Brazilian GP 2016
NOVEMBER 12, 2016
Qualifying Report - 51 and none
By Dan Knutson in Interlagos
Lewis Hamilton has won 51 Formula 1 races but he has never won the Brazilian Grand Prix. But by earning the 60th pole of his career at Interlagos he put himself in the prime spot to take his 52nd victory in Brazil.
The ambient temperature at the start of qualifying was 66 degrees Fahrenheit (19 degrees Centigrade) and the track temperature was 81 degrees Fahrenheit (27 degrees Centigrade). There was a 70 percent chance of rain.
The line-up for the weekend was: Mercedes - Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg. Ferrari - Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen. Williams Mercedes - Felipe Massa and Valtteri Bottas. Red Bull TAG Heuer - Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen . Force India Mercedes - Nico Hulkenberg and Sergio Perez. Renault - Kevin Magnussen and Jolyon Palmer. Toro Rosso Ferrari - Daniil Kvyat and Carlos Sainz. Sauber Ferrari - Marcus Ericsson and Felipe Nasr. McLaren Honda - Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button. Manor Mercedes - Pascal Wehrlein and Esteban Ocon. Haas Ferrari - Romain Grosjean and Esteban Gutierrez.
With that risk of rain looming, the drives hurried out right away to get in some drying running when the 18-minute session began. Pirelli's soft compound slicks were the tires of choice.
"With such a short and fast lap here, all mistakes are magnified. Really important to have a clean lap and avoid traffic as best as possible," Pirelli tweeted.
Hamilton got things rolling with a time of 1:11.511 and then Rosberg crossed the line to post a 1:11.815.
Verstappen claimed third and Raikkonen fourth. Vettel had yet to do a lap five minutes into FP1, but with his car now repaired he set off. His time of 1:12.159 put him fifth.
The top bunch now consisted of: Hamilton, Rosberg, Verstappen, Raikkonen, Vettel, Ricciardo, Massa and Bottas.
Palmer was 16th and on the cutline with Perez 15th and Button 17th.
Everybody but the Manor drivers was back in the pits with six minutes to go. By now there were bits of blue in the sky.
With two minutes to go, the top nine drivers were in the pits and all the rest were on track. When all the lapping was over, the six drivers who were eliminated at the end of FP1 were: Button, Magnussen, Wehrlein, Ocon, Ericsson and Nasr.
The fastest 16 drivers who moved on to Q2 were: Hamilton, Rosberg, Verstappen, Raikkonen, Vettel, Ricciardo, Hulkenberg, Massa, Bottas, Perez, Alonso, Grosjean, Sainz, Gutierrez, Kvyat and Palmer.
Hamilton and Rosberg were the first out in the 15-minute Q2 session. Once again the drivers were on the soft Pirellis.
Hamilton set a time of 1.11.238 and Rosberg a 1:11.373. Verstappen and Ricciardo moved into third and fourth, but then Vettel snatched fourth from Ricciardo.
So the order was now: Hamilton, Rosberg, Verstappen, Vettel, Ricciardo, Raikkonen, Bottas and Alonso.
Down at the bubble, Massa was ninth, Sainz tenth and Kvyat 11th, but Perez and Hulkenberg had yet to do a lap.
Hulkenberg moved into ninth and Perez tenth, and so Massa was now 11th. Grosjean and Gutierrez skipped the first round of laps.
The final dash in Q2 came with just over two minutes to go. The top six drivers stayed in the pits.
Massa made it up to ninth but was quickly pushed down to 13th.
The six drivers who were eliminated at the end of FP2 were: Bottas, Gutierrez, Massa, Kvyat, Sainz and Palmer.
The fastest 10 drivers who moved on to Q3 were: Hamilton, Rosberg, Verstappen, Vettel, Ricciardo, Raikkonen, Alonso, Perez, Grosjean and Hulkenberg.
The Mercedes duo was the first out for Q3 that lasted 12 minutes. It was soft tires for all once again.
Hamilton crossed the line with a time of 1:10.860. Then Rosberg recorded a 1:11.022.
Verstappen got back into third place ahead of Vettel, Ricciardo, Raikkonen, Alonso, Hulkenberg and Perez.
Grosjean did not do a lap initially, but he headed out with four minutes to go and had the track to himself. He took over seventh place, but now the other drivers were heading out for their final runs.
Hamilton improved his pole lap to 1:10.736 - Rosberg was close on his final lap but ended up a tenth behind with a 1:10.838. Raikkonen improved to a 1:11.404 to take third ahead of Verstappen, Vettel, Ricciardo, Grosjean, Hulkenberg, Perez and Alonso.