Mercedes AMG Petronas’ Lewis Hamilton took his sixteenth career pole position after beating his teammate Nico Rosberg by a tenth of a second at the end of the qualifying session in Brazil. The two were once again the two topping the times and the only drivers to get under the 1:11 lap times. Hamilton took pole position with a lap time of 1:10.736, just 0.102 seconds ahead of Rosberg. The latter can clinch the championship if he wins the race on Sunday or leaves with a lead of more than twenty-five points of Hamilton.
Scuderia Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen will line up on the second row of the grid after a fantastic effort to take third during the qualifying session. Fourth place went to Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen. The second Ferrari in the hands of Sebastian Vettel was forced into settle for fifth place ahead of the second Red Bull Racing entry of Daniel Ricciardo. Positions third to sixth were separated by just 0.136 seconds.
One of the stars during the qualifying session was Romain Grosjean as he made it through to the top ten shootout for only the second time this season for the Haas F1 team. He managed to qualify in seventh, breaking into the 1:12 lap times in the process. He also qualified ahead of the two Sahara Force India duo, as Nico Hulkenberg qualified in eighth with Sergio Perez in ninth.
McLaren Honda’s Fernando Alonso rounded out the top ten qualifiers. This was an impressive result after his teammate was unable to make it out of Q1. His weekend had been compromised by having to stop on track on Friday afternoon and by a potential gearbox issue restricting the amount of running he could do on Saturday morning.
During Q2 the battle between Williams Martini Racing and Sahara Force India teams became more intense as Valtteri Bottas and Felipe Massa were both knocked out by the Force India drivers in the final moments of the session by just 0.060 seconds. Williams had been looking strong throughout the practice session but just missed out on getting through to Q3, which will disappoint both drivers massively. Massa will be driving his final Brazilian Grand Prix in Formula One before retiring at the end of the season. The two teammates were separated by Esteban Gutierrez in the second Haas F1 entered car. Gutierrez qualified in twelfth and was also knocked out of Q3 in the closing moments.
The Scuderia Toro Rosso team will be massively disappointed with Daniil Kvyat and Carlos Sainz both finishing down in fourteenth and fifteenth. Newly resigned Renault Sport driver Jolyon Palmer qualified in sixteenth.Palmer locked up at least three times on his fastest lap in Q2. One of the biggest surprises was when McLaren Honda’s Jenson Button failed to make it through to Q2. He finished the qualifying session in seventeenth after suffering with understeer and oversteer. Kevin Magnussen failed to match the pace of teammate Palmer, finishing the qualifying session in eighteenth. The Manor Racing duo of Pascal Wehrlein and Esteban Ocon will fill the penultimate row of the grid ahead of the two Sauber drivers Marcus Ericsson and Felipe Nasr. The latter missing the final practice due to mechanics changing his engine.
©Fay Tilley 13th November 2016