Vettel qualifies fourth, Alonso eighth for Brazilian GP
Sao Paulo, Brazil (Sports Network) - Lewis Hamilton won the pole position, while current Formula One points leader Sebastian Vettel qualified fourth and title contender Fernando Alonso eighth for Sunday's season-ending Brazilian Grand Prix.
Hamilton, who is making his last start with McLaren before moving over to Mercedes for next season, turned a lap around the 2.677-mile Interlagos circuit in 1 minute, 12.458 seconds for his seventh pole of the season and the 26th of his F1 career. Hamilton won last Sunday's United States Grand Prix, which was contested on the brand new Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas.
His teammate, Jenson Button, posted a lap time of 1:12.513 to qualify second and give McLaren a front row sweep for the Brazilian GP.
"It's been a good weekend so far," Hamilton said. "I'm grateful to be able to put the car on the front row and to have my last one-two qualifying with Jenson. It was a fantastic job by the team, and I'm grateful for all the opportunities they have given me. I hope we can turn it into something positive tomorrow."
Hamilton topped the time charts during Friday's two practice sessions, while Button was quickest in final practice, which was held shortly before Saturday's qualifying session.
"It was a pretty good lap, but I'm not going to point to areas where we lost or gained time," Button said of his qualifying effort. "Lewis was half a tenth (of a second) quicker. I'm very happy to be on the front row."
A McLaren driver has not won the Brazilian GP since Mika Hakkinen last did it for the team in 1999.
Mark Webber qualified one spot ahead of his Red Bull teammate, Vettel, with his lap of 1:12.581. Either Webber or Vettel has won the last three Brazilian GPs. Webber scored the victory here in 2009 and last year, while Vettel took the checkered flag for the 2010 event.
Vettel, who enters this race with a 13-point lead over Alonso, made a lap in 1:12.581.
"It was not quick enough, and I know I could have done a little bit better," Vettel said. "All in all, we are in good shape. We have been competitive, and we'll see what we can do tomorrow."
Vettel will clinch his third consecutive F1 world championship if he finishes fourth or better in the Brazilian GP, regardless of where Alonso places. The 25-year-old Vettel will also be guaranteed the title if he finishes either fifth, sixth or seven, and Alonso does not win the race.
Alonso's lap time in Q3 was 1:13.253.
"Ninth in the USA and eighth here so more or less as I expected," Alonso said. "I will try to achieve the podiums which we achieved in Abu Dhabi and Austin, from those starting positions there."
Felipe Massa, who is Alonso's teammate at Ferrari, qualified fifth, while Williams' Pastor Maldonado took the sixth spot and Nico Hulkenberg from Force India was seventh.
Lotus' Kimi Raikkonen and Nico Rosberg from Mercedes completed the top-10. Rosberg's teammate, Michael Schumacher, will start 14th in his final F1 grand prix.
During Q1, Romain Grosjean from Lotus ran into the back of Pedro de la Rosa while attempting to pass the HRT driver. Grosjean had to pit for a new front wing on his car and wound up qualifying 18th.
The 71-lap Brazilian GP is scheduled to start at 11 a.m. (ET). There is a 60 percent chance of rain in the forecast, which could be a factor in this event that will decide the drivers' championship.
"I think the weather is going to be tricky tomorrow, so it will definitely make it more of a lottery," Hamilton said.
11/24 14:11:00 ET