1m14.219s
13.  Sergio Perez          Sauber-Ferrari       1m14.234s
14.  Michael Schumacher    Mercedes             1m14.334s
15.  Kamui Kobayashi       Sauber-Ferrari       1m14.380s
16.  Daniel Ricciardo      Toro Rosso-Ferrari   1m14.574s
17.  Jean-Eric Vergne      Toro Rosso-Ferrari   1m14.619s
18.  Romain Grosjean       Lotus-Renault        1m16.967s
19.  Vitaly Petrov         Caterham-Renault     1m17.073s
20.  Heikki Kovalainen     Caterham-Renault     1m17.086s
21.  Timo Glock            Marussia-Cosworth    1m17.508s
22.  Charles Pic           Marussia-Cosworth    1m18.104s
23.  Narain Karthikeyan    HRT-Cosworth         1m19.576s
24.  Pedro de la Rosa      HRT-Cosworth         1m19.699s

107 per cent time: 1m20.330s

14 thoughts to “Hamilton leads McLaren front row in Brazil”

  1. Championship leader Sebastian Vettel will not focus on his rival Fernando Alonso’s race position. Autosport.com has the details.

    Sebastian Vettel said his main focus after Brazilian Grand Prix qualifying was on figuring out where he had lost time in Q3 rather than on being four places clear of Formula 1 championship rival Fernando Alonso.

    Vettel and Alonso will start fourth and eighth respectively. Those positions make Alonso’s task of overturning a 13-point deficit look tough.

    But asked if the championship situation was the biggest thing on his mind, Vettel replied: “Not too much. I’ve just come out of qualifying knowing I could have done a little bit better. I’m keen to go back now and look at the data and see where I wasn’t quick enough.”

    Vettel had been fastest in Q2 before making a mistake on his first Q3 lap and then missing pole by 0.302 seconds on his second. His team-mate Mark Webber took third behind the McLarens.

    “Q3 was not 100 per cent perfect. Q2 was quite good for us,” said Vettel.

    “The first run in Q3 was not good for me as I did a mistake going into Turn 4.

    “The second run I was pretty happy with it but it wasn’t quick enough.”

    But he remains confident he will be a factor at the front in the race.

    “Obviously Mark was a bit quicker, but I think we are in good shape and we’ve competitive all weekend,” Vettel said.

    Alonso’s team-mate Felipe Massa starts just one place behind Vettel in fifth, but the Red Bull insisted this did not bother him in the slightest.

    “There are always going to be cars around you,” Vettel said. “It would be boring if it were just me on the grid. I think that’s pretty normal. We have mirrors on the car but we try not to use them too much.”

  2. HRT driver Pedro de la Rosa was left feeling baffled by Romain Grosjean clash during qualifying. Autosport.com has the story.

    Pedro de la Rosa said he was baffled by his incident with Romain Grosjean during qualifying for the Brazilian Grand Prix.

    The Lotus driver ran into the back of the HRT as he tried to pass him on the left on the main straight. Grosjean lost his front wing as a result and was knocked out of the session with the 18th quickest time.

    De la Rosa’s car was damaged in the accident and the Spaniard qualified last. The stewards said the clash would be investigated after qualifying.

    The HRT driver said he did not understand what Grosjean was doing.

    “After the incident qualifying was over for me, the car was completely bent,” de la Rosa told Spanish television. “It’s just one of those things you don’t understand.

    “He could have overtaken me under braking for the first corner. There was no room there. He bent my car, he punctured my tyre and it also affected the DRS, so it was pretty tough qualifying.”

    De la Rosa felt the incident denied him a shot at challenging the Marussias.

    “We’ll see if it rains or not, but the car is working pretty well and it’s a shame we qualified so badly because we were expecting to fight with the Marussias,” he said after ending up last on the grid.

    “It wasn’t possible, but that’s OK, the race is tomorrow.”

