Sebastian Vettel claimed pole position for the Brazilian Grand Prix in a session that was delayed by heavy rain.
Following the final practice session, Q1 started with a damp track. There were visible dry patches at several points around the circuit, with every driver leaving the pits on intermediate tyres. Despite the conditions, it was a relatively quiet session, with Pastor Maldonado and Esteban Gutierrez being eliminated along with the usual suspects.
Charles Pic was the best of the “new” team drivers, ahead of his Caterham team mate, Giedo van der Garde, and the two Marussias of Jules Bianchi and Max Chilton.
Heikki Kovalainen starred to set the fifth fastest time after briefly looking in danger. It was also a good session from Jean Eric Vergne, who was one of very few drivers to improve his time late on. He had looked like dropping out, but despite the ever changing weather, was able to progress to Q2.
At the top of the times, Hamilton had set the fastest time from Vettel and Rosberg, with Nico Hulkenberg completing the top four.
The rain intensified over the duration of the second session. Once more drivers took to the circuit with intermediate tyres. This time it was Romain Grosjean who set the fastest time ahead of Vettel and Alonso. The Mercedes cars of Rosberg and Hamilton were fourth and fifth fastest.
As conditions deteriorated, it began to catch several drivers out. The most notable of which was Sergio Perez, who crashed in the dying moments of Q2, taking the front wing off and damaging two corners on his car. Despite this, he still out qualified team mate Jenson Button, with the two McLarens fourteenth and fifteenth fastest respectively.
Also failing to progress to the top ten were Kovalainen, Di Resta, Bottas and Sutil.
The heavy rain delayed the start of Q3 by over half an hour – but once it did start, all cars took to the track with extreme wet tyres. However, it wasn’t long before drivers were changing to the intermediates, with the first being Romain Grosjean. He took provisional pole away from Vettel, before the Red Bull man obliterated the time with an intermediate tyre lap of his own.
No one was able to get close to Vettel’s lap time, with the four times champion taking pole position by sixth tenths of a second. Joining him on the front row for tomorrow’s race will be Nico Rosberg, with Fernando Alonso, Mark Webber and Lewis Hamilton completing the top five.
Romain Grosjean dropped to sixth ahead of the two Toro Rossos of Daniel Ricciardo and Jean Eric Vergne. Felipe Massa could do no better than ninth at his home circuit, with Interlagos specialist Nico Hulkenberg taking a disappointing tenth.