Sebastian Vettel has triumphed in sodden conditions to claim pole position for the Brazilian Grand Prix in a disrupted qualifying session at Interlagos.
The Red Bull Racing driver posted a 1:25.479 in a delayed final qualifying session, finishing a whopping six-tenths of a second clear of the rest of the field. Nico Rosberg and Fernando Alonso completed the top-three.
A heavy downpour between Q2 and Q3 forced race control to issue a succession of ten-minute delays to the start of the final shootout for pole. Finally, the go-ahead was given for the pit lane to open almost an hour later, with the final ten runners switching to Pirelli’s full wet tyres, having navigated the preceding two sessions on the Intermediate rubber.
Vettel led the way at the end of the first sequence of runs, but the track moisture improved so quickly that a switch back to the Intermediates was required.
Cue a frantic period of activity before the final runs, and once again it was Vettel who hooked up his final lap to perfection, destroying the opposition with a stunning effort.
Behind the top-three, Mark Webber will start the last Grand Prix of his Formula 1 career from fourth place, with Lewis Hamilton perhaps exceeding his own expectations to qualify fifth ahead of Romain Grosjean
The Toro Rossos of Daniel Ricciardo and Jean-Éric Vergne continued to showcase the great pace in their Toro Rossos with a double top-ten effort in seventh and eighth respectively.
Crowd favourite Felipe Massa was ninth-quickest in his last outing as a Ferrari driver, while Nico Hülkenberg once again made the top-ten shootout, although wound up slowest.
Despite some solid pace in the earlier practice sessions and a top-five performance in Q1, Lotus stand-in Heikki Kovalainen just missed out on a Q3 berth, qualifying eleventh-quickest ahead of Paul di Resta and Valtteri Bottas.
For the first time, neither Sergio Pérez nor Jenson Button made it beyond Q2, with the former succeeding in crashing his car at Turn 5 at the end of the session.
Pérez managed to outqualify Button once again to finish 10-9 ahead in that intra-team battle, but that’s hardly an emphatic statistic given Button’s poor reputation as a one-lap specialist.
Adrian Sutil scraped his off-the-pace Force India into Q2 but went no further, although he managed better than serial Q1 victims, outgoing Williams driver Pastor Maldonado and Sauber’s Esteban Gutiérrez.
The continued precipitation didn’t give the two smallest teams, Caterham and Marussia, an opportunity to get off the back two rows of the grid. Charles Pic claimed qualifying honours among the quartet to outpace teammate Giedo van der Garde, while the Marussia pairing of Jules Bianchi and Max Chilton will start from the back row.
2013 Brazilian Formula 1 Grand Prix – Qualifying Session Times:
|1.||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull Racing Renault RB9||1:26.479|
|2.||Nico Rosberg||Mercedes AMG Petronas F1W04||1:27.102||+ 0.623|
|3.||Fernando Alonso||Scuderia Ferrari F138||1:27.539||+ 1.060|
|4.||Mark Webber||Red Bull Racing Renault RB9||1:27.572||+ 1.093|
|5.||Lewis Hamilton||Mercedes AMG Petronas F1W04||1:27.677||+ 1.198|
|6.||Romain Grosjean||Lotus F1 Renault E21||1:27.737||+ 1.258|
|7.||Jean-Éric Vergne||Scuderia Toro Rosso Ferrari STR8||1:28.052||+ 1.573|
|8.||Daniel Ricciardo||Scuderia Toro Rosso Ferrari STR8||1:28.081||+ 1.602|
|9.||Felipe Massa||Scuderia Ferrari F138||1:28.109||+ 1.630|
|10.||Nico Hülkenberg||Sauber Ferrari C32||1:29.582||+ 3.113|
|Q3 Cut-Off – 1:27.441||Time||Gap*|
|11.||Heikki Kovalainen||Lotus F1 Renault E21||1:27.456||+ 1.295|
|12.||Paul di Resta||Force India Mercedes VJM06||1:27.798||+ 1.637|
|13.||Valtteri Bottas||Williams Renault FW35||1:27.954||+ 1.793|
|14.||Sergio Pérez||McLaren Mercedes MP4-28||1:28.269||+ 2.108|
|15.||Jenson Button||McLaren Mercedes MP4-28||1:28.308||+ 2.147|
|16.||Adrian Sutil||Force India Mercedes VJM06||1:28.586||+ 2.425|
|Q2 Cut-Off – 1:27.209||Time||Gap**|
|17.||Pastor Maldonado||Williams Renault FW35||1:27.367||+ 2.025|
|18.||Esteban Gutiérrez||Sauber Ferrari C32||1:27.445||+ 2.103|
|19.||Charles Pic||Caterham Renault CT03||1:27.843||+ 2.501|
|20.||Giedo van der Garde||Caterham Renault CT03||1:28.320||+ 2.978|
|21.||Jules Bianchi||Marussia Racing Cosworth MR02||1:28.366||+ 3.024|
|22.||Max Chilton||Marussia Racing Cosworth MR02||1:28.950||+ 3.608|
* Gap to fastest Q2 time of 1:26.161 by Romain Grosjean
** Gap to fastest Q1 time of 1:25.342 by Lewis Hamilton