Hamilton delivers pole for McLaren in his final qualifying session for the team

24 November, 2012

Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren MP4-27 locks up. Formula One World Championship, Rd20 Brazilian Grand Prix, Practice, Sao Paulo, Brazil, 23 November 2012.

Lewis Hamilton will start the Brazilian GP from pole position

Nov.24 (GP247) Lewis Hamilton has been adamant that he wants to leave McLaren on a high and he is doing the business at the Brazilian Grand Prix as he stormed around the Interlagos circuit to claim top spot on the grid for the race.

(L to R): Mark Webber (AUS) Red Bull Racing, pole sitter Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren ands Jenson Button (GBR) McLaren in parc ferme. Formula One World Championship, Rd20 Brazilian Grand Prix, Qualifying, Sao Paulo, Brazil, 24 November 2012.Jenson Button made it double joy for the Woking squad with the second best time, making it the 62nd time that Mclaren have started 1-2 on the grid which is a record in Formula One.

It is proving to be a swansong weekend for Hamilton who moves to Mercedes for 2013. The 2008 world champion has never won in Brazil, and along with his teammate, reliability permitting, he looks a fair bet for top honours come Sunday afternoon.

Hamilton’s time of 1 minute 12. 4588 seconds was 0.055 seconds up on Buttons best.

It has been an emotional few days for Hamilton, who has dealt with it in the best way possible this far. He said after qualifying, “It has been a good weekend so far. I am grateful to be able to put the car on the front row and to have had my last qualifying [session] with McLaren as a one-two, it is a fantastic job by the team and I hope we can turn it into something positive tomorrow.”

Jenson Button (GBR) McLaren MP4-27. Formula One World Championship, Rd20 Brazilian Grand Prix, Qualifying, Sao Paulo, Brazil, 24 November 2012.“I think the weather will be tricky tomorrow, it will make it more of a lottery. We’ve put ourselves in a really good position to do the best job we can do. We need to work together as a team. We’ll make sure we do absolutely everything to get the job done. What a great feeling it is. What a great weekend so far and I hope we can push tomorrow. It is great to be one-two with Jenson Button. I am expecting a difficult race. I am very proud and happy [that] I have pole,” added Hamilton who will be targeting his 22nd grand prix win, all with McLaren, in Brazil.

A 1-2 in the race for McLaren on race day will ensure they leap-frog Ferrari to take second place in the constructors’ championship, which would mean a healthy dollop of extra prize cash for the honour of finishing second to newly crowned champions Red Bull.

Button mused, “It is a great day for us. It is Lewis’s last pole for the team. It is big for us and important [that] we are on the front row together. It shows we are strong as a team and it is a pity that will change, but things change. It is tough to drive here in the wet, you get a lot of rivers on the hill. Lewis and I will have some fun because there are two people with more pressure than us. We both want to win, that is the way it is. We are not fighting for the championship so we will fight for the win. It is the best qualifying we have had here so I am looking forward to it.”

Mark Webber Red Bull, Rd20 Brazilian Grand Prix, Qualifying, Sao Paulo, Brazil, 24 November 2012.Best of the rest, at the end of Q3, was last year’s winner Mark Webber in the Red Bull, who took the battle to McLaren and ended up only 0.068 slower than Button. The Australian, in turn, was 0.179 seconds up on his title contending teammate Sebastian Vettel – very little separating the pace setting quartet at the sharp end of proceedings.

When asked in the post-qualifying press conference how he would help teammate Vettel in his title quest, Webber was forthright, “We focus on ourselves tomorrow, and I will do the cleanest race I can. I will be focused 100% on my own cockpit an do the best race as possible.”

For Vettel the man he has to cover is Fernando Alonso and he did that quite comfortably as the Spaniard could only manage the eighth best time, but a ten place grid penalty for Pastor Maldonado promotes the Ferrari to seventh on the grid.

Sebastian Vettel (GER) Red Bull Racing RB8. Formula One World Championship, Rd20 Brazilian Grand Prix, Qualifying, Sao Paulo, Brazil, 24 November 2012.Vettel spoke afterwards, “Q3 was not 100% perfect. It was not quick enough and I know I could have done a little better. I am keen to go back and look at the data and see where I was not quick enough. All in all we are in good shape and we have been competitive and we will see what we can do tomorrow.”

