Sebastian Vettel took the record for most pole positions in a season with his 15th top spot in Brazil, beating fellow Red Bull driver Mark Webber by over a tenth-of-a-second, in a session overshadowed by a rainstorm that never came. The RB7 was the class of the field, easily beating the McLarens at a track they dominated at 12 months ago.
Jenson Button finished ahead of Lewis Hamilton in the British inter-team battle, while Fernando Alonso closed out the top 5. Home heroes Felipe Massa, Bruno Senna and Rubens Barrichello gave the crowd some cheer with 7th, 9th and 12th respectively, the latter being a a quite spectacular effort for Rubens to be within a few tenths of Q3 – great job!
Here’s how the qualifying unfolded…
With thunderclouds overhead the first session got underway, the track was busy from the off as the entire field banked laps in case of rain. When the dust had settled, Pastor Maldonado picked up the wooden spoon by finishing in 18th place with the usual suspects of Team Lotus, HRT and Virgin.
18. Pastor Maldonado – 1:14.625
19. Heikki Kovalainen – 1:15.068
20. Jarno Trulli – 1:15.358
21. Tonio Luizzi – 1:16.631
22. Daniel Riccardio – 1:16.890
23. Jerome D’Ambrosio – 1:17.019
24. Timo Glock – 1:17.060
The continuous threat of rain meant there was plenty of action from the green light. As the session developed, it was a scrap between the Force Indias, Toro Rossos, Bruno Senna and Michael Schumacher for who would or wouldn’t be in the top ten shootout. Ultimately, Michael just did enough to scrape in at the cost of young Paul Di Resta, while Rubens Barrichello’s potentially last starting position will be from a heroic 12th on the grid.
11. Paul Di Resta – 1:13.584
12. Rubens Barrichello – 1:13.801
13. Jaime Alguersuari – 1:13.804
14. Sebastian Buemi – 1:13.919
15. Vitaly Petrov – 1:14.053
16. Kamui Kobayashi – 1:14.129
17. Sergio Perez – 1:14.182
With the race for pole position not threatened by the rain, it was the reigning champ who set the marker for everyone else to beat. No matter how they tried, the McLaren’s of Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton couldn’t get close, and even Red Bull team-mate Mark Webber failed to get in front. The best was yet to come, as Vettel went under the 1.12 barrier by a tenth of a second to nap pole from Webber. Button came out on top in the McLaren battle, while Alonso was top Ferrari in 5th. The rest of the top ten read Rosberg, Massa, home hero Bruno Senna and Michael Schumacher, who failed to set a time thank to saving tyres.
1. Sebastian Vettel – 1:11.918
2. Mark Webber – 1:12.099
3. Jenson Button – 1:12.283
4. Lewis Hamilton – 1:12.480
5. Fernando Alonso – 1:12.591
6. Nico Rosberg – 1:13.050
7. Felipe Massa – 1:13.068
8. Adrian Sutil – 1:13.298
9. Bruno Senna – 1:13.761
10. Michael Schumacher – No time