Hamilton on pole with title rivals off the front row

2012 Brazilian Grand Prix qualifying

Mark Webber, Lewis Hamilton, Jenson Button, Interlagos, 2012Lewis Hamilton heads a McLaren lock-out of the front row on the grid for the Brazilian Grand Prix as he prepares to start his final race for the team.

The championship contenders start outside of the top three places with Sebastian Vettel fourth and Fernando Alonso eighth at the end of Q3.


A rain shower fell at the track ahead of qualifying but stopped before Q1 started. Caterham, Marussia and HRT sent their drivers out immediately and Timo Glock caught Heikki Kovalainen during his first flying lap, leading to a bit of position-swapping between the two.

The front-runners hedged their bets, waiting until the track had dried more before leaving the pits. When they did Hamilton quickly moved to the top of the times and stayed there, but Bruno Senna’s Williams separated the two McLarens at the top of the times.

Vettel cut it fine and was still in 21st place with four minutes to go before getting into the top ten.

Romain Grosjean’s session was ruined when he tried to overtake Pedro de la Rosa on the inside heading towards the start/finish line. The HRT driver appeared not to have seen the Lotus appearing on the left and the pair made contact.

Grosjean suffered damage to his front wing and after crawling back to the pits had one lap left to move up from 19th and gain a place in Q2. He failed to do so, and was eliminated along with the six drivers who had started the session immediately.

Drivers eliminated in Q1

18 Romain Grosjean Lotus-Renault 1’16.967
19 Vitaly Petrov Caterham-Renault 1’17.073
20 Heikki Kovalainen Caterham-Renault 1’17.086
21 Timo Glock Marussia-Cosworth 1’17.508
22 Charles Pic Marussia-Cosworth 1’18.104
23 Narain Karthikeyan HRT-Cosworth 1’19.576
24 Pedro de la Rosa HRT-Cosworth 1’19.699


Conditions remained stable as Q2 began. All the drivers took to the track straight away except for the McLaren and Red Bull pairs, who sat tight until there was five minutes remaining.

Fernando Alonso led the times initially but Hamilton, using medium compound tyres, beat it comfortably with a 1’13.398.

Vettel found almost two-tenths of a second to beat Hamilton with a 1’13.209 but he was aided, ironically enough, by Felipe Massa, whose Ferrari inadvertently gave him a tow heading towards the start/finish line.

The two Ferrari drivers only just made it into Q3, ending the session in ninth and tenth. But Michael Schumacher couldn’t make it into the top ten with his last effort, saying he made a small mistake at turn one, and qualified 14th for his final Grand Prix.

Pastor Maldonado made it into the top ten but was observed to have driven past a red light indicating he should pull into the weigh bridge during the session.

Drivers eliminated in Q2

11 Paul di Resta Force India-Mercedes 1’14.121
12 Bruno Senna Williams-Renault 1’14.219
13 Sergio Perez Sauber-Ferrari 1’14.234
14 Michael Schumacher Mercedes 1’14.334
15 Kamui Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari 1’14.380
16 Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1’14.574
17 Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1’14.619


Nico Rosberg was the first driver out on track during Q3. He kicked off the final ten minutes with a steady lap, and although he later improved he ended up in tenth.

The battle for pole position was contested by McLaren and Red Bull but it was Mark Webber, not Sebastian Vettel, who got closest to the silver cars. He took provisional pole position with his final run, producing a lap of 1’12.581.

Both the McLaren drivers beat that with their last efforts, though there wasn’t much in it. Hamilton’s last run was a tenth of a second faster than Webber’s, and Button split the pair of them.

Vettel locked a wheel at turn four on his first lap, which left him behind Alonso initially. But his second run was better, and lifted him to fourth place.

Behind him came one of the Ferraris, but for the second race in a row it was Massa, not Alonso, who produced the quickest time. Alonso could only manage eighth, Maldonado and Hulkenberg separating him from his team mate, with Raikkonen ninth.

With Massa provisionally ahead of Alonso on the grid questions inevitably followed whether Ferrari would choose to incur a gearbox penalty on his car. Team principal Stefano Domenicali told Sky immediately after qualifying they would not.

Top ten in Q3

1 Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1’12.458
2 Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1’12.513
3 Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault 1’12.581
4 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault 1’12.760
5 Felipe Massa Ferrari 1’12.987
6 Pastor Maldonado Williams-Renault 1’13.174
7 Nico Hulkenberg Force India-Mercedes 1’13.206
8 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1’13.253
9 Kimi Raikkonen Lotus-Renault 1’13.298
10 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1’13.489

2012 Brazilian Grand Prix

Browse all 2012 Brazilian Grand Prix articles

Image ?é?® Red Bull/Getty images

Advert | Go Ad-free


113 comments on Hamilton on pole with title rivals off the front row

  1. carbon_fibre (@carbon_fibre) said on 24th November 2012, 17:25

    I really really really hope Alonso is carrying a wet race setup.

