Superior McLarens to start 1-2 in Brazil

Lewis Hamilton

Without a doubt McLaren has the best car in F1 right now and Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button proved that all weekend at Interlagos. Hamilton took pole with a time of 1m12.458s, ahead of McLaren teammate Button.

The slower Red Bull's occupy row 2 with Mark Webber third and points leader Sebastian Vettel fourth.

Felipe Massa is fifth in the leading Ferrari, with Pastor Maldonado a sixth for Williams.

Nico Hulkenberg was seventh, but Ferrari's Fernando Alonso is going to need a lot of luck to beat Vettel for the title after qualifying only eighth.

It rained just before qualifying, and the track was still wet enough for intermediates when Q1 qualifying began. It never actually rained during qualifying as predicted and the track was dry for Q2 and Q3, but rain is forecast (90%) for Sunday and it is possible that Alonso has a rain setup on the car. If he does he could have the advantage Sunday. Teams cannot change the cars between qualifying and the race.

Team Quotes

Red Bull-Renault

Mark Webber (3rd, 1:12.581): "We got the most out of that, but it was disappointing not to get onto the front row. I thought the lap would be enough, but we were a tenth off; it's always tight here in qualifying. In the last race of the season it would have been good to get pole, but fair play to McLaren. We don't know what the weather will do tomorrow, and if all of the race laps will be on intermediate or wet tires – we need to plan that some might be on slicks too. You never know what will happen here with the weather."

Sebastian Vettel (4th, 1:12.760): "Q2 was good for us, but I made a mistake on the first lap of Q3 in Turn 4. I was happier with the second lap in Q3, but it wasn't quick enough. I could have done a little bit more, so I'm keen to see the data when I get back and see where I could have improved. We're in good shape and have been quick all weekend, so let's see what we can do in the race – we will try to do our best."

Christian Horner, Sporting Director: "Both our cars on the second row of the grid is a strong result, particularly after the pre-qualifying rain. We navigated ourselves through Q1 and Q2, with Seb going quickest in Q2, and then the McLarens found a bit of extra pace in Q3. However, Mark drove an excellent lap, extracted the maximum out of the car and lines up third, with Sebastian alongside him in fourth. Our focus now turns to the race and if you believe the forecast it's going to be very wet, but our objective now is to maximize the points out from these grid positions."

Cyril Dumont, Renault: "It's not too bad to be P3 and P4, and when you have rain in qualifying it's never easy, so it was good not to make a mistake in Q1. Fortunately, we had a dry Q2 and Q3 session. Now we look forward to the race; hopefully it won't be too wet although that seems to the case. Hopefully we can finish on another high tomorrow."


Lewis Hamilton (1st, 1:12.458): "Pole! What a great feeling! It's been a fantastic weekend so far. We don't yet know for certain what the weather conditions will be like tomorrow, but I hope that both Jenson and I will be able to push for victory. I've usually started from fourth grid position at Interlagos, and it hasn't always given me much success. Before qualifying, I told Martin [Whitmarsh] that I really didn't want to start fourth this time. All in all, I'm very proud and happy that I got pole. Jenson and I are in the best possible starting positions for tomorrow. However, if it's wet, the lead car is the always the first to aquaplane or hit the puddles, so, even if we both get good starts, we'll still need to be cautious. Equally, however, I don't want to drop back at the start because it would then be very difficult to see in all the spray. We haven't had a one-two in a race for quite a long time [Canada 2010], so it would be a great positive for the team if we could achieve it tomorrow. It would be my perfect farewell, in fact."

Jenson Button (2nd, 1:12.513): "It's great for us to both be on the front row, especially as it's Lewis's last grand prix for the Vodafone McLaren Mercedes team. Our car is working very well. I was just half-a-tenth away from pole, and I reckon we both drove very good laps. So, yes, I'm happy with qualifying. From the front row, you always hope you're going to drive a calm and orderly race – but it looks like it's going to rain tomorrow, so that may make things rather less predictable. This race is important for us. Obviously, we're out of contention for the world championships, but this weekend's and last weekend's performances are very encouraging for next year, which will become our focus immediately after tomorrow's race."

