Brazilian GP - Saturday - Qualifying Session Report
Sebastian Vettel grabbed the pole for the Brazilian Grand Prix in a Qualifying 3 session that had to be delayed 40 minutes because of rain. Nico Rosberg put his Mercedes alongside the Red Bull driver on the front row of the grid. Fernando Alonso (Ferrari) and Mark Webber (Red Bull) filled the second row of the grid.
The ambient air temperature at the start of the 60-minute session was 66 degrees Fahrenheit (19 degrees Celsius), and the track temperature was 70 degrees Fahrenheit (21 degrees Celsius.)
The ambient air and track temperatures at the start of the 60-minute session were both 66 degrees Fahrenheit (19 degrees Celsius.) While the heavier rain had stopped there was enough swirling drizzle that the track remained wet, and Pirelli's intermediate rain tires were used by the drivers.
With the forecast predicting more rain, the drivers lined up at pit exit with Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) at the head of the queue.
Within a minute or two every driver was on track and pounding around on intermediate tires. Hamilton set the mark at 1:25.342. Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull) slotted into second with a 1:25.381. Nico Rosberg (Mercedes) was third with a 1:25.556.
As the racing line started to dry, the teams began to ponder when they should switch over to dry tires. But then the rain started to increase again.
Halfway through Q1 the top six were: Hamilton, Vettel. Rosberg, Nico Hulkenberg (Sauber), Paul di Resta (Force India) and Jenson Button (McLaren.)
With 9 minutes remaining in the session, most of the drivers were back in the pits waiting for the rain to ease off. Those who had gone out immediately at the start of FP1 had set quicker times than those who waited a minute or two.
With 5 minutes remaining in the session, Jean-Eric Vergne (Toro Rosso) who was 17th and on the bubble, was out trying to break into the top 16 that would move on to Q2. His teammate Daniel Ricciardo, who was 15th, Heikki Kovalainen (Lotus), who was 14th, and Pastor Maldonado (Williams) who was 16th were also circulating to try and make sure they stayed in the game.
With less than 2 minutes remaining in the session, Esteban Gutierrez (Sauber) moved up to 17th. And Kovalainen jumped up to fifth as Maldonado took 17th from Gutierrez as Vergne grabbed 15th.
The top 10 at the end of Q2 were: Hamilton, Vettel. Rosberg, Hulkenberg, Kovalainen, di Resta, Button, Romain Grosjean (Lotus), Fernando Alonso (Ferrari) and Mark Webber (Red Bull.)
The six drivers eliminated at the end of Q1 were: Maldonado, Gutierrez, Charles Pic (Caterham), Guido van der Garde (Caterham), Jules Bianchi (Marussia) and Max Chilton (Marussia.)
Light to very light rain was forecast for FP2. The Mercedes duo of Rosberg and Hamilton kicked things off. Again there was a mad rush as everybody wanted to get out and get a "banker" lap in. All 16 drivers were on the track on inters.
Rosberg set the first lap time: 1:26.626. Then Hamilton crossed the line with a 1:27.044.
Sebastian Vettel was one of the last to cross the line on that first run, and he grabbed first with a 1:26.515. Fernando Alonso (Ferrari) was fourth, Vergne fifth and Kovalainen sixth.
With 9 minutes remaining in the session, Webber moved into third with a time of 1:26.963 but Hamilton eclipsed that with a 1:26.698.
With 6 minutes remaining in the session, Ricciardo was 10th and on the bubble ahead of Button.
With 5 minutes remaining in the session, Vettel was on another flier. He improved to a 1:26.449.
With 3 minutes remaining in the session, all 16 drivers were on the track as Ricciardo got demoted to 11th.
With 2 minutes remaining in the session, Grosjean topped the times with a 1:26.161 as Ricciardo jumped to eighth.
As the checkered flag ended the session Sergio Perez lost control of his McLaren and slammed into the wall.
The top 10 at the end of Q2 were: Grosjean, Vettel, Alonso, Rosberg, Hamilton, Webber, Felipe Massa (Ferrari), Ricciardo, Vergne and Hulkenberg.
The six drivers eliminated at the end of Q2 were: Kovalainen, di Resta, Valtteri Bottas (Williams), Perez, Jenson Button (McLaren) and Adrian Sutil (Force India.)
It started to rain heavily just before the 10 minute Q3 began. Officials delayed the start of the session by 10 minutes because of the volume of water on the track. They then delayed the session a further 10 minutes. And another 10 minutes.
The 10 minute increment delay notices continued until officials declared that Q3 would begin at 3:30 p.m. local times, so the total delay had been 40 minutes.
Webber was first in line to go out. Vettel was just behind him. They had Pirelli's extreme wet weather tires fitted to their Red Bulls. Ricciardo was third onto the track and Hulkenberg fourth.
Webber set the first lap time of Q3: 1:29.215 and then Vettel clocked a 1:28.830.
With 6 minutes remaining in the session, Rosberg slid into second with a 1:29.021 and Hamilton took third with a 1:29.181.
With 5 minutes remaining in the session, the Red Bull drivers pitted for intermediates. Other drivers did the same.
With 3 minutes remaining in the session, Grosjean grabbed the top spot with a 1:27.773.
With 2 minutes remaining in the session, Webber beat that with a 1:27.623 and then Vettel turned a 1:26.479.
With 1 minute remaining in the session, Rosberg took second with a 1:27.555. The Alonso grabbed the spot with a time of 1:27.539. Rosberg retook second, with a 1:27.102, pushing Alonso to third and Webber to fourth.
Hamilton, Grosjean, Ricciardo, Vergne, Massa and Hulkenberg rounded out the top 10.