Sebastian Vettel blitzed the opposition today to claim a record-breaking 15th pole position of the season ahead of the F1 2011 Brazilian Grand Prix at Interlagos.
The German posted an early banker that put him beyond the reach of the rest of the pack, but emphasised his dominant qualifying form by dropping into the 1min 11secs bracket on his second run. Although the rest then closed in, Vettel remained a tenth clear of anyone else and the only man below the 1m 12s bracket, his best effort a 1min 11.918secs.
Jenson Button, on course for his best Brazilian GP qualifying slot in seven years after actually making the top ten, briefly slotted into second spot, only to be gazumped by Mark Webber in the second Red Bull. The Briton was then joined on row two by his McLaren team-mate Lewis Hamilton, who was last to cross the line, but unable to do anything about the three men ahead of him.
Fernando Alonso had temporarily held a top four slot before Hamilton replied, but held on for fifth for Ferrari, ahead of Nico Rosberg, the German unable to repeat his Q2 form in his Mercedes. His lap from Q2 would have put him just ahead of Alonso.
Felipe Massa was the top Brazilian in seventh, while Adrian Sutil came in eighth for Force India and Massa's fellow countryman and local favourite Bruno Senna - who had managed to save a brand new set of tyres for Q3 – slotted in behind in P9. Seven-time F1 world champion Michael Schumacher also made it through to the top-ten shootout, but while he set some sector times, he didn't actually post a full flying lap. The German will start tenth.
Meanwhile, in Q2, Paul di Resta found himself just on the wrong side of the dividing line, the victim of a late improvement from Schumacher. The Scot had been holding a tenuous tenth place as all bar the top six runners embarked on a second flying run, but was unable to respond as Schumi found enough to move ahead of the Force India. di Resta was still on track but could not improve on his final run, retiring to the pit to lick his wounds.
Rubens Barrichello secured twelfth spot and was pleased with that, especially given 2011 has been far from easy for him or Williams. The Toro Rosso's OF Jaime Alguersuari and Sebastien Buemi filled the next row in 13th and 14th, ahead of Renault's Vitaly Petrov and the Saubers of Kamui Kobayashi and Sergio Perez.
Pastor Maldonado was the 'big name' unable to survive the opening phase of qualifying. The Williams driver, who started on the back row in Abu Dhabi as the result of taking a ninth engine in 2011, bounced in and out of the drop zone before Buemi's late improvement pushed him back into 18th spot. Another flying lap was available to the Venezuelan, but he was unable to improve his position and he joined the six expected casualties in the bottom seven.
Team Lotus' Heikki Kovalainen and Jarno Trulli were condemned to their usual 19th and 20th positions, while HRT got the better of a troubled Marussia Virgin squad, with Tonio Liuzzi and Daniel Ricciardo out-pacing Jerome d'Ambrosio and Timo Glock, after the German complained of a lack of traction and tyre woes.
To see the full times from qualifying for the F1 2011 Brazilian Grand Prix - CLICK HERE