Brazil: Even the rain cannot stop Vettel
Vettel set the fastest time with a lap of 1m26.479s. Rosberg grabbed second spot with a time of 1m27.102s.
Vettel celebrated over the radio: "Unbelievable, we didn't need a second attempt - we did it in the first one! Ole!" He is that good.
Fernando Alonso was a fine third on the grid for Ferrari. Mark Webber ended his afternoon in fourth spot, ahead of Lewis Hamilton fifth, Romain Grosjean sixth, Ricciardo seventh and Vergne eighth.
Massa was ninth at home and Nico Hulkenberg rounds out the top 10 after an entertaining final qualifying session.
The Red Bull driver dominated a Q3 session delayed by 45 minutes due to intense rainfall.
Although Romain Grosjean briefly held provisional pole, Vettel's first lap put him 1.1s clear of all his rivals.
The ambient air temperature at the start of the 60-minute session was a cool 66 degrees Fahrenheit (19 degrees Celsius), and the track temperature was 70 degrees Fahrenheit (21 degrees Celsius.)
Sebastian Vettel (1st, 1:26.479): "It was a surprise to get that time today. I was happy after Q3, it took a long time for us to get out as there was a lot of rain at the end of Q2. There was too much water on track, which is a shame for the people in the grandstands, but if there's too much risk of aquaplaning, it's better to wait. We then got out and I was surprised by how much the water had cleared. I went straight onto intermediates and was able to get a very good lap in straight away. I tried to beat that and got close, but it wasn't enough. I was very happy to hear I got pole, I even mixed up Spanish and Portuguese on the radio! Hopefully we get a good chance tomorrow. We only had little practice in these conditions, but we still got the car where we wanted it, so I'm very happy."
Mark Webber (4th, 1:27.572): "We are where we deserved to be I think, as I didn't feel that quick in qualifying. The car felt slow and I was struggling for grip. It was tricky for all of us, but we're on the second row and we can still do something from there. It's tricky to get it all together in those conditions, I wasn't too comfortable in Q1 and Q2 on the intermediate tires, but that's the way it goes. There's not much more to add really than it was tricky, it's easier to be a lot further back in those conditions and we can still do something from fourth, so let's see tomorrow."
Christian Horner, Sporting Director: "A very difficult three qualifying sessions with changeable weather. It was a matter of navigating your way through the first two sessions to get into Q3, which then started off very wet. Once they went out, both drivers elected to change to intermediates tires very early, which gave them three laps each. Sebastian produced a stunning lap on his first, to claim his ninth pole of the year by an impressive margin. Mark backed that up in his final Formula One qualifying session to start on the second row of the grid to endorse two very strong starting positions for the last race of the year. It's incredible to think that Mark will be heading out for his final Formula One race tomorrow. He has been with us for many years and his career has spanned 214 race starts, which will become 215 tomorrow. He's already achieved nine wins, 41 podiums and 13 pole positions in Formula One; he's a tough competitor and I've no doubt he will be looking to add to his impressive win tally tomorrow."
Thierry Salvi, Renault: "It was a hard exercise with the wet conditions today. Tuning the car to be able to extract the most of the wet tires was again a challenge. I think the team managed the quali timing in a very good way and was able to do a lot of laps in all sessions. Seb showed again how comfortable he is driving the car, even with heavy rain. Let's see how things go tomorrow. It's the last race for the RS27 so it would be good to end it on a high if we can."
Fernando Alonso (3rd, 1:27.539): "After the results of the last few Grands Prix, it's really good news to be back in the top three. Unfortunately, I didn't manage to get a perfect lap, because I went off the track at turn 4. I lost seven or eight tenths there and I think also second place on the time sheet, which I believe was within our grasp today. We know our car is more competitive in the wet and it's a shame that this year, it's only rained here, but now we have to look ahead and think about getting on the podium tomorrow, as if we were fighting for the World Championship, because it would be the best way to end the season. Here at Interlagos, you never get consistent conditions and we saw that again today, when we went from an extremely wet track to an almost dry one in ten minutes. That's why I expect a very hectic race in which we will have to pay maximum attention to not making any mistakes. It will also be necessary to have a perfect strategy and an ability to react very quickly."
