Mark Webber, Lewis Hamilton, Jenson Button, Interlagos, 2012

Hamilton on pole with title rivals off the front row

2012 Brazilian Grand Prix qualifying

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Mark Webber, Lewis Hamilton, Jenson Button, Interlagos, 2012Lewis Hamilton heads a McLaren lock-out of the front row on the grid for the Brazilian Grand Prix as he prepares to start his final race for the team.

The championship contenders start outside of the top three places with Sebastian Vettel fourth and Fernando Alonso eighth at the end of Q3.


A rain shower fell at the track ahead of qualifying but stopped before Q1 started. Caterham, Marussia and HRT sent their drivers out immediately and Timo Glock caught Heikki Kovalainen during his first flying lap, leading to a bit of position-swapping between the two.

The front-runners hedged their bets, waiting until the track had dried more before leaving the pits. When they did Hamilton quickly moved to the top of the times and stayed there, but Bruno Senna’s Williams separated the two McLarens at the top of the times.

Vettel cut it fine and was still in 21st place with four minutes to go before getting into the top ten.

Romain Grosjean’s session was ruined when he tried to overtake Pedro de la Rosa on the inside heading towards the start/finish line. The HRT driver appeared not to have seen the Lotus appearing on the left and the pair made contact.

Grosjean suffered damage to his front wing and after crawling back to the pits had one lap left to move up from 19th and gain a place in Q2. He failed to do so, and was eliminated along with the six drivers who had started the session immediately.

Drivers eliminated in Q1

18Romain GrosjeanLotus-Renault1’16.967
19Vitaly PetrovCaterham-Renault1’17.073
20Heikki KovalainenCaterham-Renault1’17.086
21Timo GlockMarussia-Cosworth1’17.508
22Charles PicMarussia-Cosworth1’18.104
23Narain KarthikeyanHRT-Cosworth1’19.576
24Pedro de la RosaHRT-Cosworth1’19.699


Conditions remained stable as Q2 began. All the drivers took to the track straight away except for the McLaren and Red Bull pairs, who sat tight until there was five minutes remaining.

Fernando Alonso led the times initially but Hamilton, using medium compound tyres, beat it comfortably with a 1’13.398.

Vettel found almost two-tenths of a second to beat Hamilton with a 1’13.209 but he was aided, ironically enough, by Felipe Massa, whose Ferrari inadvertently gave him a tow heading towards the start/finish line.

The two Ferrari drivers only just made it into Q3, ending the session in ninth and tenth. But Michael Schumacher couldn’t make it into the top ten with his last effort, saying he made a small mistake at turn one, and qualified 14th for his final Grand Prix.

Pastor Maldonado made it into the top ten but was observed to have driven past a red light indicating he should pull into the weigh bridge during the session.

Drivers eliminated in Q2

11Paul di RestaForce India-Mercedes1’14.121
12Bruno SennaWilliams-Renault1’14.219
13Sergio PerezSauber-Ferrari1’14.234
14Michael SchumacherMercedes1’14.334
15Kamui KobayashiSauber-Ferrari1’14.380
16Daniel RicciardoToro Rosso-Ferrari1’14.574
17Jean-Eric VergneToro Rosso-Ferrari1’14.619


Nico Rosberg was the first driver out on track during Q3. He kicked off the final ten minutes with a steady lap, and although he later improved he ended up in tenth.

The battle for pole position was contested by McLaren and Red Bull but it was Mark Webber, not Sebastian Vettel, who got closest to the silver cars. He took provisional pole position with his final run, producing a lap of 1’12.581.

Both the McLaren drivers beat that with their last efforts, though there wasn’t much in it. Hamilton’s last run was a tenth of a second faster than Webber’s, and Button split the pair of them.

Vettel locked a wheel at turn four on his first lap, which left him behind Alonso initially. But his second run was better, and lifted him to fourth place.

Behind him came one of the Ferraris, but for the second race in a row it was Massa, not Alonso, who produced the quickest time. Alonso could only manage eighth, Maldonado and Hulkenberg separating him from his team mate, with Raikkonen ninth.

With Massa provisionally ahead of Alonso on the grid questions inevitably followed whether Ferrari would choose to incur a gearbox penalty on his car. Team principal Stefano Domenicali told Sky immediately after qualifying they would not.