Alonso has it all to do and is definitely on the back foot  for the title deciding showdown. In dry conditions the Red Bulls appear to have the edge and with 13 points advantage Vettel has a good amount of leeway, even if conditions (namely the expected rain) turn in favour of Ferrari.

As is his custom, Alonso refused to see the downside when he spoke to media after the session,  “Ninth in USA and eighth here so more or less as I expected. I will try to achieve the podiums which we achieved in Abu Dhabi and Austin … from those positions. No big changes in our race. F1 is dominated by aerodynamics. We ran with maximum downforce in dry and same in the wet so big changes today, no gamble. It is minimum changes.”

Fernando Alonso (ESP) Ferrari F2012 locks up under braking. Formula One World Championship, Rd20 Brazilian Grand Prix, Qualifying, Sao Paulo, Brazil, 24 November 2012.

He added, “It’s going to be tough tomorrow but everything is still possible. We’ve seen many times this year a race better than qualifying.”

Rising to the occasion on home soil was Felipe Massa, who has had the upper hand this weekend in the Maranello camp, out qualifying his team mate with fifth place on the timing sheets as he did in Texas a week earlier.

“I feel very happy. It was a great performance. With how quick McLaren and Red Bull were it was impossible to do better than I did. Now we must concentrate on the race, I will try everything I can tomorrow. I don’t know the weather but everyone says it will be wet. We know Interlagos and that anything can happen. The only thing I need to do is concentrate on my own race in front of my own people. I hope I can do a good job tomorrow in front of my people,” said Massa.

The final qualifying session of the season started with about half the track wet and slippery from a rain shower that struck Interlagos, with drivers who ventured out in the first ten minutes of Q1 struggling for grip. Intermediates were not up for the job, thus it was slicks on a very fine line between traction and slithering off.

Romain Grosjean (FRA) Lotus E20 with broken front wing. Formula One World Championship, Rd20 Brazilian Grand Prix, Qualifying, Sao Paulo, Brazil, 24 November 2012.Perhaps it was the conditions, perhaps not, but drama struck in Q1 when Romain Grosjean tried to squeeze his Lotus between Pedro de la Rosa’s HRT and the Armco barrier at the fast right hand sweep where the entry to the pitlane starts, where everyone has the pedal to the metal.

De la Rosa was unsighted as the Lotus clipped the back end of the HRT, clearly Grosjean chose the wrong option in place where no one overtakes.

The Spanish veteran gave his version of the skirmish, “Not much I can say really, I was driving on the only dry line on the track. I was keeping the four wheels on the dry line and then suddenly I felt someone hit me on the rear left tyre. I don’t understand how someone can overtake there.”

Grosjean, who can be blisteringly quick but continues to tarnish his reputation with incidents such as these, explained, “Not much to say unfortunately. I was behind Pedro for the whole lap, he had blue flags. I went to overtake him and I don’t think he saw me, I braked as much as I could but we made contact. In those colder conditions it was difficult to get the tyres up to temperature for the final lap.”

Pastor Maldonado (VEN) Williams FW34. Formula One World Championship, Rd20 Brazilian Grand Prix, Qualifying, Sao Paulo, Brazil, 24 November 2012.However, by the end of the session the sun poked out, dried the track and hence times tumbled to the lowest they had been since the morning session on Friday.

After three relatively subdued free practice sessions where he worked with his Williams team on optimising setup for qualifying and the race, Maldonado emerged to claim the sixth fastest time after another impressive qualifying performance.

But it all came to nil a few hours later he was penalised and dropped ten grid spots for missing a call to the weigh bridge and thus receiving his third stewards reprimand of the season.

His team mate Bruno Senna, was second fastest in Q1 but failed to make it beyond Q2 for the 19th time in 20 attempts. He was 12th fastest.

Also impressing was 2010 pole winner Nico Hulkenberg who again got the best out of his Force India with the seventh best time in his last qualifying outing for the Silverstone based team. Paul di Resta, did not make it into Q3 and will start 11th.