Felipe Massa (9th, 1:28.109): "This qualifying session was made particularly complicated by the changing weather, because in the space of a few moments, it went from strong rain to suddenly stopping and everything in between happened! I am not happy with my lap, because believe me, I expected something better, but I lost time in the second and third sectors and on some parts of the track, I was aquaplaning and losing grip. I am disappointed to have lost a lot of places because of that, as I was aiming to start from further up the order, but now all we can do is think about having a good race. For tomorrow, they are predicting rain, but we must be ready for whatever conditions we get, because here you never know and we haven't done so much as a single lap on a dry track. Without a doubt it will be a very exciting race for us drivers and for the fans too: all the energy they exude will be an extra motivation for me to do well on what is a very important day."
Stefano Domenicali, Team Principal:
Pat Fry: "That was a rather odd day, with most of the work concentrated into the afternoon. Because of rain in the morning free practice session, we decided to only do a double installation lap with the idea of saving as many sets of new tires as possible for qualifying and the race. In such changeable weather and with so much water on the track, the best choice seemed to be not to take any risks, which turned out to be the right one, given the prolonged rain in the afternoon. In qualifying the main difficulty was interpreting the track conditions: in Q1, we immediately managed to set a good time on a set of intermediates, while in Q2 we used two sets of new intermediates. The worsening weather conditions delayed the start of Q3, where before going out on the last set of intermediates, we had to go out on the Extreme wets. I am pleased with the way the team worked in the pits, as regards delaying our drivers going out on track so that they ended up being the last to cross the line. Fernando got a good lap and I think tomorrow we can aim to finish on the podium. However, it was a shame for Felipe as he was unable to improve in the second and third sectors, but I am sure that in his final race with Ferrari, he will try and make up for it tomorrow in front of his home crowd. In the race it will be important to adapt as quickly as possible to the track conditions, which according to the forecast will be similar to today's, with a 30% chance of rain."
Sergio Perez (14th, 1:28.269): "It's hard to know for sure, but I think we made the correct decision to run in qualifying when we did, but the car wasn't responding properly. I think perhaps we got the tire pressures incorrect because I couldn't find enough grip out there. My accident in Q2 looked bigger than it actually was - as soon as I lost the car, I went over the grass and hit the wall - but it was only a slight hit, and the car wasn't too badly damaged. It's a pity, but I was giving it my all. I knew it was my last opportunity to set a time; it was getting wetter, and I was pushing right to the limit, because I knew the car wasn't responding well. I was trying my hardest, in other words. In similar conditions, I still think we can make up some positions tomorrow. I'm looking forward to the race - I hope we can end the season on a high."
Jenson Button (15th, 1:28.308): "We sat out most of FP3 in order to save tires, which felt like the right thing to do at the time, but in retrospect maybe it wasn't the right call. After all, we hadn't run in wet conditions on the Intermediate tires before qualifying, so we weren't prepared for the problems we then encountered. But hindsight is a wonderful thing. We were running a low-downforce configuration, which probably didn't help either. We felt that set-up was working for us yesterday, when it wasn't as wet, but it probably hurt us in getting pressure into the tire. Still, we were good in Q1 - I ended up in P7 - but, when it rained harder in Q2, I couldn't get enough temperature into the tires. Hopefully, we can mix it up a bit tomorrow - although the weather on Sunday is supposed to be a bit drier. Hopefully, though, we'll have some good racing, and we won't spend too long behind the Safety Car!"
Martin Whitmarsh, Team Principal: "Obviously, to qualify 14th and 15th for the last grand prix of the year is very disappointing, even if what caught us out were the very unpredictable weather conditions. In Q1, however, we were 7th and 11th - which, albeit not stellar, represented a more accurate reflection of our ambient pace relative to our opposition. In Q2, though, the timing of our runs wasn't quite perfect, and as a result we struggled to switch the tires on when we needed to. In wet-dry conditions such as those we faced today, the art is always in finding that sweet-spot moment in which to be on the track the optimal time, and you can't always get it right. Having said all that, although the weather is forecast to be less rainy tomorrow than it's been yesterday and today, it's unlikely to be dry and sunny all afternoon. That being the case, there's no doubt that both Jenson and Checo can make good progress from their poor grid positions when the five red lights go out on the start line gantry and the race begins."
