Vettel takes record 15th pole position

2011 Brazilian GP qualifying

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Sebastian Vettel set a new landmark with his 15th pole position of the season in qualifying for the Brazilian Grand Prix.

Team mate Mark Webber ran him close but Vettel had a tenth of a second in hand when it mattered in Q3.

The two McLarens share the second row of the grid.


Qualifying began in dry conditions at the Interlagos circuit, but with rain threatening the teams were quick to get the session started. Within a few minutes of the start all 24 cars were out on the track.

Despite Lotus’s hopes of challenging Williams, the usual three teams were eliminated in Q1. Unusually, both HRTs out-qualified the Virgins.

It came down to a contest between the Williams drivers to determine who would reach Q2. A late effort by Rubens Barrichello kept him safe from his team mate at his home track.

Drivers eliminated in Q1

18Pastor MaldonadoWilliams-Cosworth1’14.625
19Heikki KovalainenLotus-Renault1’15.068
20Jarno TrulliLotus-Renault1’15.358
21Vitantonio LiuzziHRT-Cosworth1’16.631
22Daniel RicciardoHRT-Cosworth1’16.890
23Jerome d’AmbrosioVirgin-Cosworth1’17.019
24Timo GlockVirgin-Cosworth1’17.060


Still wary of the prospect of rain, the teams sent their cars out immediately as Q2 began.

Vettel set a 1’12.446 which no-one could get close to at first, and returned to the pits straight afterwards.

Nico Rosberg came closes, a 1’12.569 putting him second in the Mercedes. His team mate languished outside the top ten with his first run before doing a second to make the cut. Even so, he was over a second slower than Rosberg.

Schumacher made it through at the expense of Paul di Resta, while the other Force India of Adrian Sutil reached the top ten.

Felipe Massa was another driver who had to do another run at the end of the session as he came under threat of elimination. Despite an error in the Senna S, he secured a place in Q3.

Bruno Senna made it two home drivers in the final ten, making it through as team mate Vitaly Petrov dropped out.

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Drivers eliminated in Q2

11Paul di RestaForce India-Mercedes1’13.584
12Rubens BarrichelloWilliams-Cosworth1’13.801
13Jaime AlguersuariToro Rosso-Ferrari1’13.804
14Sebastien BuemiToro Rosso-Ferrari1’13.919
15Vitaly PetrovRenault1’14.053
16Kamui KobayashiSauber-Ferrari1’14.129
17Sergio PerezSauber-Ferrari1’14.182


By Q3 the teams had decided the rain wasn’t going to happen and the session followed a more typical pattern.

Vettel once again reeled off a lap that was instantly good enough to put him quickest.

Webber made it a Red Bull one-two while Button, Alonso, Hamilton and Rosberg took up the places behind them.

Vettel went out for a second run and found even more time – delivering a lap of 1’11.918. He needed to, as team mate Webber got within a tenth of a second with his final run, confirming the Red Bull lockout of the front row.

The two McLarens line up behind them, Button in front of Hamilton, followed by Alonso and Rosberg.

Massa and Sutil shared the fourth row in front of Senna and Schumacher – the latter not setting a time, just touring the track on medium tyres having run out of softs.

Vettel’s pole position put him ahead of Nigel Mansell’s 1992 record of setting 14 pole positions in a season. Mansell did so when there were 16 races in a season compared to today’s 19.

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Top ten in Q3

1Sebastian VettelRed Bull-Renault1’11.918
2Mark WebberRed Bull-Renault1’12.099
3Jenson ButtonMcLaren-Mercedes1’12.283
4Lewis HamiltonMcLaren-Mercedes1’12.480
5Fernando AlonsoFerrari1’12.591
6Nico RosbergMercedes1’13.050
7Felipe MassaFerrari1’13.068
8Adrian SutilForce India-Mercedes1’13.298
9Bruno SennaRenault1’13.761
10Michael SchumacherMercedes

2011 Brazilian Grand Prix

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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64 comments on “Vettel takes record 15th pole position”

  1. a Stunning from Vettel! Actually I hoped he was not able to make it but under-1:12 lap really surprised me.

    Nico made me fun when he made remarkable P2 in Q2 but it seems like just luck.

    1. If he matched his Q2 time he would have still have been down in P5-6.

      1. Well IF he was faster(as others did) than Q2 I mean…

    2. Looks like Mercedes have a very powerfull DRS wing!

      1. @becken-lima They are known for having one of the best ones out there.

