Vettel Takes the Final Pole of the Season
Sebastian Vettel rounded-off 2011 with a new record for the number of pole positions in one year, although it is fair to say that Nigel Mansell, Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost all had shorter calendars during their qualification dominating seasons. A time of 1 minute 11.918s saw him edge out his team mate in an all-Red Bull front row as Mark Webber tries to avoid finishing the season without a victory. Just behind them, Jenson Button led an all-McLaren second-row.
Vettel set a strong benchmark on his first run in Q3, however with the track improving a second run was always going to be needed to secure the front of the grid and he duly produced the goods with dominant first and second sectors at the heart of his pole position lap – his fifteenth of the season.
After a disappointing season for Renault, Bruno Senna put a smile back on the faces of the team with a run through to Q3 in what will be the outfits last race before becoming Lotus next season. Mercedes will also be pleased to see Nico Rosberg outpace Ferrari’s Felipe Massa giving them a realistic prospect of a strong finish to the year. Will Sauber surrender seventh at the final hurdle?
The key battle remaining in 2011 is the fight for position between Sauber and Toro Rosso with millions in prize money at stake and Round 1 went to Toro Rosso as both cars qualified ahead of their rivals.
No major disasters although all but the Red Bull pairing seem to be hoping for a wet race. However, Virgin appear to be having some problems preserving their tyres and find both cars lining up behind their HRT rivals. The Anglo-Russian outfit were hoping to claw their way off the bottom of the constructors’ standings with just one decent result but it’s now looking like a difficult task.
With the threat of rain around, all predictions may be up in the air although Red Bull’s strong pace in the first and second sectors points to them being the outfit with the downforce to tackle the worst that Brazil can throw at them. One chink in their armour may be their end-of-straight pace – Vettel was third slowest through the speed-trap – which could leave them vulnerable to being overtaken/unable to pass others.
|1. Vettel||Red Bull-Renault||1:11.918|
|2. Webber||Red Bull-Renault||1:12.099|
|8. Sutil||Force India-Mercedes||1:13.298|
|10. Schumacher||Mercedes||No time set|
|Q2 cut-off time:||1:13.571|
|11. di Resta||Force India-Mercedes||1:13.571|
|13. Alguersuari||Toro Rosso-Ferrari||1:13.804|
|14. Buemi||Toro Rosso-Ferrari||1:13.919|
|Q1 cut-off time:||1:14.571|
107% time: 1:18.410
|Sector 1||Sector 2||Sector 3||Speed Trap|
|Vettel||18.239 s||Vettel||36.468 s||Rosberg||17.043 s||Alguersuari||316.2 km/h|
|Hamilton||18.270 s||Webber||36.609 s||Schumacher||17.100 s||Perez||314.4 km/h|
|Alonso||18.317 s||Button||36.764 s||Webber||17.128 s||Kobayashi||314.0 km/h|
What are your predictions for the race? Who will win the season finale? Who should have done better in qualifying? Who will come out on top between Sauber and Toro Rosso?
Photo: Red Bull Racing/Paul Gilham/Getty Images