Top ten in Q3

1Lewis HamiltonMcLaren-Mercedes1’12.458
2Jenson ButtonMcLaren-Mercedes1’12.513
3Mark WebberRed Bull-Renault1’12.581
4Sebastian VettelRed Bull-Renault1’12.760
5Felipe MassaFerrari1’12.987
6Pastor MaldonadoWilliams-Renault1’13.174
7Nico HulkenbergForce India-Mercedes1’13.206
8Fernando AlonsoFerrari1’13.253
9Kimi RaikkonenLotus-Renault1’13.298
10Nico RosbergMercedes1’13.489

2012 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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113 comments on “Hamilton on pole with title rivals off the front row”

  1. I really really really hope Alonso is carrying a wet race setup.

    1. Only way the championship isn’t over @carbon_fibre?

    2. Weather forecast doesn’t predict any rain though. I’ve checked 3 sites and they all say its going to be sunny.

      1. No website I’ve checked says it won’t rain, even the teams say it probably will

      2. The Weather Channel, which is always very accurate, says it’s gonna rain all day tomorrow, and later today too…

        We’ll see… I hope it rains hard !

      3. I wonder which weather forecast site you saw. I never saw sunny forecast.

      4. @sjm @fer-no65 @eggry maybe infy checked the forecast for his local town rather than Sao Paulo :P (comment was made in jest and in good fun)

      5. I almost agree with @infy, most probably it will not rain, but even if it rains it will be like today in Q1 only a few drops. The cloud’s moving to the north clearing in the area of the track thought it looks a little marginally. We’ll see tomorrow .

    3. No he isn’t he said that wet set ups doesn’t exist these days

      1. @tifoso1989 so he is on a wet setup. On a dry setup too :P

        1. For Interlagos in a dry session maximum downforce is required as well as in a wet session

          1. @tifoso1989 yeesh. Did you not catch that I was making a grammatical joke? Because “wet setups” don’t exist (i.e. they’re the same as dry setups) then Alonso is on a dry AND wet setup.

            Interlagos in the dry is, in fact, very insensitive to wing setting. Within reasonable limits – the added braking and traction, and cornering will just about equal out the decreased top speed

          2. @raymondu999 never mind i think i caught the stress of WDC

    4. Mika Salo said that the set up for wet isn’t really that much different these days and drivers can change most of the things that need changing from their cockpits (and front wing can be adjusted in parc ferme).

      1. Indeed. What Alonso should count on is not wet set up but F2012’s characteristics.

        1. @eggry characteristics which have somewhat changed mind you. The Ferrari now is one of the worst at heating its tyres – something which was helping it getting their early-mid season wet advantage.

          1. @raymondu999 you might be right. We won’t know until it actually hits track though.

          2. @eggry we will. The circuit surface in Interlagos is quite special in that it’s one of the most abrasive surfaces, which could spoil up a surprise in terms of such characteristics.

            But looking at the last race in Austin – it was clear as day. Outlaps were 2-3 seconds slower for the Ferrari than for Hamilton/Vettel.

          3. The Ferrari did well at getting the wet tire into the zone. It could still work for them as it is a bit different from the construct of the dry tires.

    5. I live a couple of thousand KM south of Sao Paulo and the weather here is similar, sporadic, brilliant sun then rain, just like today, Sunny all morning and this afternoon a storm came in out of nowhere.

      1. Here in Rio there’s a cold front blowing in this evening, definitely going to rain here, so very probably São Paulo too. All the forecasts are for rain throughout the day, 90+% chance.

  2. For me Lewis is the WDC of 2012.

    1. @moneyr for the statistics and history books Alonso/Vettel (whoever it may end out to be) is the WDC of 2012.

      1. Thanks for clearing that out.

        1. @moneyr cheers, no problem.

    2. I will also be referring to the moneyr tables. History sometimes recalls more than the numbers.

    3. @moneyr That implies that neither Alonso or Vettel have deserved it.

      1. Not totally true. A lot of people can “deserve” something, so do Alonso and Vettel.

    4. Good for you.

    5. I’m with you there @moneyr both these guys have not been better than Lewis.
      Let’s just enjoy Lewis’s victory tomorrow, statistics are not everything (great racing is).