Romain Grosjean (6th, 1:27.737): "That was quite a difficult afternoon. It was tricky to decide which tire we should use for the final qualifying session and we wanted to try for pole which is why we used the intermediates, but in the end there was probably just a little bit too much water which certainly made things interesting. Ultimately my lap wasn't good enough, but the car has been strong all weekend so we're confident for the race no matter what the weather is. Certainly, my Q2 lap in the wet today was very good and we know we have a strong baseline setup in the dry, so let's see what happens."
Heikki Kovalainen (11th, 1:27.458): "It's disappointing not to make the top ten, but I just didn't have enough pace in the second session; it's as simple as that. The conditions weren't ideal, but it's the same for everybody and there was nothing wrong with the car so I can't have any complaints. It's not the ideal starting position, but the car is performing well and anything can happen in motor racing - especially here at Interlagos - so we'll look at where we can improve for tomorrow and try to do a better job in the race."
Alan Permane, Chief Race Engineer: "Honestly? Rather disappointing. The car has been performing well all weekend in the wet conditions, so we were hoping for a strong performance. Heikki was unlucky to narrowly miss out on going through to the top ten by a very small margin, and conceded a couple of small errors on his lap. In the final session we let Romain down with a poorly timed pit stop after making the call to put him out on intermediates. These were the right tires, but we should have waited a little before he started his run on them. We still have a good chance for a strong result tomorrow. Both drivers have been very comfortable with the car in the wet conditions today and we know it performs well in the dry. If it's dry then everyone will be heading into the race without any tire data, which could be an advantage for us as our tire management in the race is generally amongst the best on the grid."
Nico Rosberg (2nd, 1:27.102): "That was a very demanding qualifying session today with really tricky conditions and a long break before the final session. I'm really pleased to have achieved second place on the grid and a big thank you to the team for their work; we did everything right today. My target was to give Sebastian a hard time so I was surprised that the gap was so big in these conditions. I lost time in the last sector compared to him which was down to a lack of KERS power when you do two consecutive quick laps. Being on the front row gives us a great opportunity in the race but the most important thing is to stay in front of the Ferraris."
Lewis Hamilton (5th, 1:27.677): "Naturally I'm a little disappointed with fifth place as Nico's position shows there was clearly potential for more today. Wet sessions haven't been too good for me this year and, although we made some changes going into qualifying, I'm struggling to get to grips with how the car works in these conditions. It's getting better but there is still so much to learn. However we've got everything to play for in the race tomorrow and I hope to have a good fight out there and make some progress forward. Our aim of course is to finish ahead of the Ferraris and hopefully score enough points to secure our second place finish."
Ross Brawn, Team Principal: "Qualifying sessions like that always offer plenty of potential to trip over and the team did a very good job today. To have both our cars in the top five is a good overall result after such an unusual afternoon. Nico has managed to get the car exactly where he wants it in terms of wet set-up this weekend and was very comfortable out there; Lewis hasn't quite found the same sweet spot but still delivered a strong lap to get into the top five. None of us have done any running in dry conditions this weekend so, if it does dry out tomorrow, it will be an interesting experience for all of us. That brings the potential for surprises and we will handle them as they come and seize every opportunity that comes our way."
Toto Wolff, Mercedes Motorsport Director: "A wet qualifying session is one where it's far easier to get things wrong than to get them right so it's pleasing that we managed to get things pretty much right this afternoon. It was a very tricky session and the team did a good job to deliver second and fifth places, although we must analyze why Lewis did not manage to put his second lap together and if, perhaps, we were a little too conservative with our timings. But it's always easy to be smart in hindsight and the important thing is that we will start from strong grid positions tomorrow. So overall we can be happy with a good team performance."
Nico Hulkenberg (10th, 1:29.582): "Reaching Q3 today was a success. It's been wet the whole weekend, and we've not been as competitive as I would have liked as we had problems with the balance of the car. It was difficult to nail every corner as the track was extremely slippery. At the beginning of the season we were better on wet tires and not so competitive on slicks, but now it seems to be the opposite. I think it will be an exciting race tomorrow and let's wait and see what the weather will be like."
Esteban Gutierrez (18th, 1:27.445): "The track was dry on the first lap. However, I made a mistake in the last corner and was just not able to recover what I gained in sectors one and two. After that it started to rain quite a lot and it was hard to catch up. It's disappointing. The car felt ok, it had a bit of oversteer, but that shouldn't have been too much of a problem. Starting 18th tomorrow will be challenging, but we have to work with what we've got."
