Brazilian GP - Saturday - Qualifying Session Report

Vettel claims pole record!

Sebastian Vettel, Brazilian GP 2011

Sebastian Vettel, Brazilian GP 2011 

 © Active Pictures

Sebastian Vettel beat Nigel Mansell's 19-year-old record for the most pole positions in a season when his 1m11.918s lap beat Red Bull Racing team mate Mark Webber to quickest Brazilian GP qualifying time by 0.18s.

It was the double champion's 15th pole of this year and the 29th of his career. Vettel's effort means he stands 16-3 against Webber this year as the constructors' champions took every pole bar one.

"He shared the record for two weeks with Mr Mansell and to beat that is an awesome achievement," said Red Bull team principal Christian Horner. "Seb enjoys the statistics, it's a small bit of history and he's made his mark in the small time he's been in F1. He now sits on top of some illustrious names."

Vettel grinned as he described his feelings going for the record-setting pole.

"There was a lot of talk and the best thing was not to think about it," he said. "Yesterday I wasn't 100% happy with the balance but we made the right choices overnight and I was happier. I was happy with my first lap in Q3 but I knew there was a bit more to come.

"I felt quite emotional when I crossed the line on the second run because I knew I gave it my all and then I had to wait a while to see if the time was enough. My engineer Rocky told me 'Jenson P2,' then 'Mark P2,' then, 'pole position!' It was very special to me."

Webber (1:12.099) said with a wry smile that he'd done his best to 'look after Nige' (Mansell) but that it hadn't been quite enough.

"Today's qualifying went well," he said, "we've been pretty strong the whole weekend and it was nice to keep the heat on Sebastian. I think we both got the most out of the car and I'll be looking for the win tomorrow."

Jenson Button (1:12.283) was just a couple of tenths further adrift with the first McLaren, outqualifying team mate Lewis Hamilton (1:12.480) as both men target their fourth victory of the season. With the strong possibility of inclement weather on race day, that could play into the hands of the McLaren duo.

It was Button's best qualifying result at Interlagos (he started fourth in 2005 in a BAR-Honda). "I love racing here," he said, "It's very good for overtaking and now we've got DRS out of T3 as well, so hopefully we can get the Red Bulls tomorrow."

Fernando Alonso (1:12.591) was a tenth adrift of Hamilton in the first of the Ferraris, with Felipe Massa (1:13.068) the best part of half a second shy in the sister car, the Maranello pair split by Nico Rosberg's Mercedes (1:13.050), which had gone half a second quicker en route to second fastest time in Q2.

In recent races Adrian Sutil (1:13.298) has done a very strong job of proving that he should retain a race seat at Force India next year or, if not, is deserving of a full-time ride somewhere else.

Another man fighting for his F1 life is Bruno Senna (1:13.761), who helped his cause in front of an appreciative home crown with ninth quickest time. In Q2 he was fully seven tenths quicker than Renault team mate Vitaly Petrov, who starts the race 15th.

"It's been a very tough weekend and it was important to get everything together on the lap," Senna said. "The temperature dropped and conditions changed quite a bit. Every performance counts and it's good to finish the year like this but the race could be a lottery in wet conditions.

Completing the top 10 qualifiers was Michael Schumacher in the second Mercedes, the seven times champion completing just sector times in Q3, saving tyres and giving him freedom of choice for the start of the race. Whether that affords him an advantage or not will depend on the weather.


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