Ninth fastest was Kimi Raikkonen, who did well to recover from engine failure a couple of hours earlier during FP3, but in truth the Enstone boys have been missing a trick or two since the Iceman scored his popular victory in Abu Dhabi earlier this month.

Michael Schumacher (GER) Mercedes AMG F1 W03. Formula One World Championship, Rd20 Brazilian Grand Prix, Qualifying, Sao Paulo, Brazil, 24 November 2012.Nico Rosberg rounded out the top ten in his Mercedes, while his retiring teammate Michael Schumacher failed to make it beyond Q2 in his final qualifying and will start his last grand prix from 13th on the grid.

Although McLaren have stolen the limelight thus far, and have set the scene for what could be a 1-2, the real deal is the battle for the biggest prize in motorsport – the 2012 FIA Formula One World Drivers’ Championship title – between Vettel and Alonso.

The momentum in Brazil, and probably since Singapore, has swung the way of the German in the blue car, but the Spaniard in the red car is giving it his best shot despite the odds and when the chequered flag drops it will be one of the two who will have become F1 world champion for a third time.

Red Bull’s Vettel is 13 points ahead of Alonso and these are the permutations:

  • Vettel need finish only fourth to be champion even if the Ferrari driver wins.
  • Vettel can be champion before the race is finished if Alonso crashes out or retires at any point.
  • Vettel has won five races so far this season to Alonso’s three, which means that a tie on points will hand the title to the German on race wins.
  • Alonso must score at least 14 points if he is to be champion, which means he has to finish on the podium even if Vettel draws a blank.
  • Vettel Wins if he finishes in top four.
  • Vettel will be champion if he finishes seventh or higher and Alonso does not win.
  • Ninth place will do for Vettel if Alonso is no higher than third.
  • Alonso must finish on the podium to have a chance.

Subbed by AJN.

Brazilian Grand Prix Qualifying, Interlagos – 24 November 2012

Pos No Driver Team Q1 Q2 Q3 Laps
1 4 Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1:15.075 1:13.398 1:12.458 21
2 3 Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1:15.456 1:13.515 1:12.513 20
3 2 Mark Webber Red Bull Racing-Renault 1:16.180 1:13.667 1:12.581 22
4 1 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull Racing-Renault 1:15.644 1:13.209 1:12.760 19
5 6 Felipe Massa Ferrari 1:16.263 1:14.048 1:12.987 25
6 18 Pastor Maldonado Williams-Renault 1:16.266 1:13.698 1:13.174 24
7 12 Nico Hulkenberg Force India-Mercedes 1:15.536 1:13.704 1:13.206
8 5 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1:16.097 1:13.856 1:13.253
9 9 Kimi Räikkönen Lotus-Renault 1:16.432 1:13.698 1:13.298
10 8 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:15.929 1:13.848 1:13.489
11 11 Paul di Resta Force India-Mercedes 1:15.901 1:14.121
12 19 Bruno Senna Williams-Renault 1:15.333 1:14.219
13 15 Sergio Perez Sauber-Ferrari 1:15.974 1:14.234
14 7 Michael Schumacher Mercedes 1:16.005 1:14.334
15 14 Kamui Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari 1:16.400 1:14.380
16 16 Daniel Ricciardo STR-Ferrari 1:16.744 1:14.574
17 17 Jean-Eric Vergne STR-Ferrari 1:16.722 1:14.619
18 10 Romain Grosjean Lotus-Renault 1:16.967
19 21 Vitaly Petrov Caterham-Renault 1:17.073
20 20 Heikki Kovalainen Caterham-Renault 1:17.086
21 24 Timo Glock Marussia-Cosworth 1:17.508
22 25 Charles Pic Marussia-Cosworth 1:18.104
23 23 Narain Karthikeyan HRT-Cosworth 1:19.576
24 22 Pedro de la Rosa HRT-Cosworth 1:19.699
Q1 107% Time 1:20.330

Note: Maldonado dropped 10 grid spots after missing a call to the weigh bridge and thus receiving his third stewards reprimand of the season


  • hillside

    Massa should win this easy if he turns off his radio

  • Alonso_is_slow

    Massa cannot win, his Alonso-branded gearbox looks to have another failure:)

  • jl

    Ferrari repeat the same strategy? Massa outclass alonso again, i want to see next year.

