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Brazil 2010 - Qualifying highlights - Interlagos continues to deliver as pole position is decided

Published by Christine

Overlooking the track at Interlagos, the scene of a surprising qualifying
Credit: Hispania Racing

We came into this qualifying with concerns that it may drag on and on for three hours, just like it did last year. We needn't have worried as the rain, although present at the start of the hour, didn't cause too many problems through the three sessions. It did, however, mix things up a bit, as the time to change to dry tyres became paramount to success.

Nico Hülkenberg did everything right, and took pole position by well over a second, but for a while we thought it could be Schumacher up there, and if not either of those, it would be Vettel or Alonso. In the end, the Williams came through and there was much celebrating in the garage.

Here's how qualifying played out.

As it happened: 2010 Brazil - Qualifying

  • 15:30

    Hello fact fans! How have you been? I am back, ready to cover qualifying for the Brazilian GP - the penultimate race of the year.

  • 15:31

    Last year, qualifying in Brazil was a little bit damp, and took three hours to be completed. I don't think I could cope with another delayed session, after Korea as well!

  • 15:32

    Vettel topped both Friday practice sessions, and finished second this morning behind a surprisingly quick Robert Kubica.

  • 15:32

    FP3 was affected by the weather a little, the rain starting out heavy but easing off towards the end. All eyes are on the skies ahead of qualifying.

  • 15:33

    A couple of things you need to know - Christian Klien has taken Sakon Yamamoto's place in the HRT car - no food poisoning this time - and he's likely to stay there until the end of the season.

  • 15:34

    Sebastien Buemi and Adrian Sutil will both have to drop five places from wherever they qualify today due to post-race penalties from Korea.

  • 15:35

    Red Bull have been in the headlines recently after Mark made some comments about favouritism within the team. We've heard it all before, of course, but Christian Horner has cleared everything up for us.

    "The drivers are under extreme pressure. And Mark - there's a lot of pressure there, and he'll do whatever he can to put as much pressure as possible on his opponents, and one of his opponents is his teammate.

    Mark knows in his heart of hearts that it's not right. After Thursdays comments, we sat down, we had a chat and said let's just focus on the racing. Let your driver do the talking.

    We win as a team, we lose as a team. His comments are not held against him, and we'll give him the best support we can."

  • 15:36

    Four drivers are out in front of the home crowds this weekend - Massa, Barrichello, Di Grassi and Senna. They'll want to do well to impress.

  • 15:38

    For those keeping track, Alonso is the only driver who can win the championship this weekend, but there are those same old five drivers still in contention.

  • 15:42

    Short lap around Brazil.

    Historical Session Times
    Year: 2009
    Free Practice 1Webber
    Free Practice 2Alonso1:12.314
    Free Practice 3Rosberg1:23.182
    The RaceWebber1:13.733
  • 15:43

    TweetTweet from @InsideFerrari: With just 20 minutes to the start of Q1 it is not raining

  • 15:46

    I forgot to plug the poll sitting in our live commenting thread. Who do you think will be on pole position? I'll be closing it shortly so get your vote in:

  • 15:47

    I hope you're joining us for live commenting in that thread, or using the super duper handy dashboard with integrated tweets -

  • 15:47

    For UK viewers, the BBC are streaming qualifying live: Apparently there is some kind of HD upscaling going on at the BBC as well.

  • 15:48

    Autosport are providing live text updates here: You can follow live timing when it gets underway on Bernie's official site:

  • 15:49
    2010 Pole Positions
    1Sebastian Vettel
    2Mark Webber5
    3Fernando Alonso2
    4Lewis Hamilton1
  • 15:49

    If Vettel gets pole position today, he'll be in double figures!

  • 15:50

    The poll may or may not say Korea, but you can just ignore that. Vote away as if it said Brazil.

  • 15:53
    Lap Data
    (data from Williams F1)
    Fuel Per Lap2.21kg/5km
    Fuel Penalty0.06s/lap
    Top Speed300kph
    Average Speed213kph
    Pit Lane Loss16.4s
    Pit Lane Length380m
  • 15:54

    Interview with Ross Brawn: "Conditions are pretty tricky. We only get four sets of intermediates and we've used one this morning. That's going to be the challenge, choosing when to use the tyres. There's some more rain forecast about halfway through the session, so that's what it's going to get interesting."