  3. As for Romain Grosjean, the Lotus driver has blames Pedro de la Rosa for the clash. Autosport.com has the news story.

    Romain Grosjean felt Pedro de la Rosa was at fault in their collision in Q1 at Interlagos.

    The Lotus was trying to slip inside the HRT on the run onto the pits straight when they clashed, squeezing Grosjean into the pit entry barrier and damaging his front wing.

    De la Rosa continued with damage to his HRT, but was left last on the grid, while Grosjean could only manage 18th so was eliminated.

    “I was behind Pedro for the whole lap,” said Grosjean.

    “I was going to overtake him in a straight line and I don’t think he saw me and pushed me into the barriers. I braked as much as I could, but we had contact.”

    Grosjean had been fifth in final practice and was sure he was set to qualify well had the incident not occurred.

    “It’s a disaster,” he said. “We had a very good car. I don’t know what to say.

    “Let’s see tomorrow, the weather may be strange.”

    De la Rosa was adamant Grosjean was to blame, saying he could not understand what the Frenchman was doing.

  4. After taking his seventh pole position of the season, Lewis Hamilton is expecting a rain lottery come the race. Autosport.com has the details.

    Lewis Hamilton is predicting the Brazilian Grand Prix will be somewhat of a lottery because of the rain that is expected to hit Interlagos.

    The British driver secured his seventh pole position of the season on Saturday, leading team-mate Jenson Button to an all-McLaren front row.

    Although Hamilton acknowledged they were in the best possible situation to win on Sunday, he is aware that the race will be very difficult if it rains.

    “I think the weather is going to be tricky tomorrow so will definitely make it more of a lottery,” said Hamilton.

    “We have put ourselves in a really good position and we will do best job we can as a team. It’s the best we have been for quite some time, so we will do everything we can to get a top result.”

    Hamilton, in his last race with McLaren before moving to Mercedes, was thankful to his team for its performance in the latter part of the season.

    “It has been a good weekend so far. I am grateful to be able to put the car on the front row and have my last one-two in qualifying with Jenson in the same team,” said Hamilton, who won the United States Grand Prix last weekend.

    “A fantastic job by the team. I’m so grateful for the all the opportunities they have given me and I hope to turn it into a positive tomorrow.”

    Hamilton suggested his team had not taken the gamble of going for a wet-weather set-up despite the chance of rain for Sunday.

    “We have just set the car up to attack for qualifying,” he said. “We don’t know what the hell is going to happen tomorrow. We have to make sure we get our tyre temperatures right, and try and steer clear of any big puddles.”

  5. Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso is not surprised by eighth place on the grid. Autosport.com has the story.

    Fernando Alonso described his eighth place on the Brazilian Grand Prix grid as “no surprise” and is still confident he can finish on the podium.

    The Ferrari driver needs to outscore Formula 1 world championship rival Sebastian Vettel by 14 points in Sunday’s race to snatch the title, but the Red Bull qualified four places ahead.

    Alonso was undaunted by this and declared himself content with his qualifying laps.

    “It’s not a surprise because we started seventh in Abu Dhabi, ninth in the USA, and eighth here. So it’s more or less as expected,” said Alonso.

    “We’ll try to repeat our performance on Sunday and reach the podium like Abu Dhabi and Austin.

    “We need some strange circumstances, we need a chaotic race in a way, rain or something, let’s hope we see something like that.”

    He also denied that Ferrari had gone for a fully wet set-up in qualifying in anticipation of Sunday rain.

    “We ran with maximum downforce in the dry so obviously it is the same in the wet, so no big changes,” Alonso insisted.

    “I don’t think anyone gambled today for a wet set-up because there is minimal changes.”

  6. After qualifying in third position, Mark Webber will focus on his race rather than helping his Red Bull team-mate Sebastian Vettel to the title. Autosport.com has the details.

    Mark Webber insists he will focus on his own race in the Brazilian Grand Prix without thinking of how he can help championship-leading team-mate Sebastian Vettel.

