Lewis Hamilton has showed his speed since the first practice for the FIA World Championship season finale in Sao Paulo. His first goal was accomplished this afternoon on the Interlagos circuit when he nailed down the Brazilian Grand Prix pole with a flying lap of 1m12.458s; securing his final pole for the McLaren-Mercedes team.
“Pole! What a great feeling!” said the Briton. "I think we've put ourselves in a really good position. We'll make sure we do everything to get the top result."
Hamilton now has 26 poles with the team he will say goodbye to before he moves to the Mercedes works team next year. Hamilton added, “We haven’t had a one-two in a race for quite a long time [Canada 2010], so it would be a great positive for the team if we could achieve it tomorrow. It would be my perfect farewell, in fact.”
Jenson Button was second fastest in the final qualifying round in 2012. Handing McLaren the front row, Button's best lap was a 1m12.513s; 0.055 seconds behind his teammate. It was the fourth time this season that the McLaren drivers were one-two in qualifying.
“It’s great for us to both be on the front row, especially as its Lewis’s last grand prix for the Vodafone McLaren Mercedes team. I’m happy with qualifying. From the front row, you always hope you’re going to drive a calm and orderly race – but it looks like it’s going to rain tomorrow, so that may make things rather less predictable,” said Button.
The good news for the defending two-time champion is his main rival for this year's crown is in starting from the fourth row in eighth with a lap time of 1m13.253s; nearly eight-tenths off the time of Hamilton.
On a positive note, Vettel added, “We’re in good shape and have been quick all weekend, so let’s see what we can do in the race – we will try to do our best.”
Fernando Alonso gave it his best in his Scuderia Ferrari, but did not have the speed, and if he does what he did in the first US Grand Prix in Austin, the Spaniard will definitely be in the hunt for his third title. He is 13 points behind Vettel.
“I think I did a good qualifying and, given how the last few races have gone, my chances of making it to the podium are still intact,” said Alonso who added, “That will be my objective because I know that, at least under normal circumstances, we are not in with a chance of fighting for the win.”
In changing conditions, the field took to the historic circuit for the first segment where they had challenges due to a wet track in numerous places. Cars tip-toed and danced their way onto the main straight, but as the track dried and tires warmed the lap times fell, and fell fast.
Webber did not express any intention of letting his teammate by to aid in his championship drive. "I think that we focus on ourselves tomorrow and do the best race I can," he said. "We know there may be some tricky weather tomorrow. It’s a long grand prix so I’ll be focusing 100 percent of my efforts on my cockpit and getting to the finish line as quickly as possible."
Williams' Pastor Maldonado came in sixth with a time of 1m13.174s. “I’m happy with the qualifying result today. Q1 was a bit close at the end because of the traffic, but the car felt good,” he said.
Nico Hulkenberg, the surprise 2010 pole sitter, drove his Sahara Force India to seventh place with a 1m13.206s, which is more than 1.2s faster than his pole lap of two years ago.
Lotus' Kimi Raikkonen will start ninth after turning a lap time of 1m13.298s.
Mercedes' Nico Rosberg rounded out the top 10 with a 1m13.498s lap time. His teammate Michael Schumacher failed to reach Q3 in his final Formula 1 qualifying session. He said is running a full-wet set up based on Sunday's forecast.
Lotus' Romain Grosjean also qualified lower than expected. He failed to make it out of Q1 after an incident in the final turn, which cost him a front wing and valuable time on a drying track.