Qualifying for the Brazilian Grand Prix may have taken nearly three hours to complete, but Rubens Barrichello wasn't complaining after securing pole position for his home event at Interlagos.

With rain playing havoc with proceedings, the Brawn GP man secured a crucial pole position following a session where both Jenson Button and Sebastian Vettel qualified well down the order.

After a number of lengthy delays, Barrichello sent the crowd into raptures by emerging on top of a dramatic Q3 session to secure pole ahead of Red Bull's Mark Webber, with Adrian Sutil and Jarno Trulli on the second row.

Despite heavy rain, the qualifying session started on time but less than five minutes in, the red flags came out when Giancarlo Fisichella spun exiting the Senna S and lost the engine on his Ferrari, with the restart then being delayed in an effort to allow the conditions to improve.

Although the rain did relent slightly before the session resumed, conditions on track were still far from easy and two of the big names fell at the first hurdle.

Despite being quickest before Fisichella's spin, Vettel was unable to break into the top 15 as the times came down on the restart and could go no quicker than 16th - a performance that leaves him with plenty to do on race day if the Red Bull man is to keep his title hopes alive.

McLaren pair Heikki Kovalainen and Lewis Hamilton also fell at the first hurdle as the team went with a dry set-up on its cars, with Kovalainen 17th and Hamilton down in 18th having also gone off track at turn five after aquaplaning on standing water. Nick Heidfeld and Fisichella also failed to make it through to Q2.

The break before Q2 was then extended in the hope of conditions improving but the cars were eventually released onto the circuit only for Tonio Liuzzi to crash heavily at turn one after losing control of his Force India heading into the braking zone. The incident saw the Italian go into the pitwall before sliding off into the barriers although he escaped uninjured from his wrecked car.

The red flags again returned and the session would be halted for well over an hour as rain continued to fall, with a series of inspections taking place before the cars were cleared to return to action nearly 90 minutes later.

Q2 would see Button make a crucial error as he elected to stay out on circuit on wet tyres while others posted banker laps before pitting to try out intermediate rubber on a drying track.

While the cars around him all went quicker and quicker, Button's gamble failed as he could set only the 14th quickest time; the points leader dropping out at the second stage along with rookie drivers Kamui Kobayashim Jaime Alguersuari and Romain Grosjean.

That set the stage for a dramatic Q3, as continuinely improving conditions saw lap times fall throughout and provisional pole change hands a number of times.

Barrichello held the position twice only to be knocked back to second by Webber - despite the Australian making an error on his fastest lap - but on his final lap of the session, Barrichello posted a time of 1min 19.576secs to secure pole position by a tenth of a second.

Webber had to settle for second place while Sutil took third on his final lap from Trulli - another driver who had twice held provisional pole during the ten-minute - with Kimi Raikkonen fifth and Sebastien Buemi an excellent sixth for Toro Rosso.

Nico Rosberg was seventh, although left to reflect on what might have been after pacing both Q1 and Q2, while Robert Kubica, Kazuki Nakajima and Fernando Alonso completed the top ten.

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