Tyres this weekend are the hard and medium compounds... and maybe the wet tyres too. We'll see!
Paddock people are getting sentimental about the departing drivers - Schumacher's retiring, Hamilton's moving teams, etc.
Martin Whitmarsh is having none of it though, there's a job to do: "We’ll be emotional at the end of the race, but right now we’re worrying about the rain, we’re worrying about qualifying. The release of that emotion will be as we cross the line, and we’ll worry about that when we get to that bit of the weekend."
In case you didn't know, there's 13 points between Sebastian Vettel in the lead of the championship and Fernando Alonso chasing him in second. It's a tough ask, but this is Brazil.
Race Control: Pink headrest material must be used. That is the foam that is designed best to be used in cold ambient temperatures. If it was blue, it would indicate warmer.
Interview with Andy Stevenson, Force India: "The track's already drying out, I think the start of Q1 will be dry. We know we've got a good setup, at the moment we're pretty confident. There could be more rain in Q3, it's a bit touch and go. We'll keep alert, we're ready to react to anything that's thrown at us. If we have to come in towards the end, change tyres and go, the guys are ready for it."
As always, Sebastian Vettel has his headphones on, he's standing just outside the garage, arms folded, studying the car closely.
This is one of the shorter laps on the calendar, the second shortest in fact. Pole position last year was Vettel with 1:11.918.
Bernie Ecclestone picks this moment, of all moments, to wander the pitlane and deliver a birthday card to Norbert Haug.
We've closed the polls, and 69% say there will be no chance of wet tyres in action today.
For who will get pole position, it's a dead heat between Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton with 33% each. A dead heat with Vettel and Alonso on 14% too.
Two Caterhams and an HRT are lined up at the end of the pitlane, waiting for the green light and the session to start.
Qualifying session 1 begins.
Caterham, HRT and Marussia send all their cars out straight away, hoping to get a banker lap in before any potential rain.
Spray is visible on the camera above Vitaly Petrov's head, that was being kicked up by De la Rosa in front of him.
Several of the cars went wide off track as they try and work out where the slippery bits are.
The two Toro Rosso drivers, two Saubers and Nico Rosberg have joined the action.
Heikki Kovalainen pulled a Hamilton on Glock at that final corner, getting past the Marussia in the wet.
Team radio from Kovalainen: "The last corner uphill is very wet."
Both Räikkönen and Schumacher are sitting calmly in the garages, no sign of going out just yet.
The first lap times are pouring in now, we've got Kobayashi leading with 1:24.957, Glock behind him by about a second.
Five minutes gone and we have ten times on the board.
Rosberg returned to the pitlane without setting a time.
Vergne was told to keep pushing over the radio, and the tyres would come to him. A dry line is appearing on the circuit as more cars go over it.
Team radio to Hülkenberg: "If you think it's not these tyres, then come back in."
He stays out on track.
Hulk is on the intermediate tyres.
Hülkenberg is called back into the pitlane again, and he does come in this time. Not damp enough for intermediates.
It's Pastor Maldonado on top now, the times have dropped to 1:18.709. Vergne is behind him, as the Toro Rosso driver returns to the pitlane.
Still no sign of Button, Schumacher or Grosjean.
Replays show Pérez having to brake heavily as an HRT locks up in front of him. He gives a little wave to the car in front, annoyed.
Team radio to Alonso: "We target seven timed laps."
Senna has jumped ahead of his teammate now, with a 1:17.803. Close between those two.
Now it's just Michael Schumacher who has yet to make an appearance this session.
Out he comes, so we should see everyone with a timed lap in the next couple of minutes.
Hamilton has moved up to P1, but Alonso is already two tenths up on another lap.
Alonso goes fastest for just a moment, as Hamilton crosses the line to improve his own time and return to P1.
All drivers are out on track at the moment, barring Narain Karthikeyan.
Schumacher crosses the line to set his first lap time of the afternoon, good enough for second place!
The drop zone is changing quickly, as the track starts to come together. Vettel is in there!
Paul di Resta was down in the drop zone but whizzed all the way up to P1 with a 1:16.621.
Track is clear.
Replays show coming up the long uphill section towards the start/finish straight, Grosjean came across an HRT. It looked like the car in front was giving him room, but closed the door at the last second, taking off Romain's front wing in the process.
