2013 Brazilian GP qualy: Sebastian Vettel tames treacherous conditions to take pole
World Champ claims ninth pole of year; Rosberg also on the front-row as Alonso claims third; Webber to start farewell race from fourth
By William Esler
Last Updated: 24/11/13 7:49am
With the middle sector of the Interlagos track remaining extremely treacherous, the World Champion was the only man with the confidence to push through the tight infield section as he took pole by a mighty 0.623 seconds.
Friday's pace setter Nico Rosberg was the man to get closest to his compatriot to make it an all-German frontrow.
"It was a big surprise," Vettel said after the session. "There was a lot of rain after Q2, and once we got out, I was surprised at how much of the water had gone and I got straight onto the intermediates. I was able then to get a very, very good lap in straight away and then tried to beat that to beat that with the second one and was very close. So with both my laps I was very happy and surprised by the margin."
Fernando Alonso was a credible third for Ferrari - his best qualifying result since the Bahrain GP in April, albeit over a second slower than Vettel - and Mark Webber will start fourth for the final race of his F1 career.
Lewis Hamilton will line up in fifth, just ahead of Romain Grosjean who was the first man to switch from wets to inters in the top-ten shootout as Lotus felt more rain would arrive in the final minutes of the session. As it was, that precipitation did not arrive, ensuring the Frenchman had used up the best of his tyres as track conditions continued to improve.
A last-gasp effort from Jean-Eric Vergne saved him from an embarrassing Q1 exit early in the session and he duly made the most of his reprieve to make it through to the final part of qualifying for the first time since Italy. However, he was still behind team-mate Daniel Ricciardo meaning the Australian wins the Toro Rosso head-to-head battle 15-4 this season, highlighting how that single-lap pace is an area Vergne needs to work on next season when he leads the team alongside Daniil Kvyat.
Whilst Grosjean was fighting in Q3, Heikki Kovalainen in the second Lotus went out in the second part of qualifying and will start 11th.
Both McLarens failed to make it into the final part of qualifying - the first time that has happened since Canada - and to round off a deeply disappointing day for the team, Sergio Perez finished the session in the barriers after losing control of his car on the exit of turn five.
"I was giving it my all and I gave it my all knowing it was my last lap and I pushed over the limit because the car was not responding at all," the Mexican admitted.
Jenson Button blamed a lack of tyre temperatures for the lack of pace and rather despondently confessed he was looking forward to getting rid of the MP4-28 at the end of the season.
"We couldn't get any temperatures in the tyres," the 2009 World Champion said. "At least it is nearly over."
At the back of the field, neither Marussia or Caterham could take advantage of the inclement weather to make it into Q2. Both teams queued at the end of the pitlane to get a lap in whilst conditions were at their best, but perhaps a gamble on the slick tyre could have paid off as Marussia CEO Graeme Lowdon admitted: "At the start of the session it was a bit too dry. The inters were overheating."
Esteban Gutierrez failed to get at a time in when it mattered and after his heroics of making it to Q3 in Austin last week also took an early bath, along with Pastor Maldonado who went out in Q1 for the tenth time in 19 races - not the type of record that will impress prospective employers.