Martin Whitmarsh, Team Principal: "Here at Interlagos today, on a track that was slippery when wet at the start of qualifying and then dried out in bright sunshine as the session progressed, Lewis and Jenson both drove superbly, managing the changing conditions with consummate expertise and then nailing super-fast laps in Q3 to line up first and second for tomorrow's Brazilian Grand Prix. They ended up just 0.055s apart, demonstrably the class of the field. It was the 62nd front-row lock-out in McLaren's Formula 1 history, which establishes a new world record of which all at Vodafone McLaren Mercedes are justifiably proud. It was also Lewis's 7th pole of 2012, and Vodafone McLaren Mercedes' 8th. Rain is forecast for tomorrow, and, as we all know, inclement weather always makes the outcome of any motor race that bit harder to predict. But we're now extremely well set, and, come rain or shine, we're delighted that our drivers will both be starting from the very front of the grid. Moreover, Lewis and Jenson are both extremely combative and canny racers, outstandingly adept in the wet, and they're both therefore eminently capable driving to victory tomorrow. We clearly have an extremely quick car, and our long-run performance yesterday would suggest that our race pace is competitive too. Finally, I want to say both 'thank you' and 'well done' to all Vodafone McLaren Mercedes' designers, engineers, technicians and mechanics, not only here at Interlagos and back home in Woking [Surrey, UK] but also in Brixworth [Northamptonshire, UK], where Mercedes AMG HighPerformancePowertrains is based. The Brixworth guys' excellent engine has served us extremely well in 2012, as expected. So, while I'm on the subject, I'm pleased that we've been able to give our good friend Norbert Haug, Vice President of Mercedes-Benz Motorsport, a pole position to celebrate on his 60th birthday."


Felipe Massa (5th, 1:12.987): "I'm not surprised at this position, because it's not as though we can expect a revolution in performance terms in the space of a week. I think I did a good qualifying and, given how the last few races have gone, my chances of making it to the podium are still intact. That will be my objective because I know that, at least under normal circumstances, we are not in with a chance of fighting for the win. I also know that, if I am to have any hopes for the title, it's more plausible to count on a retirement for Vettel rather than for him to finish in a position where I can get ahead of him in the classification. Obviously, I am therefore hoping for a chaotic race and so the rain could be an important factor even if, in the wet, it is riskier for everyone. The car is not particularly set up for the wet, as it's not like it used to be. Felipe in front of me? He did a great qualifying, above the norm, so it's to be expected. It's almost a miracle to have arrived at the last race still in the fight for the title: under normal circumstances I think we would have said goodbye to our chances back in Monza or Singapore. However, here we are, still in the game and we are definitely not going to surrender today."

Fernando Alonso (8th, 1:13.253): "It was a good qualifying: in Q3 I did a perfect lap, the most I could do with what I had. McLaren and Red Bull are quicker than us, but I am very pleased with the balance of my car. Now we must stay focused on the race, which will be anything but easy. Rain is expected and so anything can happen. In these conditions, just making it to the finish will be an achievement. Surprised at my position? Maybe some people might think I've just learned to drive at the age of thirty one, but joking apart, this is a result of the fact that from the mid-season onwards I have found myself ever more comfortable with the car and I have confidence in it to push hard. My approach to this race will be very simple: I will try to do my utmost for my home crowd and for Ferrari. I have a great car, even if it's not the quickest in qualifying, but it is competitive in the race."

Stefano Domenicali, Team Principal: "It's definitely not the result we were hoping for this afternoon, but we have seen on so many occasions this season how the outcome of Saturday does not prove conclusive. That has been the case throughout the season and if you add to that the uncertainty regarding the weather, with rain due to play a part, then we should be contenders. This result more or less reflects our season average so alas, we can't be surprised at the way things went. Now, all we can do is prepare as well as possible for tomorrow, the decisive day of this championship. We know exactly what we have to do: be perfect and ready to make the most of every opportunity. We can promise one thing to our fans, many of who are here packing the grandstands; all of us from first to last will give 120% to reach our objectives: maintaining second place in the Constructors' classification and above all, getting Fernando to take this Drivers' title that he deserves more than any other driver out on track."

Pat Fry: "We can't suddenly expect to find ourselves ahead of Red Bull and McLaren, who have been consistently quicker than us this year in qualifying. We knew we would have to fight for the third row and we managed to get at least one car there thanks to a nice Q3 from Felipe. We did not give Fernando an equally good car in terms of balance and we will have to study the data to see how to improve the situation, within the bounds of possibility, for tomorrow's race. All the forecasts are predicting rain in the coming hours and there's a high chance of having a wet race. We will therefore have to be ready to manage a race that looks like being incident packed, as is the tradition in the Brazilian Grand Prix. Yesterday, over a long run we proved to be competitive, from what one can tell on a Friday, but the conditions will be very different, so it's impossible to make predictions. The task facing us is an arduous one, but we will give it our all!"

Mercedes GP

Nico Rosberg (10th, 1:13.489): "To progress into Q3 and the top 10 in qualifying today was a reasonable achievement for us. Our car set-up was a little compromised due to the race conditions expected tomorrow so we should be in better shape then. You can't change anything after qualifying so I hope we are well prepared and that we have chance to score some good points tomorrow."