The yellow flag before that was not for Grosjean, but for Heikki Kovalainen who spun and continued at turn 13.
Grosjean had to complete the lap without a front wing but has been back into the pits and got a new nose. He's back out with time for another lap.
So, the drop zone: Kovalainen, Maldonado, Petrov, Glock, Karthikeyan, Pic, and De la Rosa.
The times at the top have dropped to the 1:15s, Hamilton is currently leading Senna and then Button.
You can see the sparks on the front left suspension as the pair came together. Dangerous place for an accident!
Qualifying session 1 ends.
Grosjean is now sitting in the drop zone, but he's on a lap. Maldonado does battle with an HRT as he crosses the line but improves to 11th.
Romain does manage to improve to 17th, but Ricciardo tops that time and moves the Lotus back in to the drop zone.
|24||P de la Rosa||HRT|
|24th||P de la Rosa||1:19.699|
The fastest three in that session were Hamilton, Senna and Button.
|P de la Rosa||17|
Qualifying session 2 begins.
Race Control: Incident involving Grosjean and De la Rosa will be investigated after qualifying.
Two minutes gone and twelve cars are out there, ready to set their flying laps.
Both Red Bull drivers, both McLarens and Pastor Maldonado are yet to leave the garage.
Tweet from @Official_SF1Team: Our boys are having used medium compound tyres for the first run in Q2
Fernando Alonso has the P1 time at the moment, 1:14.631 with Hülkenberg just behind him.
Senna looks to be struggling with his car, the back end sliding a bit more than he'd like, as he comes round for his first lap of this session - 6th.
Pastor Maldonado leaves the garage to start his campaign to get into the top ten. Red Bull and McLaren still waiting.
Schumacher crosses the line for fourth place, and Rosberg improves to pop up ahead of him - similar pace from the two Mercedes drivers.
Replays show a massive lockup for Kamui Kobayashi, leaving him with an almighty lockup on his front right tyre.
Only the two Williams drivers are out on track now, as the rest return to the pitlane.
Hamilton edges his McLaren out of the garage, and disappears off to set his first time of Q2.
Vettel and Webber also head out for their assault on the circuit, leaving just Button yet to appear.
Vettel's radio instructs him they're set to do four timed laps.
Fernando Alonso heads back out of the garage, he's currently leading.
Hamilton crosses the line for a 1:13.398, jumping straight up to P1.
Webber also posts a 1:13 time to move into second, whilst Vettel goes fastest with a 1:13.209.
All seventeen drivers are now out on track, just under three minutes to go.
Alonso's next lap, that looked a real handful, was good enough for fifth.
Alonso then pushed down the order by Maldonado and Rosberg. Seventh for the Ferrari.
The drop zone currently features: Senna, Massa, Schumacher, Pérez, Ricciardo, Kobayashi and Vergne.
Team radio from Vettel: "Do you think we need another lap?"
"Yes another lap please."
Vettel returns to the garage from P1, happy with his session's work.
Qualifying session 2 ends.
Massa improves to tenth place, Schumacher crosses the line and hasn't improved so he is out of this session.
|11||P Di Resta||Force India|
|16||D Ricciardo||Toro Rosso|
|17||J Vergne||Toro Rosso|
The top three in that session were Vettel, Hamilton and then Button.
Alonso's lap time disappeared in a plume of tyre smoke.
Qualifying session 3 begins.
Nico Rosberg is the first driver to head out in Q3, the rest are remaining in the sanctity of the garage for now.
Team radio to Rosberg: "We're going for two timed on this used tyre and then one timed on new."
Hamilton and Alonso have also joined the action, heading out early in this final session.
Now it's just Räikkönen and Hülkenberg in the garage, as Rosberg crosses the line for the first time - 1:22.398.
That was a really slow lap from Rosberg, Hamilton is about eight seconds faster on this lap.
1:12.850 for Lewis as he crosses the line for his first lap, Alonso behind him in second for now.
Rosberg improves to a 1:14. That's more like it.
Felipe Massa jumps up to P2, faster than his teammate. That'll never last! Webber pushes him down, and Button also.
Vettel pushed too hard on his lap, and ran wide at the bottom of the hill - his time was sixth fastest, behind Alonso for now.
Hülkenberg is on a hot lap now, the man has been known to take pole position in Brazil. But it's not looking likely at the moment.
