There is only one word for the final qualifying session in Brazil and that was tight. The top ten were covered by only a second and vitally Lewis Hamilton lost pole to his teammate Nico Rosberg by only three hundredths of a second. Home favourite Felipe Massa also shined by beating his Williams teammate Valtteri Bottas by only six hundredths of a second to round off a top three separated by only two tenths.
It was apparent from the very start of Q1 that it was going to be a tight fight as the Mercedes cars went out on the softer, and subsequently faster, tyres straight away to secure their progression through to Q2.
At the start of the session Fernando Alonso was heard on the radio complaining to the Ferrari team he is expected to depart at the end o f the season, after he was sent out on a flying lap with no battery charge which allowed him to be passed by a Lotus on the track.
Among the high ranking names that were made to sweat as the session came to a close was Sebastian Vettel in thirteenth place as the two Sauber cars managed to squeeze their way through at the expense of the Lotus’s of Grosjean and Maldonado, Jean-Eric-Vergne’s Torro Rosso, who was complaining of understeer, and Sergio Perez’s Force India who will also receive a seven place grid penalty after being deemed to have caused an accident in Austin.
In the second qualifying session the success Sauber had experienced in Q1 seemed to be undone as Adrian Sutil ran wide onto the grass at Junção and was unable to find a way through to the top ten shoot out.
Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg was also unable to re-enact his previous fantastic performances at a track of which he gained pole position in 2010 to put at least one Force India through to the final session after his teammate Perez was unable to get past Q1.
McLaren decided to risk not sending Button out for another lap in Q2 as they deemed him to be safe with Fernando Alonso and Kimi Raikkonen unable to go faster than him.
Meanwhile Daniel Ricciardo had to put in a good lap with only thirty seconds to go to get out of the bottom four. Daniil Kyvat also decided not to go out as he had a seven place rid penalty left over from Austin for a component change.
Going into Q3 the momentum well and truly appeared to be with Rosberg who had been fastest in every single session that weekend, with Felipe Massa sneaking past Hamilton in Q2 and receiving standing ovation from the home crowd for his efforts.
The Williams cars looked genuinely threatening to the Mercedes duo as Felipe Massa and Valtteri Bottas stayed within a tenth of a second until the last flying laps by the Mercedes drivers despite a lock up on Bottas’ first flying lap.
Kimi Raikkonen’s decision to go out early did not appear to work in his favour as he fell to tenth and his teammate Fernando Alonso secured eighth in the dying moments of the session.
A slight a lock up on Hamilton’s flying lap caused him to lose pole by the smallest of margins 0.033 of a second. Felipe Massa was unable to join the battle for pole due to a slow middle sector which caused him to abandon his last lap.
Going into the race Rosberg looked a dominant force as he aimed to reignite his chances of adding a world championship to his pole position trophy.
Top Ten Classification:
- Rosberg Mercedes 1.10.023
- Hamilton Mercedes +0.033
- Massa Williams +0.224
- Bottas Williams +0.282
- Button McLaren +0.907
- Vettel Red Bull +0.915
- Magnussen McLaren +0.946
- Alonso Ferrari +0.954
- Ricciardo Red Bull +1.052
- Raikkonen Ferrari +1.076