Hamilton Heads McLaren Front Row In Interlagos Qualifying

Freedom in his driving and speed in his car allowed Lewis Hamilton to be well-placed to give his team the perfect send-off in the final weekend of his time at McLaren. Jenson Button came within half a tenth of his team-mate to make it a record 62nd team front row in qualifying, no team now has more front row starts than the British squad. Mark Webber was the leading Red Bull in third, much to Sebastian Vettel’s displeasure as he look to end his quest to become a three-time world champion in fourth position on the grid.

McLaren have looked to be the pace setters in Sao Paulo this weekend, topping all sessions but for Q2, where Sebastian Vettel came ahead of the rest. Vettel showed signs of pressure as he wore a dark expression following his qualifying hour as he ended in fourth position on the grid, one place behind his team-mate Mark Webber who unseated Lewis Hamilton’s quickest time in the first minutes of Q3, only for the British McLaren duo to bounce back.

Fernando Alonso was again out-qualified by his team-mate Massa and at the worst possible time as he could only put his Ferrari into eighth but moves up a position due to PAstor Maldonado being penalised for missing his FIA weight-check during the session.

Hamilton thanked his team for what has so far been a quick weekend for the team, and hinted that he may have run with a dry weather setup so he could qualify highly.

“It has been a good weekend so far. I am grateful to be able to put the car on the front row and have my last one-two in qualifying with Jenson in the same team,” said Hamilton, who won the United States Grand Prix last weekend.

“A fantastic job by the team. I’m so grateful for the all the opportunities they have given me and I hope to turn it into a positive tomorrow.”

Button does not intend to give his countryman what would be an emotional race victory

Jenson Button starts behind Hamilton in the final race where the last two British world champions will be team-mates. Button said he was going for the win and not thinking of giving his team-mate a fairy-tale send off before his switch to Mercedes.

“It’s good for the team for us to be on the front row and it’s so close. Trouble is when you are on front row you hope for a dry race and a nice calm race so you can get some good points,” he said.

“We both want to win tomorrow so it’s important for us to do well in terms of the constructors’ championship.

“Both of us want to win. Neither of us are fighting for the championship, so we’re both going to fight for the win.

“I’m looking forward to it. We both qualified pretty well here – it’s the best qualifying we’ve both had here at Interlagos and it’s a fun circuit to race on.

“We’re going for a win. That’s what we’re here to do. It’s obviously an important weekend for Lewis, leaving the team, but we’ve come here to win.”

Webber said he is racing for himself and no one else

Mark Webber looked a possible polesitter in the first half of Q3 but was knocked to third by the McLarens. He said that he was not thinking of helping his Red Bull team-mate and only focusing on his own race ahead of what could be a changeable finale to the year.

“I think we focus on ourselves tomorrow and do the cleanest race I can. We know there is some tricky weather today,” said Webber.

“I will be focusing entirely on my own cockpit.”

We know Interlagos can be very hit and miss. A little shower can generate from everywhere and surprise you. We could run all three types of tyres – wet, slicks and inters.

“We need to keep our eyes open tomorrow. That is what can happen. Whatever it is, it will be a good final grand prix of the year and I am looking forward to a good result.”

Fourth place or higher in the race will give Germany another three-time champion

Webber’s team-mate Sebastian Vettel did not look happy after putting his car into fourth, and accepted it could have been better. He said he was aware of the McLarens being threatening this weekend, and mused that a long race was ahead, a race in which if Vettel finishes in the top 4, he will be champion regardless of Alonso’s finishing postion.

“We finished fourth today, which maybe is not the best position we could have got, but we can be quite happy and starting fourth is not a disaster,” said Vettel, who starts three places ahead of Alonso.

“There are more people behind us than in front. I’m happy with fourth and there are plenty of opportunities for tomorrow.

“The second lap I was pretty happy, but unfortunately I wasn’t quick enough. I was probably a bit shy here and there and dropped a bit of time. Mark had a good run in Q3 and on top of that the McLarens have been very quick all weekend, so it’s something we expected going into qualifying.”

Alonso says it is out of his control to decide the title

Fernando Alonso was neutral on the eighth place he ended qualifying in, pointing to recent qualifying performances as evidence that Ferrari did not expect to be much higher on the grid. Starting three places behind his title rival Vettel, the Spaniard admitted he needs luck on his side to score the 13 more points than Vettel that he needs to win the title.

“It’s not a surprise because we started seventh in Abu Dhabi, ninth in the USA, and eighth here. So it’s more or less as expected,” said Alonso.

“We’ll try to repeat our performance on Sunday and reach the podium like Abu Dhabi and Austin.

“We need some strange circumstances, we need a chaotic race in a way, rain or something, let’s hope we see something like that.”

Brazilian GP Grid

Pos Driver Team Time Gap
1. Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1m12.458s
2. Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1m12.513s + 0.055
3. Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault 1m12.581s + 0.123
4. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault 1m12.760s + 0.302
5. Felipe Massa Ferrari 1m12.987s + 0.529
6. Nico Hulkenberg Force India-Mercedes 1m13.206s + 0.748
7. Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1m13.253s + 0.795
8. Kimi Raikkonen Lotus-Renault 1m13.298s + 0.840
9. Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1m13.489s + 1.031
10. Paul di Resta Force India-Mercedes 1m14.121s + 0.912
11. Bruno Senna Williams-Renault 1m14.219s + 1.010
12. Sergio Perez Sauber-Ferrari 1m14.234s + 1.025
13. Michael Schumacher Mercedes 1m14.334s + 1.125
14. Kamui Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari 1m14.380s + 1.171
15. Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m14.574s + 1.365
16. Pastor Maldonado Williams-Renault * Penalty
17. Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m14.619s + 1.410
18. Romain Grosjean Lotus-Renault 1m16.967s + 1.892
19. Vitaly Petrov Caterham-Renault 1m17.073s + 1.998
20. Heikki Kovalainen Caterham-Renault 1m17.086s + 2.011
21. Timo Glock Marussia-Cosworth 1m17.508s + 2.433
22. Charles Pic Marussia-Cosworth 1m18.104s + 3.029
23. Narain Karthikeyan HRT-Cosworth 1m19.576s + 4.501
24. Pedro de la Rosa HRT-Cosworth 1m19.699s + 4.624

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