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.

Q1

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

Q2

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

Q3

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

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

  1. A great pole lap from Hamilton yet only half-tenth faster than Button, don’t know where exactly Button lost the time. Last minute effort from Webber was paid off. Although Webber was saying that his focus is on his race tomorrow RBR will definitely be wanting him to help Vettel. Alonso was struggling in his car in comparison to Massa who was able to pull a couple of tenths out of his in the last few laps. Ferrari clearly denied that they have gone for any wet set-up. Really makes me wonder if it is Massa who’s improved his performance or is any of the new updates specific to Alonso’s car is making him work harder! The official F1 website predicts rain tomorrow, if that really happens then we are guaranteed for one of the epic races and championship battles in F1’s history!

  2. Christian Horner has to have broken the record for most interviews with the BBC at this stage. They always interview him at every GP!

    • I wonder if they might as well just do 1 interview with him and every time after just use that interview as ‘stock’ footage

    • HoHum (@hohum) said on 24th November 2012, 19:39

      @colm, Red Bull is not so much a drinks company as it is a marketing company, got to get that name and logo in front of as many people and as often as they can.

      • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 24th November 2012, 19:54

        @hohum I don’t understand why people complain about stuff like this. He’s the team principal of the outfit that’s just won the constructors’ championship for the third year in a row and his driver’s in the hunt for the drivers’ title as well. Of course BBC should be interviewing him. From what I’ve seen of their coverage they interview Marthin Whitmarsh and Stefano Domenicali often too.

    • alexx_88 (@alexx_88) said on 24th November 2012, 20:20

      What I don’t understand, and maybe people closer to BBC or Sky can shed some light on this: why is not Ferrari more present in their shows? I always see these big interviews with Martin Witmarsh or Christian Horner, no matter how good or bad their team has done in that event, but Ferrari didn’t appear much in the broadcasts until the closing stages of the season. I understand that they are based in Italy and RB and McLaren have lots of fans in the UK, but is that the only reason?

      • DaveF1 (@davef1) said on 24th November 2012, 21:40

        I can only speak for Sky but Martin Brundle has done some really neat features with the Ferrari team this season.

        However aside from that you are right that Ferrari not interviewed as often (and when they are it’s only ever Alonso) but I think its to do with the fact that they probably have something written down meaning that they do features with the Italian/Spanish media before the British.

        I guess its also easier for communication as, aside from Rob Smedley, most of the major Ferrari staff have English as a second language while in Red Bull and McLaren, more of the top staff have it as their first.

        • HoHum (@hohum) said on 24th November 2012, 22:52

          There is also a good chance that the Italian press get most of Ferraris time just by force of numbers.

        • infy (@infy) said on 25th November 2012, 2:23

          Martin has said some horrid things about Alonso on live air, especially during the time when Alonso was fighting Lewis (Martins homey :P)

          Since then, Alonso has pretty much blacklisted him. You can pickup on it during the gridwalks. Martin often hints at how Alonso will not speak to him.

  3. About that missed weight check. I’m very surprised that they decided to do that with not much left in Q2. Maldonado was going into the pits, he had to change tyres and then try to get into Q3. That’s exactly what he did, but if he stopped for the weight check he probably wouldn’t have had a lot of time to do his job (I don’t know how much it takes to complete this kind of check, though).

    It seems a bit unfair.

  4. Hamilton has matched Vettel’s pole positions this year and if he wins the race tomorrow he would be at par with Vettel on race wins. If you include Spain then he would have been on pole and front row more than any driver this season. It’s a real shame his points doesn’t reflect that. He definitely should have been fighting for the championship this year. Whitmarsh will be answering some tough questions from key stakeholders.

    • Cosmas (@cosmas) said on 24th November 2012, 19:08

      Hamilton has 7 pole positions (without that at Spain) VS 6 poles for Vettel.
      If we hypothetical had the alternative points system with the medals (which once proposed) then in the scenario of both with 5 wins, Vettel still would be champion with 3x2nd places VS 0 for Hamilton.

      • cosmas you are right it’s. Whichever points system you use, i think vettel will still be in the lead. Hamilton’s pole and wins just goes to show how much points Maclaren has thrown away due to failures and pitstop errors

        • also shows that the RB8 isn’t necessarily the quickest car and the only thing giving an advantage to Vettel. Vettel is a very fast driver and qualifier. In fact, considering the pace in the McLaren last Saturday in Austin, Hamilton and Webber’s exchange about the quickness of the Redbull and then the pace Hamilton had in the race, I’d say Vettel’s pole last week was definitely down to the driver, not the car.

  5. Mach1 (@mach1) said on 24th November 2012, 19:07

    Ooooh that was my best prediction to date!!! Hamilton for pole with 01:12.453 only 5 thousands out :(

    Great Qualifying, looking forward to tomorrow.

  6. Bosley (@bosley) said on 24th November 2012, 21:07

    It’d be good to see how the Mclarens perform tomorrow, since Lewis leads Jensen by only 10 points over their tally for their 3 year partnership.

  7. Jason (@jason12) said on 24th November 2012, 22:29

    Guess it’s fair to say the two have been neck and neck throughout the partnership :D

  8. Vettel2 said on 24th November 2012, 23:18

    So after all this big talk of Massa taking out Vettel in turn 1, sadly to say Vettel will just simply jump Webber at the start and maybe Jenson Button as well.

    • SafirXP (@) said on 25th November 2012, 2:03

      Likely but those Ferraris are like dragsters. I’d be surprised if Seb’s ahead of Felipe at turn one. Other than the McLarens, the Hulkster & Felipe hold the key to the race & WDC. When it comes to rain, Lewis & Seb are both up there with Schumi! Can’t wait, gonna be an awesome race! I went through a whole pack of smokes last race. Guess it’ll be two packs this race! :)

    • infy (@infy) said on 25th November 2012, 2:27

      If Massa does crash into Seb, he will undoubtedly be accused of doing it on purpose, even though his personality shows he would never do it.

      Personally I’d be more worried about Vettel crashing into Alonso. Vettel is very hard to read.

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