  2. Red Bull have dominated this track for three seasons now. Only a change in weather can stop them from a 1-2 tomorrow.

    1. Does anyone ever wonder if this would have been a Williams? But they lost Adrian for silly reasons.

  3. Vettel in the press conference did acknowledge that Mansell had less races to get his 14 poles, which really sums up SV’s character. Very humble, anything but arrogant, yet supreme when getting down to business.

    1. Yep, Vettel is annoyingly difficult to dislike. He’s young, modest, charming, honest, dedicated, ambitious, immensely talented, very funny (as F1 drivers go), and he even speaks a bit of Finnish, which goes down very well over here!

      I still can’t get excited about his success, though. I was never a fan of Michael Schumacher when he was dominating the sport, but now that he’s come back, not had immediate success, but kept plugging away, I’ve grown to like him. I’d like to see Vettel have a year or two with an uncompetitive car, or when luck isn’t going his way, to find out how he reacts. That’s not a criticism of him.

      This is a criticism, though: every time he wins or gets a pole, I feel depressed knowing that “the finger” is coming. You’ve even got it in your avatar. It’s not that I want to deprive him of a celebration; I just think he should introduce a little variation. He could try a clenched fist, a V-sign, thumbs up, or maybe even a sign of the horns, which would be appropriate, considering the car he drives.

      1. This is a criticism, though: every time he wins or gets a pole, I feel depressed knowing that “the finger” is coming.

        Well, it’s a trademark now — possibly because so many people have made such a big deal out of it? — and I have a feeling there’s a lot of depression in your future. ;-)

        1. I really found myself on the floor… rolling with laughter…

      2. I’d like to see Vettel have a year or two with an uncompetitive car

        It’s not as if he hasn’t already – the Toro Rosso wasn’t up to much in 2007 and most of 2008.

        1. Indeed he has. I just wonder how come nobody wants to see Hamilton in an uncopetitive car?

          1. Perhaps because we already have seen that, in 2009.

        2. +1.

          We don’t need him with a bad car, we need Alonso, Hamilton, Button (and Schumacher) with cars on pair with Sebastian.

        3. His results with Toro Rosso, including that one victory, were impressive, there’s no denying that. But that was before he became the F1-dominating driver he is now. I think that’s why a lot of people would like to see him struggle for a while. Can he drag a car to race victories and podiums when it has no right to be there, like Alonso can, for example? Will he lose his temperament?

          1. Mclaren is very competitive car. As is Red Bull. Ferrari not so, but firmly third car on the grid. Probably Red Bull is the best. I believe that Vettel makes a difference. Just compare Webber’s results. We just need to decide how good is Webber?

          2. I’d love to think that if he did end up in such a situation and perform admirably, people would finally admit Vettel might actually have some talent. However, I have a feeling that somehow the benchmark would suddenly change once again. It seems people find reasons to dismiss every one of his achievements, and I can’t see why that situation would be an exception!

          3. I have a feeling that somehow the benchmark would suddenly change once again.

            I expect there’s a lot of truth in that.

          4. I feel the the same as you both.

  4. I think the word ‘Qualifying’ needs to be replaced with something Vettel related.

    Honestly,It was over once he put in that first flying lap in Q2,when interestingly the track & air temperatures dropped by a reasonable amount which may have played into RB’s hands but other than that.Who was stopping Seb?

    1. This time i found it pretty exiting though. The last dash that brought Rubens close to the top 10, Schu in DIR out. And Senna in.

      Then when Vettel did that lap 3 tenths faster than Button on his first run, I got the feeling this would be a special one. Seems he really put a lot into it and he’s the only one getting below the 72 seconds for a long time in F1 now.

      1. Actually Massa did at Brazil 2007,1:11:931 grabbing Pole Position from Hamilton

        1. well that is still 4 years ago then!

  5. I hope whatever it is that Red Bull supposedly do in Q3 that they also supposedly won’t have available to them next year won’t actually be available to them next year.

    1. You mean putting Vettel in the car?

      I’m pretty sure they’ll still be doing that. :)

      1. BS… precisely.

    2. As far as I understand it they’re still allowed to push for a good lap next year, so no :P

  6. That was breath-taking from Vettel. Absolutely amazing.

  7. Fantastic run from Vettel! Now, any bets on what the field looks like 100yds past turn 1?
    Hope it rains tomorrow, the great field leveler.