Michael Schumacher (14th, 1:14.334): "For obvious reasons, I am not particularly happy about the qualifying session today. We might have compromised the car too much for the rain which is expected for tomorrow and was also forecast for qualifying. When the drops came down just before, it looked even more likely. Anyway, my starting position is now quite tricky, and I will have to see what we can make out of it tomorrow. Of course, coming from where I am does not make it easy, but I will definitely try to fight my way up the field."

Ross Brawn, Team Principal: "The conditions were a little challenging in qualifying after the rain shower, particularly in Q1, but the team handled the situation well. Our results were pretty much what we could have got out of the car today with the current level of performance. It's so tight in the midfield that a couple of tenths make a big difference and Michael got caught on the wrong side of that in Q2. However we know what a racer he is and, with the difficult conditions predicted, we should see his talents come to the fore. I'm optimistic that we'll be in better shape for the race with the car that we have."

Norbert Haug, Mercedes Motorsport Director: "Much more was not possible today. Probably like our competitors, we took the weather forecast for tomorrow into account setting up our cars for today's qualifying. Of course I would have wished for Michael to make it into the top 10 like Nico in his last Formula One qualifying session but hopefully this will be the case in tomorrow's race. Well done to Lewis, Jenson and Vodafone McLaren Mercedes for their front row lock out in a thrilling Q3 session today."


Kimi Raikkonen (9th, 1:13.298):

Romain Grosjean (18th, 1:16.967):

Eric Boullier, Team Principal:

James Allison, Technical Director:

Alan Permane, Chief Race Engineer:

Riccardo Penteado, Engine Support Leader:

Force India-Mercedes

Nico Hulkenberg (7th, 1:13.206): "It was an entertaining qualifying hour and it actually reminded me of 2010 with the rain shower just before the session. The track dried up quite quickly and the car felt good – we definitely improved it more between practice and qualifying. So seventh place is not too bad and is probably about what we were expecting. For tomorrow we are in good shape: I've got quite a neutral set-up so we can cope with whatever weather we get. It's always a tough race, quite physical, and there are some fast cars around us, but we should have the pace to race strongly."

Paul di Resta (11th, 1:14.121): "I was very happy with the car this morning and so we didn't change anything before qualifying. However, the track went away from us during qualifying, probably because of the rain shower, and I didn't feel quite as comfortable as this morning. Q1 was quite straightforward and we looked strong in Q2, but my quickest lap was compromised slightly by traffic with Kobayashi recovering onto the track. I think that made the difference between making the top ten. I tried to do another lap, but I had used the best of the tires. I think P11 still puts in a reasonable position to do something tomorrow. We have the choice on tires, but obviously it depends on what the weather does."

Robert Fernley, Deputy Team Principal: "We looked competitive in the lead up to qualifying and knew we had a good chance of getting both cars into Q3. The rain shower shortly before the session added some excitement to Q1 and it turned out to be a fairly frantic 20 minutes. By the time Q2 got underway the track was pretty much dry, but with conditions improving all the time it was important to run a lot of laps and be on track at the end of the session. Paul was a tenth away from making Q3, but Nico was able to match the pace he showed in final practice and made the cut. Seventh place is a fair reflection of our competitiveness and should allow us to end the season on a positive note."


Sergio Perez (13th, 1:14.234): "My fastest lap was really okay and, therefore, I think our position pretty much reflects what is possible with the car. When the track was damp at the beginning of qualifying we were quite competitive. But later when it was completely dry we lost positions. Nevertheless I still hope to get a good result tomorrow in what will be my final race for Sauber."

Kamui Kobayashi (15th, 1:14.380): "My fastest lap wasn't a perfect one because the warm up of the tires wasn't perfect. I lost a bit of the tires' potential there. I think in damp conditions we would have had a chance to make Q3, but not on a dry track. I actually hope we will get some rain for tomorrow's race and so make the right calls then."

Monisha Kaltenborn, Team Principal: "We have made some progress since yesterday, but in the end it was not enough, although the drivers did a good job. However, there is a chance of rain tomorrow, and we made some compromises towards that direction. We now hope this will pay off in the race."

Giampaolo Dall'Ara, Head of Track Engineering: "Overall it was a better day than yesterday. We made some progress with the car's balance and the grip. Based on this we expected more from qualifying, but we have to accept where we are. In dry conditions it will not be easy to make up a lot of ground in the race, but in case of rain anything can happen."