    The Australian outqualified the German and they will start from third and fourth places respectively. Vettel’s championship rival Fernando Alonso qualified down in eighth position.

    Webber believes the best he can do in the race is to focus on trying to get the best possible result.

    Alonso needs to outscore Vettel by 14 points to be champion, meaning he has to finish at least third.

    “I think we focus on ourselves tomorrow and do the cleanest race I can. We know there is some tricky weather today,” said Webber.

    “I will be focusing entirely on my own cockpit.”

    Webber admitted it will be vital to react properly to the circumstances if the rain hits Interlagos as expected.

    “We know Interlagos can be very hit and miss. A little shower can generate from everywhere and surprise you. We could run all three types of tyres – wet, slicks and inters.

    “We need to keep our eyes open tomorrow. That is what can happen. Whatever it is, it will be a good final grand prix of the year and I am looking forward to a good result.”

  7. Felipe Massa described his fifth place in Brazilian Grand Prix qualifying as being as satisfying as a pole position, feeling he produced a “perfect” performance.

    The Ferrari driver qualified fifth, three places ahead of team-mate Fernando Alonso.

    “It was a great lap, a great performance,” said Massa.

    “I think it was a perfect qualifying today. I think I’m driving in the direction I want and I think when you are like that you can be very competitive.

    “Looking at the pace of the Red Bulls and McLarens, I don’t think anything better was possible today. I’m happy with the car and I’m happy with how I put the lap together.”

    He added: “Even if I’m not starting from pole position, I think it’s like a pole position because I did such a fantastic lap and I hope I can do a similar job tomorrow in front of my people.”

    Last weekend at Austin, Massa was given a deliberate gearbox change penalty to benefit Alonso. Asked if this might happen again at Interlagos, Massa joked: “If this happens I will race with the gearbox broken…”

    Massa is starting one place behind Alonso’s championship rival Sebastian Vettel.

    While underlining that he would not be trying anything unfair, he said Vettel had cause to feel anxious going into the race.

    “This is the final. The final is always like that,” Massa said.

    “You always try everything you can, but you need to be very cautious as well because the other cars have nothing to lose. You always try to fight for the position like it is a normal race.”

    Source: Autosport.com

  8. Mercedes driver Michael Schumacher has admitted that setting up the car for wet conditions proved to be the wrong decision. Autosport.com has the details.

    Michael Schumacher believes his Mercedes team compromised his car set-up too much for Brazilian Grand Prix qualifying in the hope that it rains on Sunday.

    The German, in his final race before retiring from Formula 1, qualified down in 14th position with a car set-up aimed at taking full benefit of race day’s predicted rain.

    With qualifying being mostly dry, however, Schumacher struggled for pace and was knocked out in Q2.

    “For obvious reasons, I am not particularly happy about the qualifying session today,” said Schumacher. “We might have compromised the car too much for the rain which is expected for tomorrow and was also forecast for qualifying.

    “When the drops came down just before, it looked even more likely. Anyway, my starting position is now quite tricky, and I will have to see what we can make out of it tomorrow.

    “Of course, coming from where I am does not make it easy, but I will definitely try to fight my way up the field.”

    Team-mate Nico Rosberg also had a wet-weather set-up, but managed to qualify in 10th position and reckons he can have a stronger performance on Sunday.

    “To progress into Q3 and the top 10 in qualifying today was a reasonable achievement for us,” he said. “Our car set-up was a little compromised due to the race conditions expected tomorrow so we should be in better shape then.

    “You can’t change anything after qualifying so I hope we are well prepared and that we have chance to score some good points tomorrow.”

  9. Pastor Maldonado will be moved 10 places down the Brazilian Grand Prix grid after incurring a reprimand for missing the weighbridge in the second part of qualifying.

    Because the reprimand for the incident was Maldonado’s third of the year, he was given a grid demotion on this occasion.

    The Williams driver had qualified sixth prior to the punishment, so will drop to 16th.

