Pole position for the Brazilian Grand Prix secured by Nico Rosberg.
After being under Hamilton’s thumb during Q1 and Q2, Rosberg found the edge in the final qualifying stage to claim his fifth pole in a row. Hamilton himself was chasing pole number 50 but will have to search for his first Brazilian Grand Prix victory from second on the grid.
The start of Q1 was met with silence in the pit lane for the initial minutes before Hulkenberg eventually broke the mould and strolled onto the track. The 2010 Brazilian Grand Prix pole sitter also set the first lap time of qualifying with a 1:13.824. But he was soon pushed right down the board as the benchmark dropped to a 1:11.682 by Hamilton.
Lewis’s time came shortly after Rosberg set the fastest lap of the weekend to that point. Whereas Alonso had yet set a qualifying time as he was forced to pull to the side of the track as the team told him to “stop immediately”. Fernando went on to watch the remainder of Q1 from the side of the track, and at one stage stopped for a spot of sunbathing.
As the penultimate Q1 runs hit the board, drivers left, right and centre were improving their times. One initial improvement came from Romain Grosjean, but after moving up to third he rested in ninth. Two men still behind Romain however were the Brazilians Felipe Massa and Felipe Nasr.
As Massa looked to improve his time, he caught his compatriot at the end of the second sector and was forced to take quick avoiding action. The incident cost Massa his lap as Nasr ended his out-lap, but Massa was at least able to get one last run in – with which he improved.
Unlike Q1, Rosberg broke the silence along with Hamilton from the off in Q2. But once again Nico was slower across the line than his title-winning team-mate. This time by six tenths of a second.
With his first lap in Q2 Vettel managed to split the Mercedes duo as he moved to second and within three tenths of Hamilton’s benchmark. At the time of posting his lap, two men were yet to set a time with one being his team-mate – who then moved into fourth – and the other being the sole remaining Lotus of Grosjean.
As the clocked ticked towards the final minute however, Grosjean suffered a large kick of oversteer which flicked the rear of his Lotus out and heavily black spotted his tyres as he span the car around. Luckily he had enough time to push again but the Frenchman was unable to do more than close the gap to 14th.
Other drivers were also pushing to the death of Q2 with one being Nasr. Felipe crossed the line just before the chequered flag fell to move into 10th. But he was soon nudged down by Verstappen, and unable to find any more time as fellow Brazilian, Massa, now sat on the edge of the drop zone. Massa though survived the drop as Sainz, Perez and the Sauber’s failed to eliminate the Williams driver.
When Q3 engaged, Rosberg once again broke the silence with Hamilton following his team-mate onto the circuit. But unlike in the two previous stages of qualifying, Hamilton was unable to better Rosberg’s time after a small lock up held Lewis back.
Bottas also managed to split the Ferrari’s and claim fourth place with just four hundredths splitting the Finns after their first runs. Five tenths of a second however were splitting the Williams pair as Massa could only take provisional seventh.
With their final runs, Bottas stretched the gap to Raikkonen to six hundredths of a second and cement his place in fourth behind Vettel. He will however drop to seventh on the grid after taking his three-place grid penalty for overtaking under red flags in FP2.
As for the battle for pole, Rosberg stretched his gap to Hamilton as he set two purple sectors and improve by 0.179 seconds. Lewis himself was able to match Rosberg in sector two but he could not beat Nico across the line to claim his 50th Formula One pole.
Rosberg’s success in qualifying for the Brazilian Grand Prix however does mean Nico claims his fifth pole in a row and set a new personal record for consecutive poles.
Behind the Silver Arrows, Bottas and the Ferrari’s came Hulkenberg as the Force India driver took the flag for sixth place. Hulkenberg’s time was also just over a tenth of a second slower than Raikkonen and also nearly a second greater than his Mexican team-mate who was eliminated in Q2.
|20||Alonso||No time set|