Interlagos: Free Practice 3 & Qualifying

Free Practice 3:

  • Ferrari: Alonso has an unidentified object flapping from his rear wing. It later transpires his DRS is not working, the team replaces the actuator (that part that opens the flap), and Alonso is back out on track. Massa is not having a great time at his home race. Alonso is the first driver of the weekend to dip under 1:13.
  • Force India: The team are happy with their progress, both drivers are inside the top ten with the prime tyre.
  • Hispania: Ricciardo is behind Liuzzi by just under a tenth.
  • Lotus: Trulli gets ahead of Kovalainen in the final seesion by 2 tenths.
  • McLaren: Button is unhappy with his visor and has a Massa-esque moment when he complains he can’t see anything out of it. Quick change and he’s out again. Both drivers have changes made to the front end of their cars, Button has shifted the weight forward and Hamilton has added more front wing.
  • Mercedes: Schumacher is keeping in touch with the front runners tucking himself behind Alonso halfway through the session.
  • Red Bull: Vettel tussles with Button for the top spot 20 minutes in, and ultimately wins the fight with Webber not too far behind.
  • Renault: Senna is the first to set a time, with Petrov soon after just pipping him. Senna had engine issues that hindered the number of laps he could complete.
  • Sauber: Kobayashi is the first man out of the blocks.
  • Toro-Rosso: Buemi’s car is in the pits with major attention from the team, on stands the panels are being stripped to access the engine/gearbox area. It’s a hydraulics issue according to the driver who doesn’t get to set a time in his last chance
  • Williams: Barrichello’s day went well in front of his home crowd as he dragged his car up to 12th overall. Maldonado was only 2 tenths behind in 15th.
  • Virgin: With his time seemingly limited with the team d’Ambrosio makes the most of it to get ahead of both Hispanias and his team mate.

Top FP3 times:

Position Driver Team Time
1 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull 1:12.460
2 Jenson Button McLaren 1:12.547
3 Mark Webber Red Bull 1:12.597

Read: Full FP3 Results

Qualifying:

Q1

Toro Rosso, Team Lotus and Virgin are out early befor being followed by McLaren as the search for clean air begins. Rain is a threat from the start, giving reason for some of the bigger names making an early appearance. Trulli, while on a timed lap, is locking up around the track. Vettel is warned about the rain and told to ‘deal with the traffic’ and get out on track. 15 minutes left and everyone is out on track, with Massa being the last to leave his garage. Buemi had a spin at turn 10 but manages to save it and continue. Webber is told the rain shouldn’t be an issue with 13.5 minutes left. It’s the usual suspects down the time sheets with Force India looking in good shape inside the top 10, with Renault knocking on the door. Again the fight centres around the first drop out zone, Williams, Lotus and Buemi are fighting to stay afloat. It’s Rosberg’s turn to be warned about the rain with 5 minutes left. Those with the options on start to trouble the top ten, but the times won’t trouble the teams as their drivers are on primes. Massa goes out on the options to ensure his pass into Q2, with 1.5 minutes left he’s down in P13. It’s a grudge match between the Team Lotus pair as they fight to out qualify each other, Kovalainen wins and Maldonado is the ‘other guy’. Hispania will start ahead of the Virgin duo.

Drop zone: MAL, KOV, TRU, LIU, RIC, DAM, GLO

Q2

The rain is creeping ever closer and the field leaps onto the track to get that all-important banker lap in before the heavens open. All are out on the option tyre to get the best time. Rosberg is the first to surprise with 11.5 minutes left he slips into second between Vettel and Button. Sectors times are being swapped between drivers. Massa is still struggling to get close to Alonso and has Sutil splitting them. Force India are inside the top ten with 8.5 minutes left but have already burned through 2 sets of options to get there. Schumacher is unhappy with the balance of his car and is outside the top 10 after the first run. Alguersuari is first to go out for the second run, where it is expected the top 6 are expected to stay put in their respective garages. The threat of rain seems to have passed but the threat of the drop out zone is ever apparent. Massa has to go out again to avoid a home race embarassment, on his penultimate flying lap he takes too much kerb at turn 3. Buemi has a ‘loss of power’ with 40 second left. Schumacher displaces di Resta, but it is Senna that looks set to give the fans something to cheer about as he secures P9 and out qualifies Petrov.

Drop zone: DIR, BAR, ALG, BUE, PET, KOB, PER

Q3

Rosberg, having gone a second faster than Schumacher, is first out in the last session, hoping to emulate his Q2 form. Hamilton is the only other driver to join him in the first 2.5 minutes. Rosberg sets a slow first timed lap as he readies himself, Hamilton is doing the same indicating tyre warm up/preparation is important. Vettel sets a mighty 1:12.2 halfway through the session as serious marker for everyone else. Only 6 drivers have set a lap time with 3.5 minutes left, but Sutil is eager to join the action. Vettel joins the track again and triggers the rest of the field to go for a second run. Schumacher goes out on mediums. Senna goes out on a new set of options, putting on a great show for the crowds and his team ahead of next year. Vettel is  finding more time in the final minute to go sub 1:12 and takes his 15th pole position to become the record holder for most pole positions in a single season. Webber gets within a tenth and Button qualifies in the top 10 for the first time in 6 years. Final race and another Red Bull front row lock out.

Top Qualifying times:

Position Driver Team Time
1 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull 1:11.918
2 Mark Webber Red Bull 1:12.099
3 Jenson Button McLaren 1:12.283

Read: Full Qualifying Results

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