    Maldonado’s demotion has an impact on the Formula 1 title battle as it will elevate championship contender Fernando Alonso from eighth to seventh on the grid.

    Maldonado’s previous warnings were for blocking Heikki Kovalainen in Chinese GP qualifying and colliding with Sergio Perez in the British GP.

    He was also given grid demotions for driving incidents in Monaco, where he tangled with Perez in practice, Belgium, where he was adjudged to have blocked Nico Hulkenberg in qualifying, and Italy, where he was given a 10-place penalty for jumping the start and then hitting Timo Glock at Spa.

    Source: Autosport.com

  10. McLaren’s Jenson Button is looking forward to fighting for the race win in Interlagos. Autosport.com has the story.

    Jenson Button declared that he is relishing the chance to have a final head-to-head battle with Lewis Hamilton as McLaren team-mates after they secured the front row for the Brazilian Grand Prix.

    The British duo have often gone wheel-to-wheel on track during their three seasons paired at McLaren.

    Hamilton beat Button to pole by just 0.055 seconds at Interlagos, and Button said he had no intention of making life easy for his team-mate.

    “I want to win this race because he’s leaving!” Button joked when asked if Hamilton’s departure made any difference to how they would race on Sunday.

    “Both of us want to win. Neither of us are fighting for the championship, so we’re both going to fight for the win.

    “I’m looking forward to it. We both qualified pretty well here – it’s the best qualifying we’ve both had here at Interlagos and it’s a fun circuit to race on.

    “We’re going for a win. That’s what we’re here to do. It’s obviously an important weekend for Lewis, leaving the team, but we’ve come here to win.”

    McLaren still has a shot at beating Ferrari to second in the constructors’ championship. The British team trails its Italian rival by 14 points, but Ferrari drivers Felipe Massa and Fernando Alonso were only fifth and eighth in qualifying.

    Button admitted that McLaren could not count on turning its qualifying dominance into a one-two with rain forecast for Sunday, though.

    “It’s good for the team for us to be on the front row and it’s so close. Trouble is when you are on front row you hope for a dry race and a nice calm race so you can get some good points,” he said.

    “We both want to win tomorrow so it’s important for us to do well in terms of the constructors’ championship.

    “But it’s going to rain. And it’s going to be a tricky one.

    “I think we’re looking forward to it. There are two more people who are under more pressure than us two. It’ll be a fun race for us hopefully.”

  11. Despite qualifying in fourth position Sebastian Vettel is not worried about his grid slot come race day. Autosport.com has the details.

    Sebastian Vettel says starting from fourth position is no disaster ahead of the championship-deciding Brazilian Grand Prix.

    The Red Bull driver was beaten by the McLarens of Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button and by his own team-mate Mark Webber.

    The German, who is 13 points ahead of Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso, reckons he can still have a strong race from the second row of the grid.

    “We finished fourth today, which maybe is not the best position we could have got, but we can be quite happy and starting fourth is not a disaster,” said Vettel, who starts three places ahead of Alonso.

    “There are more people behind us than in front. I’m happy with fourth and there are plenty of opportunities for tomorrow.

    “The second lap I was pretty happy, but unfortunately I wasn’t quick enough. I was probably a bit shy here and there and dropped a bit of time. Mark had a good run in Q3 and on top of that the McLarens have been very quick all weekend, so it’s something we expected going into qualifying.”

    Alonso’s team-mate Felipe Massa will start right behind Vettel, but the world champion said he had no worries about what the Brazilian could do.

    “I’m not worried,” he said. “We have mirrors in the car but hopefully we won’t have to use them. As soon as the lights go off we will try to attack the guys in front.

    “On top of that there might be some things happening tomorrow, different to what the weekend has been so far, with the weather forecast being at is. I’m not looking left and right, to be honest.”

    Vettel admitted he had not extracted the maximum from his car after a mistake on his first flying lap, but denied suggestions that his error had come of the pressure he is under.

