Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Interlagos, 2016

Hamilton beats Rosberg to pole in tense session

2016 Brazilian Grand Prix qualifying

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The anticipated rain turned out to be little more than drizzle. But the contest for pole position was fiercely fought between the two Mercedes drivers.

Lewis Hamilton led all three sessions but team mate Nico Rosberg was never far behind as they vied for the pole position for tomorrow’s potentially championship-deciding race.

The 11th pole of the season for Hamilton secured him this year’s Pole Position Trophy.


Daniil Kvyat, Toro Rosso, Interlagos, 2016
Brazilian Grand Prix qualifying in pictures
The entire field hit the track within seconds of the session starting as clouds gathered at Interlagos. Concerned about the possibility of rain, the two championship contenders led their rivals out of the pits.

Hamilton wasted no time in banging in a quick lap which was the fastest of the weekend up to that point. A 1’11.511 left him comfortably three-tenths clear of his team mate.

Max Verstappen took third ahead of the two Ferraris. The second Red Bull of Daniel Ricciardo was next following a compromised preparation lap.

There was little change in the fight to escape the drop zone as most of the remaining drivers found themselves in traffic. The Sauber pair occupied the final row behind the two Manors.

Jenson Button was visibly unhappy with his car’s balance and locked up on his last effort as he ended up half a second shy of his team mate. He was laps 17 thousandths slower than Jolyon Palmer, who beat him to the final place in Q2.

Drivers eliminated in Q1

17Jenson ButtonMcLaren-Honda1’13.276
18Kevin MagnussenRenault1’13.410
19Pascal WehrleinManor-Mercedes1’13.427
20Esteban OconManor-Mercedes1’13.432
21Marcus EricssonSauber-Ferrari1’13.623
22Felipe NasrSauber-Ferrari1’13.681


Hamilton repeated his feat from Q1 by producing another fastest lap to lead Rosberg. Hamilton was fractionally slower than his team mate through the first two sectors but found almost two-tenths in the run from Juncao to the finishing line.

Williams had shown promising pace compared to their rivals Force India throughout practice, but were stung in the second part of qualifying. Valtteri Bottas believed his 1’12.420 would secure him a place in Q3 and opted not to run again but was caught out.

Both Force India drivers made it into the 1’12.3s and were surprisingly joined by Fernando Alonso’s McLaren and the Haas of Romain Grosjean. Bottas therefore missed the cut by six-hundredths of a second and his team mate was also eliminated in his final home race.

The two FW38s were joined by the Toro Rosso pair plus the second Haas of Esteban Gutierrez and Jolyon Palmer’s Renault.

Drivers eliminated in Q2

11Valtteri BottasWilliams-Mercedes1’12.420
12Esteban GutierrezHaas-Ferrari1’12.431
13Felipe MassaWilliams-Mercedes1’12.521
14Daniil KvyatToro Rosso-Ferrari1’12.726
15Carlos Sainz JnrToro Rosso-Ferrari1’12.920
16Jolyon PalmerRenault1’13.258


Rosberg continued to chip away at the gap to his team mate in the top ten shoot out. But each time of asking Hamilton had just enough in hand.

Hamilton broke into the sub-71s times with his first run, lowering the mark to a 1’10.860. Rosberg couldn’t match that, posting a 1’11.022 despite gaining time at the end of the lap where Hamilton had been stronger.

The final laps began with Hamilton ahead of Rosberg on the road. Rosberg was quicker through the first sector and gave away just four-hundredths to Hamilton in the middle of the lap.

It all came down to the final sector. On the long climb from Juncao Hamilton was faultless, and he returned to the start line one minute, 10.736 seconds after he crossed it. Rosberg was next – and took a tenth of a second longer.

But it had been close. “It was all in the last sector, Nico,” his engineer told him. “You were over a tenth slower than your previous lap.”

Behind the duelling Mercedes the Ferrari of Kimi Raikkonen appeared in a somewhat surprised third, having not had a good start to his final lap. He will share row two with Max Verstappen, followed by their respective team mates.

