Nico Rosberg extended his run of pole positions to five in a row by beating Lewis Hamilton by less than a tenth of a second at Interlagos.
The Mercedes pair had the battle for the front row all to themselves throughout qualifying, with Sebastian Vettel ending up over half a second off Rosberg in third place.
Soft tyres were the preferred choice of rubber for every driver in Q1: though some initially opted to run on the mediums, with the pace-setting Mercedes drivers choosing the softer tyres everyone soon followed.
Valtteri Bottas held out the longest, eventually ditching his mediums to be sure of a place in Q2. Team mate Felipe Massa, meanwhile, needed a late improvement to secure his place in the next round after being briefly held up by by the other Brazilian on the track – Felipe Nasr. Both made it through, though Massa was unimpressed with the rookie’s driving.
Fernando Alonso was also left deflated after his car broke down for the second day in a row. With both McLaren drivers failing to reach Q2, the pair took to the podium to wave to the crowd.
The Manor drivers failed to make it through as usual. Alexander Rossi,participating in his last F1 qualifying session this year – edged Will Stevens for the second time. The final driver in the drop zone was Pastor Maldonado.
Drivers eliminated in Q1
While most of the remaining drivers were preoccupied with securing a place in Q3, the Mercedes drivers could already take that for granted and were concentration on optimising their strategy for the race.
Hamilton headed the times again with a 1’11.665, while Rosberg was over half a second down on his team mate. “Is that fast enough, do you think?” he asked his race engineer “Shall I try another one?” Tony Ross told him “we will go for lap three”.
Rosberg, knowing he would have to start the race on the tyres he qualified on in Q2, was reluctant to take more life out of them than was absolutely necessary. “That’s really a big compromise,” he said. “That’s got to be quick enough, come on.” Mercedes relented and Rosberg’s gamble was vindicated as only Vettel beat his time before the end of Q2.
Having come close to dropping out in Q1, Massa made it through in Q2 as well, his position secured when Carlos Sainz Jnr failed to reach the top ten with the final lap of the session. The other Toro Rosso of Max Verstappen had already secured a place in the final shoot-out.
However Romain Grosjean was left behind after the Lotus driver spun at Ferradura, damaging his tyres.
Drivers eliminated in Q2
|12||Carlos Sainz Jnr||Toro Rosso-Renault||1’13.045|
|13||Sergio Perez||Force India-Mercedes||1’13.147|
Rosberg was the lead Mercedes driver on the track in Q3, and his efforts were slightly tidier than his team mate’s resulting in a fractionally quicker lap each time. There was just 78 thousandths of a second in it, however, as the number six car captured its sixth pole position of the year.
Behind them the gap between the two Williams drivers remained wide, though with Bottas due to receive a three-place grid penalty he will lose his fourth-place qualifying position between the two Ferraris and end up one place ahead of team mate Massa.
Sebastian Vettel reckoned there was only a few hundredths of a second left in his car at the end of qualifying, while Kimi Raikkonen owned up to an error at Mergulho on his last run.
Despite the potential benefit of the newer Renault power unit, Daniel Ricciardo was slightly slower than his team mate, and he will be moved back ten places on the grid because of that engine change.
Top ten in Q3
|6||Nico Hulkenberg||Force India-Mercedes||1’12.265|
|7||Daniil Kvyat||Red Bull-Renault||1’12.322|
|9||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull-Renault||1’12.417|
|10||Max Verstappen||Toro Rosso-Renault||1’12.739|
2015 Brazilian Grand Prix
- Verstappen takes third Driver of the Weekend win
- The 2015 turn-off goes on in Brazil
- Ericsson contact was a racing incident – Maldonado
- Williams drops Massa appeal on cost grounds
- Was Brazil more proof F1’s overtaking gimmicks aren’t working any more?