    “To be honest, I made a mistake in the first run of Q3, but not because this is the last race or whatever. I was pushing and that’s what I try to do all the time. I made a mistake and lost the momentum.

    “I knew that I had one run left and it was quite important. It wasn’t the lap of my life, but if you haven’t got a lap in that’s what you do.”

  12. Romain Grosjean and Pedro de la Rosa have escaped any sanction for their coming together during qualifying for the Brazilian Grand Prix.

    De la Rosa moved across on Grosjean on the run up to the start-finish straight after his Lotus rival attempted to dive down the inside of the slower HRT near the entry to the pits.

    The incident damaged Grosjean’s front wing and culminated in him failing to make it out of Q1.

    The stewards called both drivers to see them after qualifying to see if either had been at fault, but in the end decided that it was simply a misunderstanding.

    A statement issued by the stewards said: “The driver of car 22 (de la Rosa) felt that he was following his normal line, was aware that car 10 was behind him and was aware of the speed delta.

    “The driver of car 10 believed he had been seen by the driver of car 22 and that car 22 was moving aside to the right to allow him through.

    “Accordingly the stewards consider this a driving incident due to the nature of the track but have advised the drivers, and the drivers agree, that this could have resulted in a very serious outcome.”

    Source: Autosport.com

  13. Williams driver Pastor Maldonado has admitted that the light turned red too late. Missing out on the weighbridge during qualifying has resulted in an 10-place grid penalty. Autosport.com has the details.

    Pastor Maldonado has blamed his failure to stop at the weighbridge during Q2, which earned him a reprimand and triggered an automatic 10-place grid penalty, on the signal light turning red too late.

    Drivers can be called to the weighbridge at any time when they enter the pits during qualifying, with a light on the pit-wall going red to indicated that they must stop.

    But Maldonado did not see the light, leading to the reprimand for failing “to proceed directly tot he FIA garage when signalled to do so.”

    “It’s 50/50,” said Maldonado when asked by AUTOSPORT about the incident. “The light came on quite late.

    “It was the first time that we run the 100km/h in the pitlane and when you are at 100km/h and the light is just 20 metres ahead of you, it’s too late.

    “Maybe the light was completely red when I crossed it but at the same time, the entry of the pitlane is very narrow, you are very low in the car and there is a hill.

    “When the hill finishes, there is the light, so it is a difficult situation.”

    Despite lining up 16th after ending qualifying sixth, Maldonado is confident of being able to fight for points, particularly in wet conditions.

    “The car is good, we are not very far away [in terms of pace],” he said.

    “I’m very confident for tomorrow. Maybe it will be better than today, so we will see.

    “I’ve been quite quick even at the start of qualifying when it was wet, I was immediately at the top so I am quite confident we can be strong.”

  14. Lotus driver Kimi Raikkonen says engine issues cost him qualifying pace. Autosport.com has the story.

    Kimi Raikkonen reckons his Brazilian Grand Prix qualifying would have been much more competitive had he not lost significant practice mileage to engine problems.

    The Lotus driver sat out much of Friday morning with issues on his Renault engine, and then had the V8 fail at the start of final practice.

    He was able to fit a spare for the race without exceeding his allowance of eight engines for the season. The replacement engine is the one that he won in Abu Dhabi with.

    But Raikkonen said that lack of mileage had a major impact on his set-up for qualifying, where he took ninth place. Pastor Maldonado’s penalty will elevate him one position.

    “We didn’t get a single lap this morning and yesterday we didn’t really get anything done, so the car was pretty bad,” Raikkonen replied when asked by AUTOSPORT how the practice problems had affected his qualifying form.

    “We just had to change it a lot since yesterday and it was purely guessing for qualifying because we hadn’t done many laps.

    “In that way, it was fine, but with some running this morning we could have done some proper set-up work.”

    Raikkonen said Lotus was not among the teams to gamble on a wet set-up for the race.

    “No, we just did something that we hope works because we had no running,” he said.

    “The car wasn’t very good. At least we got something out of qualifying.”

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