    6. You mean the people’s champ? :D I’m a Lewis fan but I know that F1 is one of the toughest, sometimes the most unfair & cruel sport. You gotta be at the right team at the right time. But its also what makes F1 so interesting & sometimes heart breaking to watch. But I wouldn’t have it any other way. Maybe Seb got the 2010 title with Ferrari’s help but he drove like a champ last year and kept his cool this year to end up leading the title. He might not be the best overtaker (most of his wins came from pole) but he’s the best defensive driver out there. Gotta give him credit for that and the fact that he manages to create a sufficient gap before DRS is enabled. Anyway, other than his off track shenanigans, Lewis has driven brilliantly this season. I just hope he wins this race.

      1. Sort of. =D I’m not here to discredit the other drivers. Obviously at this level everyone knows how to steer. Lewis has been so unlucky and kept his cool whenever the car broke down. He hasn’t let his emotions take over, compared to previous years. Seems like he really changed his attitude when he faces a set-back. That’s why I’m not concerned about his reactions when the Mercedes proves to be a dog of a car.

        1. Good points. Mercedes aren’t doing that well at the moment, but Hamilton has been driving excellently, and should push them pretty high up the order in 2013. They could also be strong in 2014 with the regulation changes (we remember what happened to them with the 2009 reg changes).

  3. Good guy Massa… gives Vettel the tow, then outqualifies Alonso.

    1. or scumbag Massa… whichever way you wanna see it.

      1. ahahahaha… though I really do hope that the old Massa is back to make next year interesting, given that Lewis won’t really get any kind of look in

    2. @fer-no65 Stop arguing on both the sides

        1. Somebody didn’t get the humour. It gave me a laugh!

      1. All he knows is his gut says “maybe”.

  4. Can’t wait for the race. So many questions heading into tomorrow. What will the weather be like? Will Hamilton’s car break down again? Can Massa get in front of the Red Bulls? Will Alonso rediscover his form? Who will ultimately come out on top?

    Hope we are in for a dramatic conclusion to 2012 and may the best man win.

    1. ” Will Hamilton’s car break down again? ”

      NO way ….that would be too cruel

      1. The Mclaren breakdowns seem to alternate so seeing how Jenson had the problems last week, it’s Lewis turn tomorrow

        1. He said *alternate*

          1. Careful you going to give RedBull fans a heart-attack here.

    2. I wouldnt say Alonso has lost his form. Everyone knows Massa is the king of this track.

  5. I think there has been the trend that when Massa excels, Alonso doesn’t do well in qualifying for last several races. I don’t know what has been changed since Asian season but this things happened. Anyway there’s still chance for him but it seems pretty slim now. He need Malaysian scenario but it would be quite hard to repeat. not just Alonso should take top 3 but also Vettel should ruin his race.

    As for Mclaren, I thought Button is the man for the pole since temp drop today but Hamilton made it again. Pole to win and 1-2 would be great good bye for the team. to Alonso win the title, he should lose it though.

    1. Yeah, could be a double blow for Ferrari tomorrow if McLaren get a 1-2

    2. Button has one pole for mclaren. When has he ever been the man for pole? He may get a couple next year.

      Both vet and Alo choked, simply. Vettel most obviously with his off. Maybe vettel chokes more tomorrow. But probably Luca Will be ordering a new Tv again Monday.

      1. ha ha LOL about that tv for luca

    3. I think there has been the trend that when Massa excels, Alonso doesn’t do well in qualifying for last several races. I don’t know what has been changed since Asian season but this things happened.

      I have the same impression. Or the inverse impression, if I can say it. It seems to me that something happened, as the moment when Massa started improving his game coincided whit the moment when Alonso’s performance started suffering. I have no idea if this happened because of the way the car developed, or the internal balance in the team (the one that is invisible to us). One can say that Alonso has been more cautious trying to add points instead of going all out. I don’t believe it, as it was evident since Vettel had two and then three wins in a row that Alonso’s attitude would not be enough. In any case, for the first time Alonso (to me, the most complete driver on the grid, even if I can’t stand his persona) MAY BE feeling the pressure. Maybe. In any case, it must be a very difficult time for Ferrari.
      I hope we have a good race tomorrow.