  8. sid_prasher (@)
    26th November 2011, 17:48

    Super run from Vettel. He keeps finding ways to trim his time in Q3 – unbelievable.
    Excellent run from Senna and Sutil as well.
    I think Schumacher is going for a wet set up – he wasn’t 1 second away from Nico during the practice sessions…there is still a good chance it will rain during the race tomorrow…

  9. Quit sure some drivers are in rain setup and Michel is one of them.

    1. Petrov? Maldonado got confirmed from Williams twitter. But for tha rest I’m not sure.

    1. very nicely done!

  10. Pretty good lap by Fernando to be so close to Lewis and so far ahead of Massa.

    1. I’m not disagreeing with you, but it’s not particularly useful to compare Alonso to Massa, as Massa has been so woeful this year.

  11. Fantastic Pole from Vettel. This kid is terrific.

    Looking at it from Race view, i get a feeling Webber will win the race.

    Lewis and Button are evenly matched, but as always in race conditions Alonso is very fast. Let us see he will get the final podium, very likely.

    1. So you expect Button to take out Vettel in the first corner?

      1. Lol no, I expect it to be Webber, Vettel and Alonso in that order. Mccas will finish behind them probably.

        If it rains then I would think it would be Hamilton, Vettel, Button.

  12. 0.2 between HAM and BUT….weird!

    1. @snafu maybe Button was in dry setup and Hamilton in web… same as Alonso and Massa… Poor Massa seem like the discussion with Schumi afect him…

      1. I’m not so sure. According to an article on planetF1 Hamilton says he just wasn’t quick enough. No mention of wet setup. But boy am I hoping he’s set up for the wet!!

    2. Well… this lad Button just keeps coming up the curve. He may actually still surprise us all, all over again. Who knows…

  13. In homage to Nigel Mansell Red Bull did this

    lol… Great record, congrats to him and the team

    1. The race engineer looks like Freddy Mercury!

  14. Fantastic Vetlifying;-)

  15. Stunning lap from Vettel, never saw it coming.

      1. Doing a @lachie impression

        1. Yeah I turned off before they all crossed the line (it was 4am over here). Thanks @F1fanNL for filling in.

          Vettel’s playing on easy mode and it’s just been a sad year. Might have to give it away depending on how Albert Park goes next year, make F1 give me a reason to come back. (ala 2002/2004).

          1. No problem, Lachie. :)

            Maybe we should convince Red Bull to bench Vettel for 5 races next year.
            Just to make things exciting again.

  16. Brundle mentioned during the broadcast that the Raikkonnen deal fell through? Any more info on that?

  17. What was wrong with Nico in Q3? His Q2 lap was half a second quicker. He could’ve qualified 4th-5th.

  18. Great lap by Sebastian. Hoping for a wet race, ALTHOUGH .. we all know Sebastian is very good is the wet, “generally”. Can see Michael finishing in the top 6/7 providing it’s wet. Alonso & Massa will skid off track/have accident if it’s me. The guys who fly in the wet especially are M.Schumacher, Button, Barrichello & (Vettel perhaps). Please anybody win but Vettel or Hamilton. If it’s wet, the opening 3 laps will be CRUCIAL. Enjoy the race.

  19. If its wet, I’d back Vettel to win, but if its changeable then its like rolling a roulette wheel with Button as all the reds o0n his own

  20. Mable Mable arms off the Table
    26th November 2011, 21:06

    Praying for rain tomorrow not to knock Vettel but he and that car are so dominate I don’t want to watch him just cruise around the circuit with a huge lead again. I hope MSC and Alonso were using a wet set-up that would be a nice end to a fairly boring year,

    1. Why boring? We have had more overtakes and more racing to the end, than ever before. OK, Vettel, RBR and Newey came out on top a little too early, but we have seen many very exciting races this year.

  21. Stunning lap from Vettel also hats off to Webber,I guess dispite having two poles position this season this is closest he came beating his team-mate in qualifying. Schumacher went out on medium tyres,does that mean that he will or need to start on that or can he make his choices? All the Brazilian boys did well today.Can’t wait for the race.

  22. I think it’s a great achievement for HRT to have reached and beaten Virgin throughout the season. Who knows what will change with the ownership changing to Marussia next season, but HRT will also have a different approach to 2012.

    1. @Fixy I’m really looking forward to that battle!

  23. Good qualifying session. Great to see Vettel bowing out of 2011 qualifying with a typically dominant P1. It was a bit of a cringe moment when the William’s guys we’re battling over Q2, just because I wanted Barrichello to come out on top, for obvious reasons.

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