  • 15:56



    Wind Speed2.1mps
  • 15:57

    TweetTweet from @felipe_leite: the sun is shining through the clouds now. Track will be dry enough for slicks after 5min of qually

  • 15:57

    TV coverage shows some guys in the grandstands making music - one has drums, one has a trumpety type instrument. There's wigs and there's dancing. Brazil is quite amazing.

  • 15:58

    Although, who takes a trumpet to a Grand Prix?

  • 15:58
    Braking Analysis
    Turn 1
    (forecast data from Brembo)
    Initial Speed300km/h
    Final Speed103km/h
    Stopping Distance106m
    Braking Time2.03s
    Maximum Deceleration4.69g
    Maximum Pedal load136kg
  • 16:00

    Green flagQualifying session 1 begins.

  • 16:00

    The cars pile out onto track - Buemi out first.

  • 16:01

    TweetTweet from @felipe_leite: @factbytefactbox this guy is a pro. He has been in every major Sporting event involving Brazil since Barcelona '92

  • 16:02

    It looks damp but dry out there at the moment. Cars are making their way around for their first lap.

  • 16:03

    Buemi is the first man to set a time 1:22.744. Petrov a couple of seconds behind him.

  • 16:03

    TweetTweet from @alanbaldwinf1: The last eight drivers on pole here have of course been Spanish or Portuguese speakers. Reckon that run could end today.

  • 16:05

    Both Force Indias run a bit wide halfway round their lap. Yellow flags for a moment, but all green again.

  • 16:06

    The times for this year so far - dry on Friday, wet this morning.

    Fastest Session Times
    Free Practice 1Vettel1:12.328
    Free Practice 2Vettel1:11.968
    Free Practice 3Kubica1:19.191
  • 16:07

    Williams had a momentary P1-2, but Webber knocked them down and Vettel topped his teammate. Both Red Bull drivers have dropped into the 1:19s.

  • 16:08

    The onboard shot on Hamilton's car looks pretty wet.

  • 16:08

    Towards the back of the grid, Klien is last, with Senna just ahead of him - the pair of them are about five seconds off the pace of the leaders.

  • 16:08

    TweetTweet from @autosportlive: Hamilton is warned of incoming rain and is asked to make the most of the next few laps.

  • 16:09

    Fisichella is tucked away in the dry of the Ferrari garage, watching a monitor. I'd forgotten all about him!

  • 16:09

    The two Virgin drivers are the first two to come in and change tyres.

  • 16:10

    It must have been a while since we had all drivers out on track so quickly. Normally there are one or two who leave it late.

  • 16:10

    Half the session gone, Alonso is fastest - 1:19.842 - with Vettel and Webber behind.

  • 16:10

    More replays show a few drivers struggling to stay on track, Glock (presumably before he pitted), and Rosberg.

  • 16:11

    The Force India boys join Glock in the pit lane. Di Grassi came out already, Timo is still in the garage.

  • 16:12

    RadioTeam radio to Alonso: "We are still expecting some rain but it's getting lighter and lighter, so let's manage the tyres."

  • 16:12

    Vettel has topped the times once more, a 1:19.160 - close to breaking through the next second barrier.

  • 16:13

    Buemi is up in 7th at the moment - good for him if he wants to minimise the penalty.

  • 16:14

    Webber a 1:19.025. Come on, someone can make that 18, I know it.

  • 16:15

    Five minutes left to go. Martin Brundle says the track is getting towards a "greasy emulsion stage" which sounds gross.

  • 16:16

    Webber and Vettel have both pitted. This is not good for my quest for a 1:18.

  • 16:17

    Sutil and Liuzzi are swapping that drop-zone spot - the one position you don't want to be in, knocked out with the newer teams.

  • 16:17

    Glock has pitted from 19th place.

  • 16:18

    Schumacher is quite far down the order too, though, P16 at the moment, but he's on a lap.

  • 16:18

    As I type that, Mr Schumacher improves to 6th.