      1. i think you are right

  6. In any case – I hope the race doesn’t have climate changes. If it is to be wet – let it stay wet. If it’s to be dry – let it stay dry. I want the race to be fully between wets and inters, or fully on the dries.

  7. It must be a bit deflating when Mark Webber does a banger of a lap and the only thing they ask him in the press conference is “Will you help Sebastian tomorrow”?

    1. I hate that interviewer…
      They never give Webber a break. It’s always “So, about Vettel…” and never “Well done on a good lap; what went well for you?”

      I remember Webber got Pole once (or was it a win)… Skipped Mark and went straight to asking Vettel questions, and Mark was like ” I AM in the middle for a reason.”

      1. glad he is ahead of vettel

      2. They did the same thing to Massa at Monza. Maybe it’s because Webber and Massa aren’t in the title race?

        1. Yes but common courtesy would dictate that they ask the person on how their day was. I’m admittedly not the biggest Webber fan but when I saw that I wished he just gave the interviewer a **** you. He out qualified Vettel today and deserves the credit for it.

          1. Indeed. The interviewers should probably concentrate on what happened, and give credit where credit is due.

    2. I hope he does not have the curse of Kers

    3. Who stole his hat?

  8. Pressure has definetly affected both Vettel and Alonso’s qualifying I think. Their teammates were clealy ahead (although they have much less to lose)! Vettel just needs to have an added element of caution but not so much that he loses focus. Alonso will be pushing incredibly hard as he needs a podium to win the championship and to do that he needs to gain 5 positions at least.
    Wet weather may aid him though…

    1. @vettel1, cheer up Max, I wouldn’t be surprised if Sebs set-up is just a little compromised in case it rains, after all he only needs to finish close to Alonso to take the title. I expected Mark to be fast, the team will send him out as the hare to put pressure on Alonso, and prevent him from winning, but it looks like the McLarens are going to help out there so all should be fine just as long as Vettel keeps out of trouble.

      1. @hohum – I may have given a false impression with that comment but I’m pretty satisfied with that qualifying result!

      2. I don’t think so. Vettel said in post quali interview that because he botched up his first run he went more cautiously in his second as he needed a banker lap to make sure he is in front of Alonso.

  9. Am i the only one thinking there are some dangerous parts on the Interlagos track?
    Here are two things that seems really strange to me:

    1. One thing to mention is that there are massive gradient changes in those areas, and so the barriers or lack of may have a function that isn’t visible on the aerial shots you link to. Could be wrong though.

      To me the pit lane is the most dangerous part of the track, and to be honest, I hope they don’t change the last sector (like I believe they were going to do?)

    2. I honestly don’t think those areas are particularly dangerous. To me the worst part is the wall on the right side of the track at the entrance of the main straight. Because of a stand that exists there, the wall approaches the track at a very dangerous angle. If a car crash on that wall in that point, it bounces back to the track, where other cars are coming flat. In 2003, Webber hit the wall in that point, and bounced to track when Alonso was entering the straight. Alonso ended in a hospital. In the same point a Turismo driver, Gustavo Sodermann, died two years ago.
      The other point, clearly, is the pit entrance: the cars take the left side of the track at full speed and if there is a slower car entering the pits there will be trouble.

    3. @francorchamps17

      Am i the only one thinking there are some dangerous parts on the Interlagos track?

      There are dangerous parts on all of the tracks, they’re called corners ;-)

      Motorsport is dangerous, it says so on the ticket, that’s part of the attraction and, in my opinion at least, it’s not the tracks that are dangerous, it’s the cars (more specifically the cornering speeds that are possible due to the amount of downforce on modern F1 cars) that is the most dangerous thing of all and that it’s time we started making significant changes to the cars instead of destroying the layout and characteristics of amazing circuits such as Interlagos.

  10. Is the writing on the wall for Alonso?

    1. The writing is on the track, it just needs washing away with a spot of rain.

      1. very good @john-hi like this!

  11. I don’t think Massa’s penalty would benefit Ferrari this time. Even though Alonso is on the dirty side of the track, it isn’t the same kind of issue here than it was in Austin. Also, Massa is directly behind Vettel and thus he could be able to “destroy” Vettel’s race, or atleast be a nuisance.

