Vettel overtakes Mansell with 15th pole of season



Sebastian Vettel set a new record for pole positions in Interlagos yesterday, taking a ground-breaking 15th in a season to move ahead of Nigel Mansell whom he equalled in Abu Dhabi. The world championtook his Red Bull round in a scintillating 1min 11.918sec, and just to rub in Red Bull's superiority he was joined on the front row by his team-mate, Mark Webber, still desperate for a win this season.

Jenson Button took third place in his McLaren, happier with its handling than was his partner, Lewis Hamilton, who had to be content with fourth, just ahead of Fernando Alonso's Ferrari. But it remains to be seen who might have compromised their set-ups ahead of the rain that is anticipated this afternoon.

The closeness of the times throughout the three preceding practice sessions had suggested things might be tighter than they turned out, but there's something about Brazil that stopped that being too much of a disappointment as the Red Bulls dominated the McLarens and Ferrari just hung on. Away from the racing, there are concerns about the future of the US Grand Prix as the organisers in Austin, Texas, continue to argue about contract terms with Bernie Ecclestone – surelyan unwise move – and the Bahrainis assess the damage of a bruising independent report into the troubles there.

The news that the Lotus Renault GP financier Vladimir Antonov, also owner of the commercial rights to the FIA World Rally Championship, was served a European Arrest Warrant in London on Thursday caused ripples following the liquidation of Snoras Bank, a sponsor of Renault last year.

The teams continue to argue among themselves over the terms of the Resource Restriction Agreement, which is intended to curb costs, and agreement still seems as distant as the start of the 2012 season.

Yet somehow the troubles matter less here. Interlagos has the worst paddock facilities of any circuit on the calendar, but in that decadence lies a charming charisma. The place is all about racing. And as stars of the past such as Emerson Fittipaldi, Nelson Piquet and Carlos Reutemann were reunited with veteran regulars Sir Jackie Stewart and Niki Lauda, and Jessie J popped eyes with her catsuit attire and Macy Gray's hair caused alarm, things worked here in a way they never do at new venues such as China or Korea. The future might be uncertain, but Formula One has taken warm end-of-term comfort from Interlagos's rich history.

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