Toro Rosso-Ferrari

Daniel Ricciardo (16th, 1:14.574): "Today, we ran at more or less the same pace we had since the start of Friday. When the rain came just at the start, I was hoping it would stay, as I feel we have a better chance in the wet. In fact, given the forecast, that's the reason, I've opted for a set-up that will favor those conditions tomorrow. This afternoon was mostly a battle with my team-mate and I don't think I could have got any further up the order. If our bet pays off and it does rain, then we can definitely fight for some points tomorrow."

Jean-Eric Vergne (17th, 1:14.619): "It wasn't too bad, given that I had struggled to find the best set-up since yesterday. In qualifying, the car was the best it has been all weekend. Maybe I could have been a tiny bit faster, even if I did not make any mistakes, but probably not enough to improve my position. Our car definitely felt better when the track conditions were cooler, which is encouraging for tomorrow when we can expect it to be even cooler and wet at times. I feel we can have a good race tomorrow and be opportunistic if the rain comes. We will try everything, we have nothing to lose and I want to finish my first season with a good result."

Laurent Mekies, Chief Engineer: "It was an entertaining Q1 with changeable conditions as the track was damp at first in some parts of the circuit. Both our drivers managed to make the cut into Q2, even if it was very tight in terms of lap time. By the time we started Q2, we were back to the usual dry track. Unfortunately, in these conditions we are trailing behind the other mid-field runners, even if the gap to those directly ahead is actually quite small. Tomorrow, we are expecting very changeable weather during the race and we feel we will find better race pace, especially in the wet. There are some cars not too far ahead of us and we have seen in nearly all the past races when we have started behind them, that we have managed to get ahead and score points by the end of the afternoon. It's bound to be an exciting race as always here, in which anything can happen and we must be ready to grab any opportunity that comes our way."


Pastor Maldonado (6th, 1:13.174): "I'm happy with the qualifying result today. Q1 was a bit close at the end because of the traffic, but the car felt good. It was very consistent and quick which meant we were able to push hard in the top 10. We have continued the form from the last few races, so things are looking good for the team in this race."

Bruno Senna (12th, 1:14.219): "We were optimistic of getting into Q3 today, but unfortunately as the weather got hotter it wasn't the best conditions for the car, and we were doing slower lap times than this morning's practice session. We made a few decisions before qualifying based on the fact that we were expecting the track to be a bit cooler, but ultimately that wasn't the case. P12 isn't a bad position to start in at Interlagos though, so we're in a good position to score points tomorrow."

Mark Gillan, Chief Operations Engineer: "Having struggled a bit yesterday, we worked hard overnight to adapt the car balance for qualifying whilst keeping a watchful eye on the likely wet race conditions. Both drivers were much happier with the car balance today and drove very well in the initial damp green track conditions in Q1. Bruno was ultimately unlucky not to proceed into Q3 and Pastor had a very good session finishing in a strong P6. The forecast predicts heavy overnight rain and we look forward to what will no doubt be a very eventful race."


Vitaly Petrov (19th, 1:17.073): "I'm very pleased with the result today. It wasn't quite enough to get into Q2 but in the conditions today I think we can be happy with where we ended up. On the first couple of laps turn four was completely wet so I had to make sure we could maintain tire temperatures and keep pushing throughout the whole lap until the dry line appeared and in the end it paid off. Tomorrow's going to be really interesting – we showed yesterday and today that the gap to the cars ahead is a bit closer here than it has been in recent races and the way the weather's been shifting around means anything can happen in the race. I'm looking forward to it – whatever happens it's going to be really good for the fans and I hope we can end the season positively."

Heikki Kovalainen (20th, 1:17.086): "At the start of qualifying it was quite tricky as there was some standing water on track in the first couple of laps and even though the grip levels improved there was still less grip than in FP3. In the end the times kept coming down and maybe we had a chance to get into Q2, but we can be reasonably happy with how it finished. On my final lap I made a couple of small mistakes, but apart from that I was close to getting as much as I could out of the car so now we move on to tomorrow. The race is going to be really tight – if the forecasts are right it will be pretty tense out there but we know what to do and we're looking forward to it."


Narain Karthikeyan (23rd, 1:19.576): "This morning we did a good job with the car and the fact that the track temperature was lower than yesterday also helped in reducing the tire degradation. But before qualifying it started raining and we were not sure whether to go out on intermediate tires or slicks. Even though the track was still damp, we finally decided to go out on the slicks and, although it was difficult at the beginning, it was the right thing to do. We struggled to generate enough tire temperature but I am quite satisfied of how it went overall. For tomorrow, I would prefer the race to be a wet one but whatever the conditions will be, we'll try our best as we have always done."