  2. MONEYR (@moneyr) said on 24th November 2012, 17:28

    For me Lewis is the WDC of 2012.

  3. Fer no.65 (@fer-no65) said on 24th November 2012, 17:36

    Good guy Massa… gives Vettel the tow, then outqualifies Alonso.

  4. Ben (@benchuiii) said on 24th November 2012, 17:44

    Can’t wait for the race. So many questions heading into tomorrow. What will the weather be like? Will Hamilton’s car break down again? Can Massa get in front of the Red Bulls? Will Alonso rediscover his form? Who will ultimately come out on top?

    Hope we are in for a dramatic conclusion to 2012 and may the best man win.

  5. Eggry (@eggry) said on 24th November 2012, 17:50

    I think there has been the trend that when Massa excels, Alonso doesn’t do well in qualifying for last several races. I don’t know what has been changed since Asian season but this things happened. Anyway there’s still chance for him but it seems pretty slim now. He need Malaysian scenario but it would be quite hard to repeat. not just Alonso should take top 3 but also Vettel should ruin his race.

    As for Mclaren, I thought Button is the man for the pole since temp drop today but Hamilton made it again. Pole to win and 1-2 would be great good bye for the team. to Alonso win the title, he should lose it though.

    • George (@george) said on 24th November 2012, 17:59

      Yeah, could be a double blow for Ferrari tomorrow if McLaren get a 1-2

    • Button has one pole for mclaren. When has he ever been the man for pole? He may get a couple next year.

      Both vet and Alo choked, simply. Vettel most obviously with his off. Maybe vettel chokes more tomorrow. But probably Luca Will be ordering a new Tv again Monday.

    • I think there has been the trend that when Massa excels, Alonso doesn’t do well in qualifying for last several races. I don’t know what has been changed since Asian season but this things happened.

      I have the same impression. Or the inverse impression, if I can say it. It seems to me that something happened, as the moment when Massa started improving his game coincided whit the moment when Alonso’s performance started suffering. I have no idea if this happened because of the way the car developed, or the internal balance in the team (the one that is invisible to us). One can say that Alonso has been more cautious trying to add points instead of going all out. I don’t believe it, as it was evident since Vettel had two and then three wins in a row that Alonso’s attitude would not be enough. In any case, for the first time Alonso (to me, the most complete driver on the grid, even if I can’t stand his persona) MAY BE feeling the pressure. Maybe. In any case, it must be a very difficult time for Ferrari.
      I hope we have a good race tomorrow.

  6. raymondu999 (@raymondu999) said on 24th November 2012, 17:59

    In any case – I hope the race doesn’t have climate changes. If it is to be wet – let it stay wet. If it’s to be dry – let it stay dry. I want the race to be fully between wets and inters, or fully on the dries.

  7. It must be a bit deflating when Mark Webber does a banger of a lap and the only thing they ask him in the press conference is “Will you help Sebastian tomorrow”?

    • I hate that interviewer…
      They never give Webber a break. It’s always “So, about Vettel…” and never “Well done on a good lap; what went well for you?”

      I remember Webber got Pole once (or was it a win)… Skipped Mark and went straight to asking Vettel questions, and Mark was like ” I AM in the middle for a reason.”

      • glad he is ahead of vettel

      • David-A (@david-a) said on 24th November 2012, 19:18

        They did the same thing to Massa at Monza. Maybe it’s because Webber and Massa aren’t in the title race?

        • brny666 said on 25th November 2012, 0:00

          Yes but common courtesy would dictate that they ask the person on how their day was. I’m admittedly not the biggest Webber fan but when I saw that I wished he just gave the interviewer a **** you. He out qualified Vettel today and deserves the credit for it.

          • David-A (@david-a) said on 25th November 2012, 1:01

            Indeed. The interviewers should probably concentrate on what happened, and give credit where credit is due.

    • I hope he does not have the curse of Kers

    • HoHum (@hohum) said on 24th November 2012, 20:06

      Who stole his hat?

  8. Pressure has definetly affected both Vettel and Alonso’s qualifying I think. Their teammates were clealy ahead (although they have much less to lose)! Vettel just needs to have an added element of caution but not so much that he loses focus. Alonso will be pushing incredibly hard as he needs a podium to win the championship and to do that he needs to gain 5 positions at least.
    Wet weather may aid him though…

    • HoHum (@hohum) said on 24th November 2012, 19:28

      @vettel1, cheer up Max, I wouldn’t be surprised if Sebs set-up is just a little compromised in case it rains, after all he only needs to finish close to Alonso to take the title. I expected Mark to be fast, the team will send him out as the hare to put pressure on Alonso, and prevent him from winning, but it looks like the McLarens are going to help out there so all should be fine just as long as Vettel keeps out of trouble.