    1. Indeed. Ferrari would be mad to put him back. They’ll be focussing on getting Massa to take Vettel into turn 1, a distinct possiblity from the cleaner side (if dry race) seen as the track has will have had a few more rain washings than on a dry weekend.

      1. The bad think for Alonso is not the dirty side, its the inside line where his grid position is. Its difficult to gain places from the inside line at the start . In Austin he gained places not only because he was on the clean side but also because he choose the outside line to overtake. This is impossible here (due to his grid position) also because the start is too close to the first corner.If he choose the inside line (which is the more logical) then he must be very careful if he tries to overtake so he’s not get closed-hit from the guy outside in front.

  12. I expected Hamilton to take it, but great job from Jenson to get so close. Alonso looked more like he was in a wrestling match than an F1 race: of the top teams, Ferrari has definitely been behind in the development race for the last few seasons. They’ve just not brought enough (working) improvements to their cars. Felipe is driving brilliantly at the moment though. I think he has a better chance of getting past Vettel on the start & giving him a bit of grief, rather than the team sacrificing him, hoping Alonso catches up. That’s probably the only reason why Ferrari aren’t making him take another one for the team. Nice to see Webber outpace Vettel as well… Vettel does crack when he’s under a lot of pressure sometimes… makes quite a few mistakes when he’s forced to push hard, it seems. No doubt we’ll hear a bit of moaning on the radio if Massa manages to pip him going into turn one: Felipe is usually quick here, & he’s difficult to pass on most days. That said, if it does rain tomorrow it’ll be a tricky scenario for everyone.

  13. So Hamtilto 17, Button 3
    In three years, hamilton wins 44 to 14
    Notice that when button beats hamitlon in qualifying its due to car failure (like this year in japan), rain (germany) or set-up gambles (belgium 2012 or monza 2010 ). Jenson is very strong in china he beated lewis there in 2011 an 2010 but apart from that in qualifying he has been overshadowed by hamilton.

    1. Not even in 2011 China technically. JB did 2 laps in order to just pip LH as LH saved a set of tires for the race after his debacle in Malaysia.

  14. I don’t think there is any chance for Alonso…Allthings are against Alonso. Even if it rains it does make much difference. Seb is one of the fastest guys in rain.

    1. If it rains, much of it will be run behind the SC and assuming Alonso is not where he needs to be to challenge Vettel then it just reduces the amount of time he has to make up positions.

  15. I don’t think there is any chance for Alonso…All things are against Alonso. Even if it rains it does not make much difference. Seb is one of the fastest guys in rain.

  16. A great pole lap from Hamilton yet only half-tenth faster than Button, don’t know where exactly Button lost the time. Last minute effort from Webber was paid off. Although Webber was saying that his focus is on his race tomorrow RBR will definitely be wanting him to help Vettel. Alonso was struggling in his car in comparison to Massa who was able to pull a couple of tenths out of his in the last few laps. Ferrari clearly denied that they have gone for any wet set-up. Really makes me wonder if it is Massa who’s improved his performance or is any of the new updates specific to Alonso’s car is making him work harder! The official F1 website predicts rain tomorrow, if that really happens then we are guaranteed for one of the epic races and championship battles in F1’s history!

    1. @hari, Webber can best help Vettel by being on the podium with the 2 McLarens.

      1. @hohum But the rain can change things.

        1. If you mean anything can happen, you don’t even need rain for that.

  17. Christian Horner has to have broken the record for most interviews with the BBC at this stage. They always interview him at every GP!

    1. I wonder if they might as well just do 1 interview with him and every time after just use that interview as ‘stock’ footage

      1. “Great job Christian” he says to himself after every one.

    2. @colm, Red Bull is not so much a drinks company as it is a marketing company, got to get that name and logo in front of as many people and as often as they can.

      1. @hohum I don’t understand why people complain about stuff like this. He’s the team principal of the outfit that’s just won the constructors’ championship for the third year in a row and his driver’s in the hunt for the drivers’ title as well. Of course BBC should be interviewing him. From what I’ve seen of their coverage they interview Marthin Whitmarsh and Stefano Domenicali often too.