Pedro de la Rosa (24th, 1:19.699): "The track was damp when we went out but we decided to go for the dry strategy because the dry line would come up pretty quickly. The first laps were a bit tricky but it improved a lot towards the end. However, I'm not happy with how qualifying ended. Our car was competitive and we certainly could have done better but I was on a flying lap when I was hit by another car. It was a dangerous maneuver because I couldn't move aside given the track conditions. As a consequence of the impact, the rear suspension bent and also punctured the rear tire. I went back in for a new set of mediums and fortunately managed to put in one more lap improving my time. I really hope the car is not badly damaged because the race is tomorrow and I want to be able to do my best here in order to finish the season on a good note."

Toni Cuquerella, Technical Director: "Weather conditions turned the qualifying session into a gamble. Despite the track was damp, we decided to go for the dry tires. The track was improving lap by lap and it was important to stay out until the end. Narain did a good job and so did Pedro given the circumstances. Unfortunately, he was hit by another car at one of the most dangerous parts of the track and it is even worse considering the track conditions. The rear suspension of his car got damaged but we can fix it for tomorrow. We have different strategies planned for the race but everything will depend on the weather. It seems it'll rain in the morning and dry out during the race but we will have to be ready for whatever happens."


Timo Glock (21st, 1:17.508): "It was quite an unusual qualifying today, but very good fun. In the first couple of laps, when it was very slippery out on track in a couple of corners, I simply made the most of it and was quicker than the guys around me. We came in for a fresh set of tires, by which time the track was drying out quite a lot. On my second run I struggled with the first couple of laps but my third was good and I got a reasonable lap together. There was only so much we could do versus the cars we are fighting with as their KERS advantage up the hill was obvious, so with that in mind we have to be pleased with how well we performed relative to them. Unfortunately we ran out of time to complete one more lap, which I'm sure would have seen us keep improving. As for tomorrow, bit of an unknown because of the weather and how the car will perform in those conditions. It should be a very exciting day for the fans though."

Charles Pic (22nd, 1:18.104): "This is another new track for me and I was happy with our pace in FP3 this morning. Unfortunately the track conditions changed a lot for qualifying and the circuit was quite wet in some corners and completely dry in others. This experience was useful and I have learned a lot from it, which will help for the future. For tomorrow the weather looks uncertain so it will be quite challenging."

John Booth, Team Principal: "Both cars progressed well in FP3 this morning and it was pleasing to see that the balance had improved on both cars relative to the rather more difficult handling we experienced yesterday. It was clear that track temperature played a part in this, with the more overcast conditions, and in general both drivers ended FP3 in reasonable shape. The rain 30 minutes before qualifying obviously meant that the team really had to think on their feet and we're happy with the run profile we did in qualifying. Unfortunately, with Timo we missed being able to achieve another lap by a matter of seconds. That said, our positions today are in line with our expectations. The weather forecast for tomorrow is clearly for more rain. Whilst this will make for an interesting and challenging race for the team, I believe that both drivers will very much be in a position to fight for whatever opportunity presents itself."


Pos Driver Team Time Behind
1. Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1m12.458s +0.000s
2. Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1m12.513s +0.055s
3. Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault 1m12.581s +0.123s
4. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault 1m12.760s +0.302s
5. Felipe Massa Ferrari 1m12.987s +0.529s
6. Pastor Maldonado Williams-Renault 1m13.174s +0.716s
7. Nico Hulkenberg Force India-Mercedes 1m13.206s +0.748s
8. Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1m13.253s +0.795s
9. Kimi Raikkonen Lotus-Renault 1m13.298s +0.840s
10. Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1m13.489s +1.031s
11. Paul di Resta Force India-Mercedes 1m14.121s +0.912s
12. Bruno Senna Williams-Renault 1m14.219s +1.010s
13. Sergio Perez Sauber-Ferrari 1m14.234s +1.025s
14. Michael Schumacher Mercedes 1m14.334s +1.125s
15. Kamui Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari 1m14.380s +1.171s
16. Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m14.574s +1.365s
17. Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m14.619s +1.410s
18. Romain Grosjean Lotus-Renault 1m16.967s +1.892s
19. Vitaly Petrov Caterham-Renault 1m17.073s +1.998s
20. Heikki Kovalainen Caterham-Renault 1m17.086s +2.011s
21. Timo Glock Marussia-Cosworth 1m17.508s +2.433s
22. Charles Pic Marussia-Cosworth 1m18.104s +3.029s
23. Narain Karthikeyan HRT-Cosworth 1m19.576s +4.501s
24. Pedro de la Rosa HRT-Cosworth 1m19.699s +4.624s

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