  9. Francorchamps (@francorchamps17) said on 24th November 2012, 18:02

    Am i the only one thinking there are some dangerous parts on the Interlagos track?
    Here are two things that seems really strange to me:

    • John H (@john-h) said on 24th November 2012, 18:16

      One thing to mention is that there are massive gradient changes in those areas, and so the barriers or lack of may have a function that isn’t visible on the aerial shots you link to. Could be wrong though.

      To me the pit lane is the most dangerous part of the track, and to be honest, I hope they don’t change the last sector (like I believe they were going to do?)

    • I honestly don’t think those areas are particularly dangerous. To me the worst part is the wall on the right side of the track at the entrance of the main straight. Because of a stand that exists there, the wall approaches the track at a very dangerous angle. If a car crash on that wall in that point, it bounces back to the track, where other cars are coming flat. In 2003, Webber hit the wall in that point, and bounced to track when Alonso was entering the straight. Alonso ended in a hospital. In the same point a Turismo driver, Gustavo Sodermann, died two years ago.
      The other point, clearly, is the pit entrance: the cars take the left side of the track at full speed and if there is a slower car entering the pits there will be trouble.

    • beneboy (@beneboy) said on 24th November 2012, 20:49


      Am i the only one thinking there are some dangerous parts on the Interlagos track?

      There are dangerous parts on all of the tracks, they’re called corners ;-)

      Motorsport is dangerous, it says so on the ticket, that’s part of the attraction and, in my opinion at least, it’s not the tracks that are dangerous, it’s the cars (more specifically the cornering speeds that are possible due to the amount of downforce on modern F1 cars) that is the most dangerous thing of all and that it’s time we started making significant changes to the cars instead of destroying the layout and characteristics of amazing circuits such as Interlagos.

  10. Yusha (@freebird78) said on 24th November 2012, 18:04

    Is the writing on the wall for Alonso?

  11. Hotbottoms (@hotbottoms) said on 24th November 2012, 18:06

    I don’t think Massa’s penalty would benefit Ferrari this time. Even though Alonso is on the dirty side of the track, it isn’t the same kind of issue here than it was in Austin. Also, Massa is directly behind Vettel and thus he could be able to “destroy” Vettel’s race, or atleast be a nuisance.

    • John H (@john-h) said on 24th November 2012, 18:19

      Indeed. Ferrari would be mad to put him back. They’ll be focussing on getting Massa to take Vettel into turn 1, a distinct possiblity from the cleaner side (if dry race) seen as the track has will have had a few more rain washings than on a dry weekend.

      • Cosmas (@cosmas) said on 24th November 2012, 18:51

        The bad think for Alonso is not the dirty side, its the inside line where his grid position is. Its difficult to gain places from the inside line at the start . In Austin he gained places not only because he was on the clean side but also because he choose the outside line to overtake. This is impossible here (due to his grid position) also because the start is too close to the first corner.If he choose the inside line (which is the more logical) then he must be very careful if he tries to overtake so he’s not get closed-hit from the guy outside in front.

  12. Aldoid said on 24th November 2012, 18:12

    I expected Hamilton to take it, but great job from Jenson to get so close. Alonso looked more like he was in a wrestling match than an F1 race: of the top teams, Ferrari has definitely been behind in the development race for the last few seasons. They’ve just not brought enough (working) improvements to their cars. Felipe is driving brilliantly at the moment though. I think he has a better chance of getting past Vettel on the start & giving him a bit of grief, rather than the team sacrificing him, hoping Alonso catches up. That’s probably the only reason why Ferrari aren’t making him take another one for the team. Nice to see Webber outpace Vettel as well… Vettel does crack when he’s under a lot of pressure sometimes… makes quite a few mistakes when he’s forced to push hard, it seems. No doubt we’ll hear a bit of moaning on the radio if Massa manages to pip him going into turn one: Felipe is usually quick here, & he’s difficult to pass on most days. That said, if it does rain tomorrow it’ll be a tricky scenario for everyone.

  13. So Hamtilto 17, Button 3
    In three years, hamilton wins 44 to 14
    Notice that when button beats hamitlon in qualifying its due to car failure (like this year in japan), rain (germany) or set-up gambles (belgium 2012 or monza 2010 ). Jenson is very strong in china he beated lewis there in 2011 an 2010 but apart from that in qualifying he has been overshadowed by hamilton.

  14. I don’t think there is any chance for Alonso…Allthings are against Alonso. Even if it rains it does make much difference. Seb is one of the fastest guys in rain.

  15. I don’t think there is any chance for Alonso…All things are against Alonso. Even if it rains it does not make much difference. Seb is one of the fastest guys in rain.

Add your comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

All comments must abide by the comment policy. Comments may be moderated.
Want to post off-topic? Head to the forum.
See the FAQ for more information.