Monisha Kaltenborn, Team Principal: "It's a disappointing result today, and it does not reflect our performance during the weekend so far. We struggled to be competitive in this weekend's conditions. Depending on the weather, this can change tomorrow. A dry race would be favorable for us."
Tom McCullough, Head of Track Engineering: "Throughout the weekend we have not been happy with the balance of the car in the intermediate and wet conditions, so we elected to do a lot of running in FP3 to try to improve the balance of the car. We made some progress, but ultimately we we're not as competitive as we wanted to be in these conditions, so our qualifying results reflect that. In Q1 Esteban was unfortunate not to put his three fastest sectors together, as his theoretical best time would have easily put him through to Q2. There is a slight risk of rain tomorrow, but it is still a risk, so we will work hard to get the most out of the car."
Paul di Resta (12th, 1:27.798): "The wet conditions have made for a very difficult weekend so far and I was only able to complete very limited running in the build-up to qualifying. So we've pretty much stuck with the set-up we decided on before coming here, which will hopefully help us tomorrow if the conditions improve and we get a dry track. If it is dry there will be a lot of unknowns, especially with the tires on a green track, and there's the possibility that we can take advantage of that. If it's wet then we are in a good position to race for points because our performance in the wet this weekend has been a step forward compared with earlier in the year. We will keep pushing and hopefully tomorrow we will be smiling after the race."
Adrian Sutil (16th, 1:28.586): "A very tricky session and the best conditions were right at the start of Q1. After that the conditions gradually became worse and worse for everyone. So in Q2 there was only one real opportunity to set your time, which was at the start of the session. I stayed out to see if the rain eased off, but when Perez had his accident the yellow flags came out so I pitted. The main issue was the lack of grip and I didn't have the confidence to really push. It looks like I will start P16 tomorrow, but we know it's a long race and it's uncertain what the weather will do. The races here in Brazil can be very unusual and unpredictable so we never give up and will keep pushing until the last lap."
Robert Fernley, Deputy Team Principal: "The wet weather continued today with conditions getting gradually worse as the qualifying hour unfolded. We judged Q1 pretty well with Paul and Adrian completing solid laps on the intermediates before the rain became heavier. It was a similar situation in Q2 with the rain continuing to fall. We sent both cars out as soon as the lights went green and Paul ended up just three tenths away from making Q3. Adrian was struggling slightly more and didn't have the confidence as the track got wetter. There's still a big question mark about the weather tomorrow and I think we can expect another unpredictable race whatever happens. The priority is to make sure we keep out of trouble and do what we need to secure our position in the Constructors' championship."
Valtteri Bottas (13th, 1:27.954): "The weekend has been difficult for us so far in the wet as we have struggled to get the best set-up here. Our car seems to suit the dry better at the moment so I think 13th is a fair reflection of where we are today. It's not a bad position to start the race from, so hopefully we can challenge for the top ten tomorrow and score some more points."
Pastor Maldonado (17th, 1:27.367): "It was a tough day today; we have been struggling a lot to get temperature into the rear tires all weekend. With the conditions as they were today we were unable to get 100% out of the car on the first lap which is when some of the best times were posted in Q1. Tomorrow we are still hopeful that we can be in the points, so we will prepare well tonight and do our best in the race."
Xevi Pujolar, Chief Race Engineer: "In FP3 we continued to do some work on both the full wet tires and intermediates to get them working better in the conditions. We improved but the less water on track the better the car was performing. In qualifying we had both cars on track at the right time, on the right tires, but as the rain fell harder we struggled for grip. Valtteri was able to get a better lap to progress into Q2 but as the level of water increased out on track, P13 was the best we could get out of the car today. There is still a chance of a dry race tomorrow, which would suit us better, but whatever the conditions we will be fighting to bring both cars home in the points."
Daniel Ricciardo (7th, 1:28.052): "It was tricky out there this afternoon, but even since last year, we have often demonstrated that we can be competitive in the wet. It's the best qualifying the team has had in a long time and I am very happy that both cars are in the top eight. I don't think there was much between me and Jev today. Tomorrow? The weather will probably decide the story, but anyway, seventh is a great place from which to start. I will be very motivated to convert today's work into points tomorrow on what will be my last race with Toro Rosso after two very happy seasons with them."
