Saturday, 26 November 2011

Vettel Sets Pole Record in Brazil

Sebastian Vettel claimed a record 15th pole position of the 2011 season in qualifying for the Brazilian Grand Prix on Saturday.

The world champion lapped Sao Paulo's Autodromo Jose Carlos Pace in one minute 11.918 seconds, with Mark Webber completing an all-Red Bull front row.

Webber's best was 0.181secs slower than Vettel's but still sufficient to beat Jenson Button, who lines up third ahead of McLaren team-mate Lewis Hamilton.

Ferrari's Fernando Alonso qualified fifth ahead of Mercedes GP's Nico Rosberg, with Ferrari's Felipe Massa lining up seventh for his home race ahead of Force India's Adrian Sutil.

Another Brazilian, Bruno Senna, qualified ninth for Renault, with Michael Schumacher completing the top 10 in his Mercedes.

Vettel's best time came on his second flying lap of the Q3 session. Although Button briefly moved second, he was soon pipped by Webber, with Hamilton's best subsequently falling short by over half a second.

The German's 15th pole beats the previous best for a season set by Nigel Mansell in 1992. Asked about his emotions in claiming the record, the 24-year-old said: "It's difficult. There had been quite some talk before qualifying about this particular record, but it was best not to think about it at all.

"So I was enjoying the moment, enjoying the laps, and I put everything into the last lap.

"It was very emotional when I crossed the line because I knew I had given it my all. I then had to wait quite a time to see if it was good enough or not.

"It took the master in Nigel Mansell a few races less (16), but in the end it's really special and different to other poles."

Webber, still chasing his first win of the year, believes he can do that on Sunday.

"Today's qualifying went well, the whole weekend we've looked strong, so I have to keep the heat on Seb," said Webber.

"Unfortunately I couldn't look after Nige (Mansell) today and get pole, but we can look forward to the race."

For Button, it was the first time he has qualified in the top 10 in Brazil for six years, so the Englishman was happy enough.

"It's the last race and I want to end on a high," said Button. "I'm just enjoying the moment and hopefully we can get these two (Vettel and Webber) tomorrow.

"But whatever happens it's been a great season, but just not good enough to match Sebastian."

Button starts ahead of Hamilton for the seventh time this season, with Sutil and particularly Senna also giving notably strong performances.

Sutil, who is expected to move to Williams next season, starts three places ahead of team-mate Paul di Resta while Senna, who is expected to make way for Romain Grosjean next season, out-qualified Vitaly Petrov for the fifth time in eight races.

At the start of the 15-minute Q2, and with the threat of rain in the air, all 17 drivers involved set off on the faster soft tyres.

Senna proved to be the fly in the ointment for di Resta as an expected top-10 grid slot did not materialise for the Scot courtesy of the Brazilian performing superbly in the middle session.

Di Resta starts ahead of another Brazilian in Williams' Rubens Barrichello, who potentially competes in his last grand prix on Sunday.

Jaime Alguersuari out-qualified Toro Rosso team-mate Sebastien Buemi for the 13th time this season, while Petrov starts a lowly 15th ahead of Sauber pair Kamui Kobayashi and Sergio Perez.

Williams' Pastor Maldonado was totally overshadowed by Barrichello, the Venezuelan finishing half a second down on his team-mate at the end of the opening 20-minute Q1.

Maldonado will line up 18th ahead of Lotus pair Heikki Kovalainen and Jarno Trulli, with Hispania duo Vitantonio Liuzzi and Daniel Ricciardo in 21st and 22nd.

It is not the way Virgin Racing will have wanted to end the season as they occupy the back row for the first time this year, with Jerome D'Ambrosio edging out Timo Glock for the fourth time.

1 Sebastian Vettel (Ger) Red Bull 1min 11.918secs, 2 Mark Webber (Aus) Red Bull 1:12.099, 3 Jenson Button (Gbr) McLaren 1:12.283, 4 Lewis Hamilton (Gbr) McLaren 1:12.480, 5 Fernando Alonso (Spa) Ferrari 1:12.591, 6 Nico Rosberg (Ger) Mercedes GP 1:13.050, 7 Felipe Massa (Bra) Ferrari 1:13.068, 8 Adrian Sutil (Ger) Force India 1:13.298, 9 Bruno Senna (Bra) Renault 1:13.761, 10 Michael Schumacher (Ger) Mercedes GP No Time, 11 Paul di Resta (Gbr) Force India 1:13.584, 12 Rubens Barrichello (Bra) Williams 1:13.801, 13 Jaime Alguersuari (Spa) Scuderia Toro Rosso 1:13.804, 14 Sebastien Buemi (Swi) Scuderia Toro Rosso 1:13.919, 15 Vitaly Petrov (Rus) Renault 1:14.053, 16 Kamui Kobayashi (Jpn) Sauber-Ferrari 1:14.129, 17 Sergio Perez (Mex) Sauber-Ferrari 1:14.182, 18 Pastor Maldonado (Ven) Williams 1:14.625, 19 Heikki Kovalainen (Fin) Lotus F1 1:15.068, 20 Jarno Trulli (Ita) Lotus F1 1:15.358, 21 Vitantonio Liuzzi (Ita) HRT-F1 1:16.631, 22 Daniel Ricciardo (Aus) HRT-F1 1:16.890, 23 Jerome d'Ambrosio (Bel) Virgin Racing 1:17.019, 24 Timo Glock (Ger) Virgin Racing 1:17.060