Sebastian Vettel will fittingly start the final Grand Prix of a season in which he dominated from the front of the grid after a rain-soaked qualifying session in Brazil. The already crowned four-time world champion was 0.623 seconds quicker than Mercerdes’ Nico Rosberg, with Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso third, a further 0.437 seconds back.
In his final ever Formula One race, Vettel’s teammate Mark Webber will begin in fourth, ahead of the second Mercedes of Lewis Hamilton and the Lotus of Romain Grosjean.
Qualifying in Interlagos had begun in the wet before a near-hour long delay to final top-10 shootout. Once again, though, it was Vettel, who was in a class of his own.
“It was a surprise to get that time today,” he said, according to the official Formula One website. “I was happy after Q3, it took a long time for us to get out as there was a lot of rain at the end of Q2.
“We then got out and I was surprised by how much the water had cleared. I went straight onto the intermediates and was able to get a very good lap in immediately. I tried to beat that and got close, but it wasn’t enough. I was very happy to hear I got pole.”
Alonso has struggled in his Ferrari in the second half of the season as Vettel has disappeared into the distance. His third place on the grid comes as a welcome boost to end the campaign, and the Spaniard admitted that he wished the conditions on Saturday would have been repeated more often this year.
“After the results of the last few Grand Prix, it’s really good news to be back in the top three,” he explained. “We know our car is more competitive in the wet and it’s a shame that this year, it’s only rained here, but now we have to look ahead and think about getting on the podium tomorrow, as if we were fighting for the World Championship, because it would be the best way to end the season.”
Things did not go so well for Sauber’s Esteban Gutierrez, who failed to make it out of Q1. In his final Grand Prix for McLaren, Gutierrez’s fellow-Mexican Sergio Perez out-qualified teammate Jenson Button. Both, though, failed to make it past Q2 and will start a disappointing 14th and 15th.
Daniel Ricciardo will begin his final race for Toro Rosso before switching to Red Bull in an impressive seventh place, one ahead of teammate Jean-Eric Vergne. Two other drivers set to move to new garages next year, Felipe Massa and Nico Hulkenberg, round out the top 10.
Where to watch: The Formula One Brazilian Grand Prix will get underway at 11 a.m. ET. Coverage will be provided by NBC, with a live stream available on NBC Sports Live Extra.