Hamilton leads McLaren front row at Interlagos

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F1 Grand Prix, GP Brazil, Autódromo José Carlos Pace, Interlagosbr

Lewis Hamilton took pole for the Brazilian GP, leading his teammate Jenson Button to secure a McLaren front row. Behind them will start the Red Bull cars as Mark Webber qualified third and Sebastian Vettel 4th. Fernando Alonso qualified in 8th place.

20 minutes ahead of qualifying, a short but intense shower passed over the Interlagos circuit, but with temperatures at 25°C, the track is quickly drying up.

As the pitlight went green, Kovalainen is the first to go out, having queued at the end of the pitlane for 2 full minutes. Vitaly Petrov follows behind, along with the HRT and Marussia cars. They soon find the track is still slippery enough in some sections to warrant very careful driving. Turn 12 to turn 14 are particularly wet, while the slowest corners of the track are quite dry.

All cars first on track are on medium, dry weather tyres, and Glock is the fastest man of the first 6, passing Kovalainen and Petrov during his flying lap. One minute later, the Toro Rosso drivers and Sauber cars are out as well.

6 minutes into the session, Jean-Eric Vergne recorded the fastest lap, quicker than Kobayashi. The main protagonists are still in the pitlane while Hulkenberg attempts to do a flying lap on intermediates, but he comes back in at the end of his flying lap, knowing that dry weather tyres are more appropriate.

2 minutes later, Maldonado posts a 1:18.709, triggering Webber, Alonso and Hamilton to go out on the track. Half a minute later Senna nearly matches his teammate and moves up to second on the timesheet.

With 6 minutes left, Hamilton is fastest with 1:17.346, followed by Alonso, Massa, Hulkenberg, Senna, Maldonado, Raikkonen, Vettel and Button. Everybody is on long runs to benefit optimally from the improving track conditions.

3 minutes from the end, Grosjean gets his front wing clipped when trying to pass De La Rosa in the high speed turn 15. The Frenchman took the inside, but the HRT drivers was seemingly unaware of the Lotus and simple turned in, requiring him to back out of it. With the pitlane just passed by, Grosjean has to complete another lap before being able to change the wing. That leaves him with a single flying lap at the very end of the session to move up from 17th place.

At the front, Hamilton is fastest with a 1:15.075. Senna is second, followed by Button, Hulkenberg, Vettel and Di Resta. As Ricciardo at the very end put in an improved flying lap on the medium tyres, Grosjean is eliminated, along with Petrov, Kovalainen, Glock, Pic, Karthikeyan and De La Rosa.

With the track nearly completely dry, Q2 sets off with Jean-Eric Vergne taking to the track immediately. Many others however also seem eager to get on with it, including Alonso and Schumacher. The Red Bull and McLaren drivers stay in a little bit longer.

4 minutes into the session, the first laps are in and Alonso is fastest, 0.005 faster than Hulkenberg. Massa is third, Schumacher 4th and Di Resta 5th. While most cars are using the softer tyres, Alonso and Massa are running on the harder tyres, and on their second laps improve further to put Ferrari 1st and 2nd.

With 7 minutes left, nearly all runners are back in as only Senna is still running and Hamilton has just left the pits. The next minute also sees Webber, Button and Vettel come out, all on the medium tyres. Another minute later Alonso and Massa are back out as well, now on the medium tyres.

2 minutes from the end, Vettel has gone fastest, followed by Hamilton, Button, Raikkonen, Maldonado, Rosberg, Webber and Alonso. With the times tumbling quickly, even Vettel is told to put in another flying lap, just to be sure.

Schumacher and Massa are in trouble at the end of the session, just as well as Alonso. Massa did improve in the final seconds to just get through. Alonso was 9th fastest and Massa 10th. Slower than the Ferraris and eliminated are Di Resta, Senna, Perez, Schumacher, Kobayashi, Ricciardo and Vergne.

Q3 kicks off with Rosberg and sunshine. As expected, Rosberg is out on the medium tyres and told to do two flying laps. Rosberg's weaving on his first flying lap is telling on the slow tyre warmup that the Mercedes suffers with, while Alonso and Hamilton can easily put in competitive laps on their first attempts.

With 4 minutes left, Alonso is pushed back into the box and Hamilton is on top of the timesheet, ahead of Button, Webber, Massa, Alonso. Vettel is just 6th and Rosberg 7th.

2 minutes from the end, Hulkenberg posts 4th and Raikkonen 6th, in between the Ferrari cars. At the same time, Alonso gets out on track, followed by Hamilton, Button and Vettel.

Webber is the first to start his final flying lap and starts off with a purple (fastest) first sector. HE ends his lap in 1:12.581. Alonso is next and goes 1:13.253, provisionally 5th.

Hamilton then crosses the line to take pole, with Vettel taking 4th and Button second. Alonso will have to settle for 8th.

Results

Pos.NoDriverTeamQ1Q2Q3Laps
14Lewis HamiltonMcLaren-Mercedes1:15.0751:13.3981:12.45821
23Jenson ButtonMcLaren-Mercedes1:15.4561:13.5151:12.51320
32Mark WebberRed Bull Racing-Renault1:16.1801:13.6671:12.58122
41Sebastian VettelRed Bull Racing-Renault1:15.6441:13.2091:12.76019
56Felipe MassaFerrari1:16.2631:14.0481:12.98725
618Pastor Maldonado (*)Williams-Renault1:16.2661:13.6981:13.17424
712Nico HulkenbergForce India-Mercedes1:15.5361:13.7041:13.20623
85Fernando AlonsoFerrari1:16.0971:13.8561:13.25325
99Kimi RäikkönenLotus-Renault1:16.4321:13.6981:13.29822
108Nico RosbergMercedes AMG1:15.9291:13.8481:13.48926
1111Paul di RestaForce India-Mercedes1:15.9011:14.121-18
1219Bruno SennaWilliams-Renault1:15.3331:14.219-21
1315Sergio PerezSauber-Ferrari1:15.9741:14.234-21
147Michael SchumacherMercedes AMG1:16.0051:14.334-17
1514Kamui KobayashiSauber-Ferrari1:16.4001:14.380-24
1616Daniel RicciardoSTR-Ferrari1:16.7441:14.574-22
1717Jean-Eric VergneSTR-Ferrari1:16.7221:14.619-23
1810Romain GrosjeanLotus-Renault1:16.967--8
1921Vitaly PetrovCaterham-Renault1:17.073--14
2020Heikki KovalainenCaterham-Renault1:17.086--14
2124Timo GlockMarussia-Cosworth1:17.508--13
2225Charles PicMarussia-Cosworth1:18.104--14
2323Narain KarthikeyanHRT-Cosworth1:19.576--13
2422Pedro de la RosaHRT-Cosworth1:19.699--12

(*) Pastor Maldonado was later handed a 10-place grid penalty


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News on 24 November 2012