  • 16:19

    Senna has spun off track, but recovers the car and continues onwards.

  • 16:19

    Webber and Vettel are the only two in the garage - the rest of the field are determined to improve.

  • 16:20

    Liuzzi improved to 17th, leaving his teammate in the drop zone.

  • 16:20

    Kubica is sitting nicely in third, just two tenths of Webber's P1 time.

  • 16:20

    Chequered flagQualifying session 1 ends.

  • 16:21

    Alonso has dropped the times! 1:18.987. I approve. P1 for the Ferrari at the final moment. What times will we see in Q2?

  • 16:23
    Qualifying Position
    18Adrian Sutil1:20.830
    19Timo Glock1:22.130
    20Jarno Trulli1:22.250
    21Heikki Kovalainen1:22.378
    22Lucas di Grassi1:22.810
    23Christian Klien1:23.083
    24Bruno Senna1:23.796
  • 16:24

    TweetTweet from @clubforce: Adrian is out at the end of Q1. He ends qualifying in 18th. Disappointing session for him.

  • 16:25

    Disappointing even more with his five place grid drop seeing him on the back row of the grid.

  • 16:26

    RadioTeam radio from Hamilton at the end of the session: "I'm trying to stay out of the way of people but I can't see because of the spray."

  • 16:27

    Green flagQualifying session 2 begins.

  • 16:28

    Buemi was out first again. The Toro Rossos do like to take the opportunity to lead the pack.

  • 16:29

    TweetTweet from @MikeGascoyne: disappointing to lose a place to Glock, really suffer with traffic, espicially Heikki with Heidfeld holding him up on flying laps twice

  • 16:29

    Everyone is out of the garage now, except for Liuzzi.

  • 16:30

    RadioTeam radio to Barrichello:"No more rain on the forecast, okay, no more rain now." And Rubens' reply: "The track is wet but it will get better yes?"

  • 16:31

    Webber is fastest at the moment, and Schumacher has popped up to P2, but both are on exactly the same time - 1:19.694. ODD!

  • 16:32

    Barrichello pops up to P1 now, with Kubica behind him.

  • 16:33

    Vettel posts a 1:19.218. We seem to have regressed from the nice 1:18 times.

  • 16:33

    Webber sorts that out, 1:18.851.

  • 16:34

    Buemi and Alguersuari return to the pitlane, currently in 13th and 14th positions respectively.

  • 16:34

    Half the session gone, the drop zone includes Kobayashi, Hulkenberg, Buemi, Alguersuari, Liuzzi, Heidfeld and Rosberg.

  • 16:35

    RadioTeam radio between Hamilton and his engineer:

    "Towards the end of this session, we may be looking to put dry tyres on."

    "It's not going to be dries."

  • 16:36

    TweetTweet from @tonyfernandes: I'm happy with qualifying. Can't do much with traffic. Always going to be the problem as all cars out on track. Hopefully dry race tmw.

  • 16:36

    Barrichello runs wide off track, but no harm done, except for x1 ruined lap.

  • 16:36

    Hamilton pits for intermediate tyres.

  • 16:38

    QuoteComment from Stuart Taylor: OOoh some great FBFB innovations yet to come?

  • 16:39

    Massa is struggling down in 14th, and you could say that his team really, really, really need him to be in the top ten.

  • 16:39

    Webber and Vettel are flip-flopping fastest times at the top.

  • 16:39

    Massa improves to 8th position.

  • 16:40

    Button is also struggling down in 12th position, whilst Hamilton is up in third.

  • 16:41

    Button scrapes through into seventh, it's still touch and go for him.

  • 16:42

    Webber has pitted from P1.

  • 16:42

    Chequered flagQualifying session 2 ends.

  • 16:42

    Massa dropped back down to 12th, and gets through to 10th, knocking Button out. Jenson is in the pits, so he is out of qualifying.

  • 16:43
    Qualifying Position
    11Jenson Button1:19.288
    12Kamui Kobayashi1:19.385
    13Nico Rosberg1:19.486
    14Jaime Alguersuari1:19.581
    15Sebastien Buemi1:19.847
    Nick Heidfeld1:19.899
    17Tonio Liuzzi1:20.357
  • 16:44

    So... Buemi was rubbish in the end! Five place drop for him as well.

