Rubens Barrichello admitted to having mixed emotions over his qualifying position for the Brazilian Grand Prix at Interlagos this weekend, having come so close to sealing a top ten starting spot in front of his home fans in the last race of the season - only to be knocked out again in the dying seconds.

The Honda star hauled himself up into tenth position with his final Q2 effort - to the evident delight of his thousands of partisan supporters packing the grandstands - but only a matter of seconds later his dream was shattered by Toyota's Jarno Trulli, who popped up into eighth - and popped Rubens back down to eleventh.

"I'm very pleased to have had a stronger weekend so far here at my home race," the 35-year-old veteran remarked afterwards, ahead of his 15th Brazilian Grand Prix, "but at the same time I'm a little disappointed we couldn't make it through to the final qualifying session today.

"The car felt very good this morning, but this afternoon the rear was moving around a little too much so we lost a bit of time there. We got every last bit of performance out of the car today, though, and I think we can have a good race from eleventh."

It nevertheless marks one of Barrichello's strongest starting positions of 2007, what has been a desultory season for him as Honda's RA107 has proved a major disappointment. Should he fail to score in Sao Paolo it will mark the first time he has ended the campaign with no points in his Formula 1 career, but he at least has a better chance of a top eight finish than team-mate Jenson Button, who struggled throughout qualifying en route to 16th position, only missing the Q1 drop by a scant two hundredths of a second.

"Not a great qualifying session for me today," the Briton acknowledged, "which reflects that we have been off the pace pretty much all weekend. The car has a consistent lack of grip, and unfortunately we haven't been able to improve the set-up to overcome this. It will be a tough race from 16th, so we will just have to see what opportunities it presents."

"This morning we were able to work on the car balance in dry conditions on both prime and option tyres," added Honda engineering director Jacky Eeckelaert. "Rubens was immediately pleased with his set-up, while Jenson was unable to find a good balance through the lap.

"In qualifying it was disappointing for Rubens to miss out on a place in Q3 by less than 0.05s, and to find Jenson still struggling with an unpredictable balance. The hotter ambient temperatures in the afternoon affected the car balance a little more than we anticipated, but we will work to find a strategy that gives us the best possible chance in the final race of the season tomorrow."

 

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