McLaren now have more 1-2 grid positions than any other team in F1 – 62 in total. 1st pole in Interlagos since 2000. Seems like the car likes the Pirelli hard-medium tyre, as in Austin.
Hamilton: “Pole! What a great feeling! It’s been a fantastic weekend so far. We don’t yet know for certain what the weather conditions will be like tomorrow, but I hope that both Jenson and I will be able to push for victory. I’ve usually started from fourth grid position at Interlagos, and it hasn’t always given me much success. Before qualifying, I told Martin that I really didn’t want to start fourth this time. All in all, I’m very proud and happy that I got pole.
“Jenson and I are in the best possible starting positions for tomorrow. However, if it’s wet, the lead car is the always the first to aquaplane or hit the puddles, so, even if we both get good starts, we’ll still need to be cautious. Equally, however, I don’t want to drop back at the start because it would then be very difficult to see in all the spray. We haven’t had a one-two in a race for quite a long time [Canada 2010], so it would be a great positive for the team if we could achieve it tomorrow. It would be my perfect farewell, in fact.”
Button: “It’s great for us to both be on the front row, especially as it’s Lewis’s last Grand Prix for the Vodafone McLaren Mercedes team. Our car is working very well. I was just half a tenth away from pole, and I reckon we both drove very good laps. So, yes, I’m happy with qualifying. From the front row, you always hope you’re going to drive a calm and orderly race, but it looks like it’s going to rain tomorrow, so that may make things rather less predictable.
“This race is important for us. Obviously, we’re out of contention for the world championships, but this weekend’s and last weekend’s performances are very encouraging for next year, which will become our focus immediately after tomorrow’s race.”
Webber: Asked will he help Sebastian tomorrow says, “I will be focused on myself and getting to the chequered flag as quickly as possible”. Webber said he was “dissappionted not to have had the chance to put the car on the front row”. Not sure what Webber means – I didn’t think he had time for another lap – but maybe I’m wrong.
“We got the most out of that, but it was disappointing not to get onto the front row. I thought the lap would be enough, but we were a tenth off, it’s always tight here in qualifying. In the last race of the season it would have been good to get pole, but fair play to McLaren. We don’t know what the weather will do tomorrow, and if all of the race laps will be on intermediate or wet tyres, we need to plan that some might be on slicks too. You never know what will happen here with the weather.”
Vettel: Admitted he made a mistake on his first run in Q3, and so he then had to ensure he got a lap in. Sounds like a bit of pressure and a safe play. Safest play would have been to be at the front though.
Reporter’s suggest Vettel is unusually ‘tetchy’ qualifying onl 4th.
Massa Tells Italian TV, “If they tell me my gearbox is broken, I’ll race with a broken gearbox”
Maldonado under investigtion from stewards for missing weightbridge – could move Alonso foward. He may well get a penalty because unlike last week where the car was immediately returned to be weighed, I don’t think Maldondo’s was. It was easier for Red Bull to see what happened due to the position of their garage. I’m not sure the Williams team realised.
Even if Maldonado only gets a reprimand, it will be his third and then a penalty will ensue.
UPDATE: As predicted Maldonado receives a reprimand and a subsequent 10 place grid penalty as its his third of the year.
Dominicali tells SKY there will be no gearbox tampering with Massa’s car. However, if Maldonado does get a penalty, Alonso is then 7th, a Massa 5 slot penalty sticks Alonso behind Vettel. Maybe with rain coming, Ferrari don’t want this.
Alonso “We know the situation is good for tomorrow,” engineer Andrea Stella tells Alonso over the radio. Sounds like the car is set up for wet conditions.
He tweets, “Happy with q3 laps and the usual position around 8th .. ;)! Now I hope many overtakes again tomorrow, and fight to the flag!”
Conspiracists so Massa is in the perfect position to be robust in Turn1 with Vettel and if he doesn’t get him, Maldonado surely will.
Raikkonen: It appears he is on ‘end of season presentation avoidance’ because as things stand, Lewis gets 3rd place in the WDC. Kimi not fond of dinner suits and black tie – a long race to go though.
Perez: Only qualified 12th. It appears he has fully checked out of Sauber – and did so quite some time ago.
Kovalainen: Outqualified again by Petrov again, not good for his future
Weather: Still a lot of rain forecast tomorrow. The chance of rain has been reduced to 50% from 90%, this may just mean we don’t get havoc – but enough to spice things up.
Full points: Will only be full points awarded if 54 laps are completed. If the race is red flagged and half points awarded Vettel wins whatever.
Grosjean/De la Rosa under investigation: Grosjean reckons de la Rosa was at fault as he tried to slip inside the HRT on the run onto the pits straight but they clashed, squeezing Grosjean into the pit entry barrier and damaging his front wing.
De la Rosa continued with damage to his HRT, but was left last on the grid, while Grosjean could only manage 18th so was eliminated from Q1. “I was behind Pedro for the whole lap,” said Grosjean. “I was going to overtake him in a straight line and I don’t think he saw me and pushed me into the barriers. I braked as much as I could, but we had contact.”
Grosjean had been fifth in final practice and was sure he was set to qualify well had the incident not occurred. “It’s a disaster,” he said. “We had a very good car. I don’t know what to say. “Let’s see tomorrow, the weather may be strange.”
De la Rosa was adamant Grosjean was to blame, saying he could not understand what the frenchman was doing.
UPDATE: Stewards say racing incident due to , no further action.
Lews deserves to win 2012 WDC: BBC’s nachor Jake humphrey responded, “nice to see you’ve been keeping abreast of things this year Bernie”. He was presumably being obtuse – he just looked vague and a bit mad.