Jean-Eric Vergne (8th, 1:28.081): "I am happy for myself and for the team, because to get both cars into the top eight is a great result. We were not really as quick as I had expected to be, because usually, in other races this year, we have a very good car in the wet, but since Friday I have been struggling a bit more than usual in these changeable conditions. However, even if qualifying was not easy, starting from eighth is very encouraging, especially as it was a bit touch and go to get into Q2 at the start of the session, as we didn't time our first run very well. After that I managed a very good lap to get through to the next part of the session. Points definitely have to be my target for tomorrow and anything can happen here in the rain."
Laurent Mekies, Head of Vehicle Performance: "A long and complicated session for everyone, which ended in what is overall a very good result for us. Seventh and eighth is our best qualifying of the year and it's also the first time since Monza we got both cars into Q3. We started a bit on the back foot, nearly getting caught out by going out a bit late for the first run, but both drivers improved on the second run, after which we had a more straightforward Q2. Daniel and Jev both did well to adapt to the changing conditions and make it to Q3. In the final part, we were up against some very quick cars and maybe we had the potential to do a little bit better than this seventh and eighth. Nevertheless, we will start ahead of all our midfield competitors tomorrow, which is important for us in the final qualifying of the season. I hope we can convert today's performance into a lot of points tomorrow."
Charles Pic (19th, 1:26.843): "We made a lot of changes to the car overnight and started FP3 with an installation lap on wets as the track had a lot more water on it than yesterday. About halfway through the session the conditions had improved enough to go out again and we did a seven lap run, again on wets, which gives us more information for tomorrow. With about ten minutes left there was a dry line appearing so we went for the performance run on inters - it was ok but we knew there was more to come for quali. The rain was still falling at the start of qualifying, but not enough for wets so we went out early with the whole pack to maximize our running time on the inters. It was very tricky out there but I'm happy with how it finished. We've had a balance issue for the last three races that we've worked a lot on and this weekend it's come good, so I'm pleased with my final time in Q1. The main aim was to be in front of our nearest rivals and we've done that, keeping in reserve an extra set of intermediates, so we start what could be a fascinating race tomorrow where we'd aimed for and if it keeps raining like this we could have a chance of reclaiming tenth place in the Championship."
Giedo van der Garde (20th, 1:28.320): "FP3 was obviously very wet so we were pretty cautious with the run plan, wanting to make sure we hung on to tires for Sunday, but overall the car felt pretty good on both full wets and inters. We were trying a few diff settings as well and when we switched to inters for the last run it was definitely getting quicker, but I didn't get a completely clean lap so, even with the time we ended up with in the session, I was still positive about what we could do in qualifying. In Q1 we went out immediately on inters but on my fastest lap I made a mistake in sector two which cost me quite a lot of time. The car balance didn't feel great but I think there was still more to come, not enough for Q2 today but now it's all about tomorrow. We've saved a set of inters for tomorrow so we're in good shape with the tires we have available. Our car's good in the wet, I really like this sort of weather and we all know what we have to do. We've been here before, on this track and in these circumstances, so we know what we have to do on Sunday. Honestly, I'm excited about it - it's going to be super tense but that's what this is all about."
Jules Bianchi (21st, 1:28.366): "A very difficult qualifying today. We had to do everything we could early on as we knew the rain was coming, but in the end the window of opportunity was really only one lap. For everything after that it was too wet to improve. I'd made a big mistake at the end of my one quick lap as well, so it's disappointing as I was so close to Van der Garde. So now we just have to be positive for the race and do everything possible to achieve the right result for the Team."
Max Chilton (22nd, 1:28.950): "It was pretty tricky out there today and there were a few hairy moments, that's for sure. We left the pits immediately as the rain was heading in and it was literally a one-lap dash. I was happy with my first and last sectors, even though I had a big moment at turn 3. I struggled a little with the balance but it should be fine tomorrow and that's the day that counts."
John Booth, Team Principal: "Once again Interlagos has treated us to a full day of wet running. Both drivers were happier with the car balance this morning and on the used intermediate tires from yesterday Jules was happier with his pace, Max still needing to find the balance to gain more time. Qualifying was always going to be tricky today and the conditions were changing continuously through the lap. The early laps in the first run were going to be the quickest but neither of our two drivers got a clear shot at this opportunity. We opted to do a second run as we had little to lose. The conditions were such that the Intermediate tire was fully in its working window, however the standing water was significant and we were unable to improve. A disappointing result today but tomorrow is the result that counts and that is what we are focusing on."
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