Kimi Räikkönen is also out on track, the two circulating as the rest of the pack return to the garage.
Two minutes remaining now, it's a quick turnaround for Vettel who came in last from the first stint, and he's out again now.
Webber begins his final flying lap, with less than a minute to go. He's up in the first sector.
Qualifying session 3 ends.
Webber goes fastest, a 1:12.581. But almost everyone is on a lap right now.
Alonso goes fifth, Maldonado fourth. Hamilton goes P1 with Button not quite quick enough but securing a McLaren front row.
Sebastian Vettel only had the pace for fourth place, behind teammate Webber.
|3||M Webber||Red Bull|
|4||S Vettel||Red Bull|
|7||N Hülkenberg||Force India|
Interview with Martin Whitmarsh: "Both drivers, very proud of them. Very proud of the team, everyone who has made this car quick. We haven't got all the points we should have done this year, but we've got a quick racing car. Tomorrow may be different conditions, but whatever the conditions, it's nicer to start from the front row."
Interview with Sebastian Vettel: "Q3 was not 100% perfect. I think Q2 was quite good, fast. The first run in Q3 was not good for me, I did a mistake. The second run, I was pretty happy with it but it wasn't good enough. In the end, traffic isn't a problem because there's only ten cars left but in the beginning it's quite busy. The circuit gets quicker throughout, so it's the last couple of laps that are important.
"Right now, I come out of qualifying, I know I could have done a little bit better, I'm keen to go back now, look at the data, and see where I wasn't quick enough. Mark was a little bit quicker, all in all we're in good shape, we'll see what we can do tomorrow."
Interview with Stefano Domenicali: "It's not the perfect position to start the race from tomorrow, but a lot of concentration and work hard, and see what is the outcome of the last race. Everything is possible [in the rain], could be fast, could be traffic in front which you can't see, it will be an interesting Sunday tomorrow."
The latest weather forecasts, as much as you can trust them, reckon 80% rain - so say the BBC.
Interview with Felipe Massa: "I feel very happy, I think it was a fantastic lap, it was a great performance. Looking at how quick McLaren and Red Bull, I think it was impossible to do better than I did. That's positive and really nice, now it's just looking forward to the race. Everybody is saying it's going to be wet, we know it's Interlagos, anything can happen.
"The only thing I need to do is concentrate on my home race, get a good result in front of my people, which I did today in qualifying, even if I'm not starting on pole position. I hope I can do a similar job tomorrow in front of my people."
Interview with Fernando Alonso: "Not a surprise, we were seventh in Abu Dhabi, ninth in USA and eighth here. We try to repeat the performance on Sunday. Interesting race, obviously we need some strange circumstances, chaotic race in a way with rain or something."
Press Conference Quotes - Lewis Hamilton: "It's been a good weekend so far. Grateful to be able to put the car on the front row, to have a 1-2 on my last qualifying with Jenson in the same time. Fantastic job by the team, so grateful for the all the opportunities they've given me. I hope we can turn it into something positive tomorrow."
Press Conference Quotes - Jenson Button: "It was a pretty good lap, I'm not going to point at areas where you lose or gain time. It was a good lap, Lewis was half a tenth quicker. Very happy to be on the front row, last couple of races have been a bit tricky in qualifying, so good. As Lewis said, it's great to both be on the front row for his last Grand Prix with the team. The team's in great shape at the moment, it's a pity things have got to change but things do change."
Press Conference Quotes - Mark Webber: "I think we focus on ourselves tomorrow, do the cleanest race I can. We know there's some tricky weather tomorrow so it's a long Grand Prix. I'll be focused 100% on my efforts in my cockpit, and getting to the finish line as quickly as possible."
Press Conference Quotes - Lewis Hamilton: "I think the weather is going to be tricky tomorrow, it's going to definitely make it more of a lottery. As Jenson said, we've put ourselves in a really good position and we're just going to do the best job we can from there, work together as a team, the best we have been for quite some time. Make sure we do everything we can to get the best result for the team."
That's about all for qualifying then, we've got an interesting grid for tomorrow and the potential for some rain! That's pretty much all we asked.
I've enjoyed today, and I'm going to enjoy tomorrow too. I hope you'll join me back here for the final race - it's gonna be good!
Stay cool, fact fans.
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24 November 2012
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