        1. To add to what Keith was implying, Sky interview him as frequently as BBC do to say the least, so as much as i’m honestly perturbed with Horner constantly being interviewed by the broadcasters, it’s for comprehensive reasons, reasons which Keith mentioned in his comment.

        2. @keithcollantine, Absolutely, I totally agree, this is where the money for the racing comes from.

    3. What I don’t understand, and maybe people closer to BBC or Sky can shed some light on this: why is not Ferrari more present in their shows? I always see these big interviews with Martin Witmarsh or Christian Horner, no matter how good or bad their team has done in that event, but Ferrari didn’t appear much in the broadcasts until the closing stages of the season. I understand that they are based in Italy and RB and McLaren have lots of fans in the UK, but is that the only reason?

      1. I can only speak for Sky but Martin Brundle has done some really neat features with the Ferrari team this season.

        However aside from that you are right that Ferrari not interviewed as often (and when they are it’s only ever Alonso) but I think its to do with the fact that they probably have something written down meaning that they do features with the Italian/Spanish media before the British.

        I guess its also easier for communication as, aside from Rob Smedley, most of the major Ferrari staff have English as a second language while in Red Bull and McLaren, more of the top staff have it as their first.

        1. There is also a good chance that the Italian press get most of Ferraris time just by force of numbers.

        2. Martin has said some horrid things about Alonso on live air, especially during the time when Alonso was fighting Lewis (Martins homey :P)

          Since then, Alonso has pretty much blacklisted him. You can pickup on it during the gridwalks. Martin often hints at how Alonso will not speak to him.

  18. About that missed weight check. I’m very surprised that they decided to do that with not much left in Q2. Maldonado was going into the pits, he had to change tyres and then try to get into Q3. That’s exactly what he did, but if he stopped for the weight check he probably wouldn’t have had a lot of time to do his job (I don’t know how much it takes to complete this kind of check, though).

    It seems a bit unfair.

  19. Hamilton has matched Vettel’s pole positions this year and if he wins the race tomorrow he would be at par with Vettel on race wins. If you include Spain then he would have been on pole and front row more than any driver this season. It’s a real shame his points doesn’t reflect that. He definitely should have been fighting for the championship this year. Whitmarsh will be answering some tough questions from key stakeholders.

    1. Hamilton has 7 pole positions (without that at Spain) VS 6 poles for Vettel.
      If we hypothetical had the alternative points system with the medals (which once proposed) then in the scenario of both with 5 wins, Vettel still would be champion with 3x2nd places VS 0 for Hamilton.

      1. cosmas you are right it’s. Whichever points system you use, i think vettel will still be in the lead. Hamilton’s pole and wins just goes to show how much points Maclaren has thrown away due to failures and pitstop errors

        1. also shows that the RB8 isn’t necessarily the quickest car and the only thing giving an advantage to Vettel. Vettel is a very fast driver and qualifier. In fact, considering the pace in the McLaren last Saturday in Austin, Hamilton and Webber’s exchange about the quickness of the Redbull and then the pace Hamilton had in the race, I’d say Vettel’s pole last week was definitely down to the driver, not the car.

  20. Ooooh that was my best prediction to date!!! Hamilton for pole with 01:12.453 only 5 thousands out :(

    Great Qualifying, looking forward to tomorrow.

  21. It’d be good to see how the Mclarens perform tomorrow, since Lewis leads Jensen by only 10 points over their tally for their 3 year partnership.

  22. Guess it’s fair to say the two have been neck and neck throughout the partnership :D

  23. So after all this big talk of Massa taking out Vettel in turn 1, sadly to say Vettel will just simply jump Webber at the start and maybe Jenson Button as well.

    1. Likely but those Ferraris are like dragsters. I’d be surprised if Seb’s ahead of Felipe at turn one. Other than the McLarens, the Hulkster & Felipe hold the key to the race & WDC. When it comes to rain, Lewis & Seb are both up there with Schumi! Can’t wait, gonna be an awesome race! I went through a whole pack of smokes last race. Guess it’ll be two packs this race! :)

    2. If Massa does crash into Seb, he will undoubtedly be accused of doing it on purpose, even though his personality shows he would never do it.

      Personally I’d be more worried about Vettel crashing into Alonso. Vettel is very hard to read.

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