Barrichello storms to pole after chaotic Brazil qualifying
After getting final practice compressed into 13 minutes of running this morning, heavy rain caused chaos once again this afternoon with a hugely disrupted qualifying session taking almost two and three quarter hours to be completed. In the end though, it was a wait well worth it for the Brazilian fans as Brawn’s Rubens Barrichello kept his championship fight alive with a superb pole position, made all the sweeter by team-mate and championship leader Jenson Button doing no better than 14th.
Despite continual heavy rain and generally poor track conditions, qualifying got underway as planned at 14.00 local time, before the red flags predictably emerged after four minutes when Giancarlo Fisichella spun to a halt at turn 2. After a 14-minute delay, the action resumed to the finish of Q1, with McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton being one of the notable victims of the poor conditions, aqua planing off the track at turn 5.
By the end of the 20-minute session, there were a number of high-profile scalps, with championship contender Sebastian Vettel all but putting his championship chances on hold for a year by qualifying only 16th. Hamilton also failed to progress alongside team-mate Kovalainen, while Nick Heidfeld and Fisichella will occupy the last row of tomorrow’s grid. Time-wise, Vettel led the losing quintet, with a 1m25.009s, followed by Kovalainen (1m25.052s), Hamilton (1m25.192s), Heidfeld (1m25.515s) and Fisichella (1m40.703s).
Although Q2 was given a preliminary start-time of 14:41 local time, the second part of qualifying didn’t start until 14:57, but was soon after suspended when Force India’s Tonio Liuzzi crashed going into turn 1, bringing out the red flag once again. This time around the wait to get cars back out on-track was significantly longer, with over an hour passing before the green light was finally given.
Numerous track inspections later and the final 12m24s of Q2 got underway at 16:10 local time, thankfully with the session passing without incident. Again there was a big scalp in the bottom five, with championship leader Jenson Button finishing 14th, faster only than Tonio Liuzzi who failed to set a time after crashing. While many drivers switched to intermediate tyres in the slightly drying conditions, Button remained on the extreme wets causing him to be the slowest man on-track.
However, the Briton had more than his tyres to blame, as Adrian Sutil and Rubens Barrichello both graduated to Q3 on the deep-grooved tyres, as Nico Rosberg set the quickest time of the session on the intermediates. Joining Button (1m22.504s) on the sidelines were Romain Grosjean (1m22.477s), Jaime Alguersuari (1m22.231s) and Kamui Kobayashi (1m21.960s). Barrichello meanwhile just managed to scrape through, finishing tenth.
But once in Q3 and intermediate tyres on his Brawn, Barrichello transformed his pace and was immediately a front-runner. His first laptime of 1m21.167s was good enough for provisional pole, and as the times settled down after a number of laps it became clear the Brazilian had a battle on his hands for pole with Red Bull’s Mark Webber. The Australian lay down the marker with a 1m19.668s with just seconds left in the session. However, his benchmark stood for just 21 seconds, before Barrichello lifted Brazilian hearts to clock a 1m19.576s, claiming his first pole position in five years.
A late lap by Adrian Sutil saw him claim third for Force India on a 1m19.912s, with Jarno Trulli (1m20.097s) fourth and Kimi Räikkönen (1m20.168s) fifth. Toro Rosso’s Sébastien Buemi (1m20.250s) secured his best F1 starting position in sixth, while early favourite for pole Nico Rosberg (1m20.326s) did no better than seventh despite topping the Q1 and Q2 timesheets. Robert Kubica (1m20.631s), Kazuki Nakajima (1m20.674s) and Fernando Alonso (1m21.422s) completed the top ten.
Here are the results,
|3||20||Adrian Sutil||Force India-Mercedes||1:24.447||1:20.753||1:19.912||28|
|8||5||Robert Kubica||BMW Sauber||1:23.072||1:21.147||1:20.631||30|
|15||21||Vitantonio Liuzzi||Force India-Mercedes||1:24.645||12|
|19||6||Nick Heidfeld||BMW Sauber||1:25.515||11|