The one unknown for the Brazilian Grand Prix is the weather. The track temperature was scorching and caused blistering in Friday’s Free Practice 2 session but a 30-degree difference in the morning with much cooler weather.
Qualifying started with overcast skies but the cars were setting pace with the 2004 times with a brand new tarmac surface and soft compound tires. The new track surface presented many challenges but did start to rubber in and traction slowly came to the cars as qualifying started.
The blistering on the rear tires and graining on the fronts in hot temperatures might only be eclipsed if there should be a wet race where traction might be near impossible to drive on with the oils of the new surface on top and a damp track.
Qualifying started with an angry radio message from Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso having been sent out behind a Sauber to start his qualifying lap in Q1. Sebastian Vettel was equally struggling with the wrong charging setting in his ERS in which to make a flying lap.
Both Mercedes led Q1 with times over two seconds faster than the teams were setting on Friday. Rosberg led Hamilton as Grosjean, Vergne, Perez and Maldonado were all eliminated in the session. Both Red Bulls struggle to advance to Q2.
Q2 started on a track that was 50-degrees cooler (Fahrenheit) than it was on Friday. Ferrari was struggling with handling during the session and Adrian Sutil ran off the circuit on his first flyer.
Toro Rosso’s Daniil Kvyat decided not to out during Q2 due to a knock-on penalty for grid penalty he acquired in the USGP last week which would have him started at the back of the grid.
Rosberg led Q2 with a 1:10.303 followed by both Williams F1 cars of Massa and Bottas. Alonso squeaked into Q3 finishing 10th while Gutierrez, hulkenberg, Sutil and Kvyat were eliminated.
The third session started with Hamilton and Rosberg out on track early setting banker laps and Lewis’s first flyer was not fast enough to hold off Rosberg. Williams were looking very competitive during all three sessions and Valtteri Bottas was hanging it all out on his first flyer but teammate and hometown hero, Felipe Massa, was still faster and only a tenth off of the leading Mercedes.
Nico Rosberg set a new pole record in Brazil as he nipped the position away from his teammate, Lewis Hamilton, on the final lap. Hamilton finished in second while Massa led his teammate, Bottas, to third and fourth respectively.
Both Red Bull and Ferrari struggle with none of their drivers finishing ahead of 6th but perhaps the tip of the hat has to be made for McLaren’s Jenson Button who claimed 5th.
|6||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull/Renault||1m10.938s||0.915s|
|9||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull/Renault||1m11.075s||1.052s|
|12||Nico Hulkenberg||Force India/Mercedes||1m11.976s||–|
|15||Jean-Eric Vergne||Toro Rosso/Renault||1m12.040s||–|
|17||Daniil Kvyat||Toro Rosso/Renault||–||–|
|18||Sergio Perez||Force India/Mercedes||1m12.076s|