Sebastian Vettel has notched up another career record, this time by breaking a record few thought would have been beaten: Nigel Mansell’s 1992 record of fourteen pole positions in a single season. The newly-crowned champion shares the front row at São Paulo with Red Bull Racing team-mate Mark Webber.
While purists might record Mansell’s record of fourteen poles from sixteen races as the better effort, a fifteenth pole position for Vettel is still a phenomenal effort.
But many people’s eyes will be turning heavenwards, with quite a few drivers playing their qualifying strategy out in readiness for the rain that is forecast to hit the circuit for Sunday’s race.
At the front of the field, Vettel went quickest in Q2 and then rounded out a superb qualifying effort to claim top spot by two-tenths of a second from team-mate Webber who made it an all Red Bull front row.
The second row of the grid will be occupied by the two McLarens, with Webber’s final lap being enough to bump Jenson Button off the front row, with Lewis Hamilton in fourth. Nonetheless, it’s still a great result for the Button, who has traditionally not enjoyed good qualifying results at Interlagos.
Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso finished best of the rest in fifth, while Nico Rosberg was able to split the scarlet cars and bump hometown hero Felipe Massa back to seventh with his qualifying effort. Rosberg’s team-mate Michael Schumacher made it into Q3, but elected not to attempt a flying lap to give himself an extra set of tyres for tomorrow’s race.
Completing the top-ten was Adrian Sutil in the Force India, while an inspired Bruno Senna tried to stake his claim to remain with Renault by making it into Q3. They finished eighth- and ninth-quickest, respectively.
Their respective team-mates Paul di Resta and Vitaly Petrov were overshadowed, and they will start from eleventh and fifteenth. They sandwich an impressive Rubens Barrichello, who lines up ahead of the Toro Rossos of Jaime Alguersuari and Sébastien Buemi.
The two Saubers – who are only separated by one point against Toro Rosso in the battle for seventh place in the Constructors’ Championship – were slowest in Q2, managing only 16th and 17th places.
While Rubens Barrichello was left in raptures over his qualifying effort, Williams team-mate Pastor Maldonado was left on the wrong side of the Q1 cut-off; he will start from 18th place.
As usual the two Team Lotus cars occupy the tenth row of the grid, with its new rear wing not delivering the hoped-for performance improvements that would vault it into the top-18. Heikki Kovalainen was the better-placed ahead of team-mate Jarno Trulli, qualifying four-tenths slower than Maldonado.
It was all smiles in the HRT F1 camp, with the Spanish outfit managing to get both of its cars off the back row, with Vitantonio Liuzzi edging out Daniel Ricciardo.
The two Virgin Racing entries line up slowest, with Timo Glock four-hundredths of a second slower than Jérôme d’Ambrosio.
2011 Brazilian Grand Prix – Qualifying Session Times:
|1.||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull Racing Renault||1:13.664||1:12.446||1:11.918|
|2.||Mark Webber||Red Bull Racing Renault||1:13.467||1:12.658||1:12.099|
|3.||Jenson Button||McLaren Mercedes||1:13.281||1:12.820||1:12.283|
|4.||Lewis Hamilton||McLaren Mercedes||1:13.361||1:12.811||1:12.480|
|6.||Nico Rosberg||Mercedes GP||1:14.083||1:12.569||1:13.050|
|8.||Adrian Sutil||Force India Mercedes||1:13.480||1:13.261||1:13.298|
|10.||Michael Schumacher||Mercedes GP||1:13.694||1:13.571||no time|
|11.||Paul di Resta||Force India Mercedes||1:13.733||1:13.584|
|12.||Rubens Barrichello||Williams Cosworth||1:14.117||1:13.801|
|13.||Jaime Alguersuari||Toro Rosso Ferrari||1:14.225||1:13.804|
|14.||Sébastien Buemi||Toro Rosso Ferrari||1:14.500||1:13.919|
|16.||Kamui Kobayashi||Sauber Ferrari||1:14.571||1:14.129|
|17.||Sergio Pérez||Sauber Ferrari||1:14.430||1:14.182|
|18.||Pastor Maldonado||Williams Cosworth||1:14.625|
|19.||Heikki Kovalainen||Team Lotus Renault||1:15.068|
|20.||Jarno Trulli||Team Lotus Renault||1:15.358|
|21.||Vitantonio Liuzzi||HRT F1 Cosworth||1:16.631|
|22.||Daniel Ricciardo||HRT F1 Cosworth||1:16.890|
|23.||Jérôme d’Ambrosio||Virgin Racing Cosworth||1:17.019|
|24.||Timo Glock||Virgin Racing Cosworth||1:17.060|