  • 16:44

    Now, remember earlier when I talked of a poll about pole? The results are in and by an enormous margin, you guys reckon Vettel is going to get it.

  • 16:45

    Webber, Alonso and Hamilton all got three votes each. There is not that much confidence in Kubica.

  • 16:46

    Schumacher has unusually outqualified his teammate today, as Rosberg drops out of the running in Q2.

    Qualifying Battle
    Qualified Ahead
    Nico Rosberg15
    Michael Schumacher3
  • 16:47

    Interview with Sutil: "The tyres are just not working at all, we got graining very quickly, and the general balance is not good. It's very low grip and oversteering quite a lot. Last year I was P3, now I'm P18."

  • 16:47

    Adrian also expressed dissatisfaction with Liuzzi pulling back on track in front of him and holding him up. "He's done it several times this year, he's just a bit all over the place." Uh oh, more inter-team rowing!

  • 16:50

    Interview with Button: "It's been pretty tough for me all weekend. I've struggled with the car quite a bit. The car was better in quali than it has been all weekend. We put new tyres on at the end of qualifying and my first lap was alright but the second lap I'd damaged the tyres too much. It's disappointing not to get into the top ten, but I've started lower down the grid here. I'm not so disappointed like I was last year, but pretty disappointed. As a supporting role, it's not much use to be so far behind your teammate."

  • 16:50

    Green flagQualifying session 3 begins.

  • 16:50

    Alonso heads the pack first, keen to get to work.

  • 16:53

    Alonso sets a 1:17.794. I didn't see that coming at all. 1:17!

  • 16:53

    All ten drivers are out on track, with Schumacher and Massa the last two to set a time.

  • 16:53

    Hamilton drops it to a 1:17.212. Is a 1:16 on the cards too? I don't think I can cope!

  • 16:54

    Alonso's second lap is slower, the last sector seems to be a struggle, and Brundle suggests the tyres are going off at the end of the lap.

  • 16:54

    Ted Kravitz reports that soft tyres are being dragged out into the pitlane. He sounds very excited about it!

  • 16:55

    Hamilton has put the dry tyres on and is heading back out on track.

  • 16:56

    Vettel has a bit of a wobble out of the pitlane on his slick tyres. Not a good start, but the pitlane is damp, whilst the track is drying considerably.

  • 16:56

    Schumacher is being held in the pitlane for ages, tyre blankets on. Waiting for the ultimate moment.

  • 16:57

    All cars out on track again, with three minutes to go.

  • 16:57

    Kubica has spun right off, he's ruined that lap, he may just have time for another one.

  • 16:58

    Schumacher could put in a bit of a surprise here, which would be odd. I didn't put Schumi in my poll at all.

  • 16:58

    Webber has a slide following a Ferrari up the hill - cold, greasy tyres now. Another ruined lap!

  • 16:58

    Hulkenberg posts a 1:16.373. Erm...

  • 16:59

    Hamilton beats him to P1 for now.

  • 16:59

    Webber in P6, bad bad news for him.

  • 17:00

    Hulkenberg is even faster 1:15.462, and he has another lap!

  • 17:01

    QuoteComment from Jason: WHAT IS THIS I DONT EVEN

  • 17:02

    Hulkenberg takes pole position for the Brazilian GP - a 1:14.470.

  • 17:02

    I don't usually use bold text in qualifying, but you know... this is epic.

  • 17:02

    TweetTweet from @ManipeF1: Pole by over 1 whole second. That's impressive for the man without a drive for 2011! #F1

  • 17:04

    TweetTweet from @SimonF1twit: @factbytefactbox awesome awesome awesome!!!!

  • 17:04
    Qualifying Position
    1Nico Hulkenberg1:14.470
    2Sebastian Vettel1:15.519
    3Mark Webber1:15.637
    4Lewis Hamilton1:15.747
    5Fernando Alonso1:15.989
    Rubens Barrichello
    7Robert Kubica1:16.552
    8Michael Schumacher1:16.925
    9Felipe Massa1:17.101
    10Vitaly Petrov1:17.656
  • 17:06

    It's a great moment for Williams, and for Cosworth, and for Hulk. I ponder how well he will do off the startline, but that doesn't matter for now.