Koby sets up website to raise funds: Speaking to reporters at the season-ending Brazil Grand Prix on Friday after Sauber announced Mexican Esteban Gutierrez would be taking his place in 2013, Kobayashi did his best to sound confident.
Kobayashi said money, or rather his lack of it, was “the main issue for sure” in why Sauber, who have several Mexican sponsors, had opted for Gutierrez alongside Nico Hulkenberg.
“This is F1,” shrugged the Japanese, the son of sushi restaurant owner, who arrived in Formula One with Toyota support but no other backing and joined Sauber when the carmaker pulled out at the end of 2009. “For Sauber it is my last race but for myself I think it is different.
“Everybody looks really worried but I don’t really worry at the moment, I try to work hard to get sponsors and find out what’s available for next year’s seat.”
Kobayashi, an extrovert overtaker, has huge popularity in Japan after finishing third for Sauber in his home race at Suzuka this season but he has suspected for some time that he would not be kept on at the team.
He said he was trying to harness some of the goodwill at home through a ‘www.kamui-support.com’ website, with the url posted on his Twitter account to 93,000 followers, offering wristbands in exchange for a donation.
“Suzuka had more than 100,000 people at the race… over the three days we had 200,000,” said Kobayashi, comfortably Japan’s most successful GP driver by career points scored.
“I think we have a lot of potential to get some money from the fans as well. It has been just two days but it’s going to help my career for sure.”
Force India, Caterham and Marussia still have seats available but all have made it clear that they are looking for sponsorship money as part of the deal.
Lauda Watch:We bemoaned the possible demise of Lauda watch following the news last week that Aarbar had sold its 40$ stake in Mercedes F1. We now discover Aabar, the Abu Dhabi state investment arm, may have withdrawn at Mercedes in order to buy into the Toro Rosso team.
Aabar continues to back Toro Rosso, Red Bull’s second Formula One team, through its Spanish oil brand Cepsa and Sport Auto reports that Aabar has now bought part of the Faenza based squad. “The (percentage) number (of the stake) is between 49 to 61 per cent,” the magazine said.
Toro Rosso is yet to comment. Could Lauda end up transferring allegiance from Mercedes to Torro Rosso as Aabar’s international ambassador. We could then have a joint Red Bull watch to keep our eyes on Marko and Lauda.
Wurz no HRT saviour: Pedro de la Rosa has denied rumours Alex Wurz, his former McLaren test driver team-mate, could be involved in the rescue of the dying Spanish Formula One team HRT F1.
Spain’s AS newspaper said former Formula 1 driver and Austrian Wurz, currently a ‘driver coach’ at Williams but also running his own company Firma Test and Technik, has been involved in talks to save HRT F1, whose lead driver is de la Rosa.
“No, it’s not true,” de la Rosa said. “I believe Alex has already denied it, but I am sure he is here (at Interlagos) and you can see what he says.” De la Rosa, 41, acknowledged that Sunday’s Brazilian Grand Prix could be his last Grand Prix and he warned others in pit lane about suffering HRT F1’s fate.
“Apart from McLaren, Ferrari, Red Bull and maybe Mercedes, the future of all the other teams is not very secure,” he is quoted as saying.
Mastercard: American multinational Mastercard could be set to return to Formula One, according to the latest rumour from Brazil. Russia’s f1news website reported that Mastercard, having sponsored Lola’s stillborn Formula 1 effort in 1997 and then Jordan between 1998-2001, has now agreed a trackside sponsorship deal with Bernie Ecclestone’s company FOM.
The news follows American giant Coca-Cola’s decision to sponsor Lotus from next year with its energy drink Burn, and the return to the calendar of a US Formula 1 Grand Prix. Asked how it feels to have secured Coke’s backing, Lotus team owner Gerard Lopez told Turun Sanomat newspaper: “As good as Kimi (Raikkonen)’s win in Abu Dhabi.”
Team boss Eric Boullier, however, refused to say if Burn will be Lotus’ title sponsor next year. “I’m not going to release any more information,” he said in Brazil. “Whatever it is, it’s always welcome.”
On this day, Nov 24th in F1
Twenty-one year old Lewis Hamitlon was confirmed as Fernando Alonso’s team-mate at McLaren for the following season, despite still not having driven an F1 car. It was the culmination of a relationship which had started 11 years earlier with a handshake between Ron Dennis and Hamilton.
“We reviewed the grid and, apart from the top three, we reckoned most of them had plateaued,” Dennis said. “I am distinctly unimpressed with the majority of drivers currently involved in F1. I feel Lewis is well equipped to deal with these drivers who fall into that category.”
Hamilton himself admitted he was “overwhelmed”. He added: “It was a surreal feeling. I was sat on a couch opposite Ron at his home. He told me that McLaren had decided to take me on as their new driver. It didn’t kick in. I put on a professional face. I could see Ron was excited.
He said I should be, too. Inside I was. But it had been such a long wait. It was a warm feeling knowing the seat was mine. Now I have to get on and prepare.” The decision to appoint Hamilton was made after Monza in late September but had been kept secret.
The curtain came down on the Minardi team with the last outing of a car bearing the name following its takeover and rebranding as Toro Rosso. Fittingly, owner Paul Stoddart drove the final lap. “It turned out to be a more emotional experience than I expected,” he said. “For so many years Minardi has given so much to so many. I wish Toro Rosso every success, but I know I am not alone in thinking it will always be Minardi in the minds of so many people.”
Flavio Briatore’s ultimately successful appeal against his lifetime ban from motorsport as well as £1 million in damages resulting from the Crashgate scandal began in a Paris court.