Nobody, apart from Mark Webber, has really been able to unsettle Sebastian Vettel in the past eight races, but in Interlagos the weather gods gave it their best try as the final session of qualifying was delayed by torrential rain. Vettel, however, remained their favoured one as he took his 45th pole position comfortably.
“I was surprised by how much the water had gone when the session finally started,” said Vettel, “so we quickly switched from full wet tyres to intermediates and the car felt fantastic. It was a good lap.” Nico Rosberg, second on the grid in his Mercedes, said: “I’m surprised by the gap to Sebastian [0.623sec]. It’s very big.”
Third on the grid, a further 0.437sec behind, was unfamiliar territory for Fernando Alonso and Ferrari this season, and the Spaniard confessed to mixed feelings. “We know that in wet conditions we improve a little bit our performance. I’m happy to be so far up the grid, but I wasn’t totally happy with my lap. I lost a lot of time... second place shouldn’t have been difficult.”
Lewis Hamilton lines up fifth for Mercedes, behind Mark Webber, Vettel’s team-mate. “I said yesterday that there would be no hope for me if the race is wet,” Hamilton said, “but we did some work on the car and it felt a little better today.”
The driver and constructor’s titles have long been settled in favour of Vettel and Red Bull, but there is still much at stake in this final race of the 2.4-litre V8 era. With eight consecutive victories behind him, Vettel can match the legendary Alberto Ascari’s unique feat of nine straight wins over the 1952-53 seasons.
In his 215th and final grand prix, Webber desperately wants to sign off with a 10th success. But from fourth position on the grid, the chances of that happening seem remote.