  • 17:07

    See, if you had to put money on which Williams would take pole first...

    Qualifying Battle
    Qualified Ahead
    Rubens Barrichello12
    Nico Hulkenberg5
  • 17:09

    Interview with Patrick Head: "Rubens changed to dry first, very experienced in choice of tyres. Nico thought it wasn't good enough for dries, but his race engineer told him that Rubens was going on to dries, Nico followed and basically he just put the hammer down and did the job. Fantastic.

    "There's no champagne for Saturday, but it's fantastic for the team. Everybody back at base and here is pushing to get back into being a front running team and this is good impetus."

  • 17:11

    Interview with Hamilton: "It's better than nothing. I've often started fourth place at this track, it's not really my favourite spot but I can't complain really. We gained a little bit everywhere, but really in qualifying, just that last lap, I got a bit held up right at the last corner. Someone was backing up in front of me and I lost a little bit of time there. Otherwise we're still in the fight and it's quite cool that Hulkenberg is all the way up there.

    "I think we've got good race pace, good in the straight speed. We're in a good position for tomorrow, so I'm happy I can do battle from there."

  • 17:13

    Press conference quotes - Nico Hulkenberg: "It's amazing, I still can't believe that I've done it. A big thank you for the team, they put a good car together for qualifying. To go on slicks was obviously the right decision. I was just squeezing everything out of my car, trying to do a clean lap, not make any mistakes. What a nice surprise for us on Saturday to be on pole."

  • 17:14

    Press conference quotes - Sebastian Vettel: "It was a tricky session, obviously a tough call in the end. After the first run on inters the circuit looked dry. It was getting better and better. First I thought I missed pole by a tenth but then I saw it was another digit, a four instead of a five, so congratulations to Nico. We were targeting for pole, Nico was better than all of us today. It was a tricky session but it could have been worse so very happy with second."

  • 17:16

    Press conference quotes - Mark Webber: "I enjoyed qualifying, it was a very challenging session for all of us. It was very easy in those conditions to get things wrong. I'm very happy ot be towards the front and to have got something out of that session. I did my absolute best. Similar to Sebastian I looked at the times, and obviously Nico was, his car was working very well and he got the most out of him. Congratulations to him and his first pole."

  • 17:17

    Interview with Alonso: "In qualifying like this with wet dry, you never make any predictions or expectations. You do your best. It was a difficult time for us in Q2, we were struggling a bit with the intermediate tyres, and with dry tyres it was a tricky circuit to play. In the end fifth, is not pole position but we saved one tricky qualifying."

  • 17:21

    Nico on poleNico is sandwiches between two Red Bull drivers - who would have predicted this?

  • 17:23

    That is one unlikely session, and it seems as thought the weather held the key, even though it never really rained. It started off damp but dried up throughout the sessions, so that choosing when to put the slick tyres on was the difference between finishing well, and... not so well.

  • 17:24

    Clearly, Hulkenberg was a big surprise, and Barrichello finished up in 6th, so Williams have a lot of form so far this weekend. It'll be a tricky race for Nico, surrounded by Red Bulls, but a podium is not out of the question.

  • 17:25

    Webber must be relieved that he's starting ahead of Alonso, as he needs to finish ahead of him to keep the championship going. Button has made his life pretty difficult, though, 11th is not a great place to be.

  • 17:26

    Further down the order, Force India had a torrid time, with Sutil out in Q1. He qualified 18th (before grid penalties), and Liuzzi, although through to the next session, only managed one place better.

  • 17:26

    I was pretty disappointed in Kubica, who has looked strong in the sessions so far this weekend. Qualifying is not really his thing, though, it seems. He may be one to watch for the race, with teammate Petrov starting from 10th.

  • 17:29

    I know I just did my wrapping up, but this needs to be shown. What a gap!

    Battle For 1st
  • 17:31

    That is all I have for you for now, but I hope you're planning to join me back here again tomorrow for the race. It's going to be a fascinating start!

All content in the series Brazil 2010