While the focus was on the championship contenders, Romain Grosjean produced a stunning lap in his Haas to claim seventh ahead of the Mercedes-powered customer teams.

Top ten in Q3

1Lewis HamiltonMercedes1’10.736
2Nico RosbergMercedes1’10.838
3Kimi RaikkonenFerrari1’11.404
4Max VerstappenRed Bull-TAG Heuer1’11.485
5Sebastian VettelFerrari1’11.495
6Daniel RicciardoRed Bull-TAG Heuer1’11.540
7Romain GrosjeanHaas-Ferrari1’11.937
8Nico HulkenbergForce India-Mercedes1’12.104
9Sergio PerezForce India-Mercedes1’12.165
10Fernando AlonsoMcLaren-Honda1’12.266

2016 Brazilian Grand Prix

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Author information

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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55 comments on “Hamilton beats Rosberg to pole in tense session”

  1. “Raikkonen’s well past his prime”. “What a waste of that Ferrari seat”. “He should retire”. I’ve heard or read these
    statements a million times in the last 2 or 3 years and yet he’s been showing Vettel the way for most of the second half of the season.

    1. And I bet he’ll finish ahead of Vettel in the championship if not this year, then next year for certain.

    2. I will admit, I had thatnegative mentality about Kimi after 2014 and 2015, but in 2016 he’s matched Vettel and in the second half he’s been slightly better. I’ve come to the conclusion that Kimi is starting to find his 2005 form again, and Vettel is just not that good.

      1. Well if kimi Really found his actual 05 Form Vettel Might actually still be pretty awesome ;-)

        1. Sem (@05abrahamsemere)
          12th November 2016, 17:33


        2. Vettel’s not that awesome if Kimi is 37 and is beating him.

          1. being 37 doesn’t make you slow, they’re just both great drivers

      2. @ultimateuzair Kimi outqualifies Vettel a couple of times and all of a sudden he is back to his ’05 form? Faster than Vettel? I have no problem with anyone disliking a driver but it’s quite rubbish that you’d even consider Kimi being a better driver than Vettel, that does not imply one can have better performances on a weekend though. The amount of points Vettel has lost this season both due to reliability, Ferrari screwing him over and himself being a bit rash is immense and still he is 9 points ahead of this sudden marvellous Kimi.

        1. Everyone loves Kimi, he is adorable, especially when his rubish lap lands him third place.

          Vettel is to good to be universially loved. Kinda like people hate on Hamilton aswell…

        2. I never said that Kimi was overall the better driver. All I said was that Kimi is finding his 05 form and I also never said that he found it. I just find it surprising that Kimi is much older than Vettel and nearing retirement age, but is consistently beating Vettel in qualifying at the moment.

        3. Are you saying Kimi didn’t lose any points through reliability or strategy or pit-stop fails this year? On raw talent I believe Raikkonen is a match if not better than Vettel, but I agree that’s difficult to prove because they are of different generations.

          1. @sravan-pe Also kimi Is lazy as the slangword for procreation :D

        4. Porsche you must admit Seb looks extremely frustrated and under pressure, hardly preforming and acting like a 4x WC.

        5. “Kimi outqualifies Vettel a couple of times”… Actually they are now 10-10 in qualifying, so they are equally matched in that regard :)

          In terms of reliability they both have suffered a DNF three times but Seb also suffered a DNS. And they both faced grid penalties for changing the gearbox: Seb three times and Kimi twice. Taking into account the points that Kimi lost because Seb crashed into him in China and Spa (he had qualified in 3rd place both times) then the sum of points they both lost for causes unrelated to their driving is quite similar.

    3. The real question is – has Kimi overperformed or has Vettel underperformed?

      1. I really don’t believe Vettel has underperformed which leaves only one conclusion. The gap’s not enormous but still a faster lap is a faster lap.