  • jl

    Today it’s mclaren the fastest on track, 1-2 is the proof.

  • Butterfly

    Maldonado failed to go to scrutineering. He could drop down the order.

    Car no 5 will fly tomorow in the wet.

    @jl:

    It will look like this year, except for Massa getting a fresh contract.

    @Alonso_is_slow:

    Massa is a loser by construction.

  • Alonso_is_slow

    Mclaren was the fastest car overall this year. Looks like it takes more than Adrian Newey to win a title – there must be someone else as well fighting with Alonso?

  • Venezia

    Lol they might change massa the good dog’s engine! Lulu savors the swan song for mclaren for he knows he can’t win in crappy merc next year and that he will or is starting to regret the move already! If he performs well in the merc thanks to the Schumeister’s efforts!

  • Speedo

    Awesome drive to pole by Lewis as he has been during practise along with Jenson locking out the front row. The greater pleasure was to think of the haters squirming at this result. @Alonso is slow have you been watching the races throughout this season. McLaren were good the first 3 races and then fell off till they came back stronger after the summer break and then they had reliability problems. It is Lewis who brought in the results just as Alonso did with the Ferrari. The Red Bulls have been fast and Newey made them even faster since Singapore locking out the front row. It is Lewis’ driving that has kept the McLaren in contention. For comparison take Button in the other McLaren. @Venezia you make idiotic suggestion by saying if Lewis performs well next year in the Merc it is thanks to Schumakers efforts. Then how come he has not performed this year and even in this race he came in 14th while his team mate Rosberg qualified P10. By the way Schumi way down at 15th position in the standings. Give credit where it is due, do not grudge it. It is Lewis who spices F1. Lewis, Jenson, Alonso and Vettel are good drivers in the wet. I hope it rains to spice thing up as we have been having races in the dry conditions for too long. May the best man win the WDC.

  • f1 fan

    This is soo bad !!! ::: this season will end tomorrow , and then no more Formula one to watch for 4 months ,, sooo sad!

  • Butterfly

    @Speedo:

    McLaren had a championship-winning car on their hands. It started strong and ended strong.

  • Butterfly

    @f1 fan:

    Well, the’re plenty of car launches in February, then testing. Come on, it’s not so bad.

    It’s just the winter period.

  • Venezia

    @speedo mind your own business! Because merc is crappy.

  • Venezia

    @speedo lulus efforts next year will benefit him from schumeister’s efforts with the 2013 car. So I am giving credit where it is due and not to merc! Your the one who idiotically grudges it! Mind your own freaking comments!

  • Butterfly

    By far, the most important thing that happened today at Ferrari has to be Stefano Domenicali having the b@lls to say “Fernando deserves the title more than any other driver on the grid.”

    I mean, here is a guy that couldn’t get on the radio in Germany 2010 to tell Felipe to move over. What has happened to you, Stefano, I barely recognize you.

    Scuderia Ferrari – Gives You B@lls

  • McHare

    Can’t see past a McLaren 1,2 and the Bulls bringing home those big slices of Bacon in the shape of the WDC. Most importantly… We don’t want to the championship decided by external effect eh Phillipi!

  • Lauda Fan

    Hamy always rises to the top when there is no pressure and he’s nothing to lose. If Hamy was in a position to win the title this weekend (and he should be as the McLaren’s been an excellent car all year long) we’d see him succumbing to the incredible stress that F1 brings on a driver. Sure he’s on pole but there’s no heat on the guy at all…short of the ferocious Brazilian sun.

  • JPSmoove

    @Lauda Fan. So tell me what happened in 08′? And if what you say is true why go to Mercedes when McLaren clearly will have the better car next year. Your a numbnut…..Happy Holidays!

  • Venezia

    Hammy lulu will regret that move. If vettel also wrongly decides to go to Ferrari which I hope he won’t red bull would lure hammy or Alonso.

  • Butterfly

    Come on, guys, it’s the final race of the season, the title decider, Schumacher’s last ever race, Hamilton’s last lace for McLaren.

    There’s a lot to look up to today. Let’s enjoy it all and cut the crap. :-)

    This day is part of F1 history and you’re all watching it.

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