        1. @sravan-pe, mind you, Vettel did have major brake issues in qualifying – part of the reason why he was so late out of the garage at the start was because the team were still working on his car in order to get him out there – so that does in part seem to explain why he was a little off the pace in qualifying.

          1. kimi has much older mileage engine zzzz

          2. Exactly. All this ‘Kimi is better than Vettel’ mindless chatter should be saved for when the season concludes. As it stands SV is ahead of his teammate – which alone is incredible given his issues throughout the year.

          3. Kansas, is there that much of a difference in mileage by now?

            Although Vettel is onto a sixth engine, that was because he had a total engine failure in Bahrain (Kimi had a turbocharger failure in Australia – a problem, to be sure, but not as critical as losing an entire engine). He was out of sequence with his engine use earlier in the season, but by now I would have thought that they would be on similar engine mileages – unless you can provide clear evidence that there is a major discrepancy in engine mileage?

          4. RE kansas to be fair, most of Vettels issues this year where caused between his ears. Oddly enough a sizeable portion of Kimis problems was also caused between Vettels ears.

    4. Vettel isn’t dumb, it’s strategy. He’s smartly kept Grosjean out of his team-mate’s seat, and will be looking to do the same for next year also. If it turns out he’s not battling for the WDC after the first handful of races, I think he’ll happily turn down his performance once again.

      1. Interesting theory. Interesting, still nonsense. Most likely.

  2. Regarding the point from Rosberg’s engineer, he did a 16.619 in the final sector on his first lap in Q3 and a 16.750 on the second. A difference of 0.131 seconds, and he lost pole by 0.102. So he did indeed lose it in the final sector.

    1. That’s fine but nevertheless, a champion pulls it out the bag when it matters. Nico didn’t.

      1. He did pull it out of the bag and it did matter. But he is racing Lewis Hamilton third greatest qualifier of all time.

        Beating Lewis when Lewis is on form and focused goes far beyond a.typical world champion.

        1. Put Lewis in a Sauber and see what a great driver he is. Look at Button.

      2. Nico isn’t a champion yet. Have you forgotten what happened to Lewis in 2007 or plenty others in the past?
        But kudos for the ego boost.

        1. I think you misunderstood my comment.

    2. Do you think it’s feasible that drivers change lines on each run just to keep the team mate guessing or would it work against them ultimately? Albeit they’re minor adjustments but it could ultimately mean the difference in pole position?

      Generally the gap between the two, if they’re both performing, is generally sub 3 hundredths…

      1. I would say they could do that in their first year as team mates but probably not again after that. These two have been together for four years now so I doubt there’s anything left they can surprise each other with.

    3. Thanks for clearing that up, @keithcollantine 👍

    4. I thought so. I noticed on the broadcast that Hamilton crossed the line just before he went past the 2nd sector line, so when it said he was 2 hundredths up, that was on Hamilton’s pole time, which is why I was so surprised he ended up a tenth down.

    5. yes but the real difference in both Q3 laps was S2, which gives the momentum into uphill S3. Lewis ran a 36.487 to Rosberg’s 36.616 in their first run and it was 36.36 and 36.408 for the second run. In fact, it’s S1 where Rosberg was quickest every time, though Lewis was notably closest on his first Q3 run, 0.003s slower.

  3. Few things to take from this quali:

    – Mightily close between Hamilton and Rosberg, it’s awesome to see both drivers performing to their best at the end of a title battle and not showing any signs of cracking under pressure.

    – Same to be said with the Red Bulls and Ferraris. Kimi seems to be back to somewhere near his old self, especially over one lap

    – Slightly disappointed in Williams and Alonso however. Felt they had the measure of Force India all weekend thus far but just dropped the ball when it mattered and that’s where I give Grosjean his dues for placing his car where it shouldn’t have been.

    1. I would agree with everything you have said except the ‘disappointment in alonso’
      I think the fact that he is more regularly is making Q3 is really impressive tbh.

      1. @khanistanf1 Which is more the reason to be disappointed in him. The fact he’s in Q3 virtually on a regular basis, McLaren taking a step forward with their package this season and their weekend form being better than their midfield rivals justifies my view (Button even said this weekend that McLaren could’ve been best of the test behind Mercedes, Red Bull and Ferrari).

        But each to their own I guess.

    2. @younger-hamii : “Grosjean … his car where it shouldn’t have been.” So where should he have been? Bottom end of quali 1’13.6″, pole 1’10.8″ — average 1’12.2″. Grosjean 1’11.9″, so definitely well above average, therefore well above mid-field.
      Are you trying to say that a $150+ million Haas that includes some Ferrari technology shouldn’t go that fast? Particularly now that they’ve replaced Brembo with Carbone Industrie?
      I’ve always thought (although I never get personal) that Grosjean had possibilities — so today’s 7th on grid, one third from the top, two thirds from the bottom, seems about right.

  4. I’m pretty sure Bottas came out and did a final lap but made a mistake?

    1. @lolzerbob,
      That is true. He did do a lap. It was just a tiny error at the start of it that cost him I think. Enough to cost him a top 10 start.

      But anyway, 11th has been a good starting position several times for him this season. I still have a feeling he will beat both Force India’s in the race as I still think the Williams has more pace here. And he’ll have the advantage of starting on a fresh set of tyres.

  5. Interesting to watch Ham’s Ros’s side-by-side cockpit lap. As usual, Ham takes a little more kerb, tighter trajectory, more of the V style, but very small margins until that is as in the past couple seasons, the last corner, not only Ham takes more kerb but he also gets better traction and he takes the shortest line to the chequered flag, very intelligent lines from Lewis. Curious to note that Hamilton sits considerably further than Ham from the steering wheel, again smart thinking, put more weight on the back.

    I think some cars might be set up for rain hence the McLaren doing so well and some teams under performing.

  6. Sure remember the outcry about Nico getting poles because Lewis made mistakes.
    On a different note, and to be actually consistent, Lewis got this fair and square.

  7. i hope lewis finishes the season with more wins and poles,despite missing 3 q3’s and having 1 more dnf.

    1. Looking back over the highlights, Ham lost it with not getting to grips with the starts, DNF’s and engine penalties aside, if he converted more poles to wins, he wouldn’t be in this situation now. On track race craft with ROS (apart from Australia) has been on point, although since Belgium grand prix I’d be curious to know the “rules of engagement”, enforced by Merc management. Either way, ROS is being rewarded for consistency.

      1. @icarbs –
        ROS is being rewarded for consistency.”

        Please give a detailed race by race by race analysis on how Rosberg has been more consistent than Lewis this season.

      2. @icarbs –
        And how on earth can you put “DNF’s and engine penalties aside,”? Isn’t that so convenient?

      3. I suggest you look again, over the season Hamilton has lost 14 points to Rosberg because of bad starts and between 40 and 80 due to reliability issues

    2. That’s POLE TROPHY for Lewis!!!

  8. Is P1 on the right hand side of the grid ?

      1. But does he know on which side the clutch lever is ;-)

  9. Can anybody confirm that Nico was losing time (compared to Lewis) only in 3rd sector at every lap, and that he reached lower max speeds?
    Cause this seems to suggest that he had less power than Lewis. I’m not insinuathing anything shady, probably it’s something related with engines mananagement, but it looks clear that 3rd sector performances here at Interlagos are purely based on power.

    1. Or his setup had more downforce which slowed him down in the 3rd sector and made him faster in 1 and 2. I think Lewis was faster in sector 2 though aswell, if I was to guess Nico took too much out of his tyres in the first sector hence him always being the quickest there and then didn’t have enough life in them for the last sector to get the max performance.

      1. Thanks for reply Zaros, but I disagree with your interpretation cause Nico, in FP3, improved his time in his 2nd attempt with the same tyres. It’s still possible he had more downforce, as you suggested, anyway. But i think it’s more likely he is using his engines with more care, cause even in Mexico he was losing by Lewis in the fastest sector (the 1st, there).

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