Skip to main content

Hamilton upstages F1 title contenders in Brazil qualifying

updated 3:47 PM EST, Sat November 24, 2012
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Lewis Hamilton wins his seventh pole position of 2012 season at last race in Brazil
  • His McLaren team locks out the front row for for a record 67th time in Formula One
  • Championship leader Sebastian Vettel qualifies fourth behind teammate Mark Webber
  • Second-placed Fernando Alonso is back in seventh for Ferrari, with Felipe Massa fifth

(CNN) -- The scene is set for a thrilling climax to the 2012 Formula One season after Lewis Hamilton upstaged title contenders Sebastian Vettel and Fernando Alonso by claiming pole position for Sunday's Brazilian Grand Prix.

Hamilton, who beat the duo to win the penultimate race in the U.S. last weekend, headed off McLaren teammate Jenson Button in Saturday's qualifying at Interlagos.

Championship leader Vettel had to settle for fourth on the grid behind Red Bull teammate Mark Webber, while second-placed Alonso was back in eighth -- later bumped up to seventh -- as he was again out-qualified by Ferrari colleague Felipe Massa.

Alonso was handed a small boost when Williams' Pastor Maldonado was relegated from sixth to 16th after receiving a reprimand for failing to take his car to the weighbridge when requested to do so by stewards.

Who is F1's greatest driver?

Vettel will clinch his third successive title if Alonso -- also seeking to become the sport's youngest triple champion -- finishes outside the top three.

Click here to return to the story. Click here to return to the story.
HIDE CAPTION
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
>
>>
Senna vs. Fangio: Who is the greatest? Senna vs. Fangio: Who is the greatest?
McLaren's Lewis Hamilton revels in winning the inaugural grand prix at the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas, on Sunday. McLaren's Lewis Hamilton revels in winning the inaugural grand prix at the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas, on Sunday.
Number One
HIDE CAPTION
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
>
>>
Reborn in the USA Reborn in the USA

The German, who holds a 13-point lead after finishing second in Austin, will be champion whatever his rival's result if he places in the top four.

However, with rain expected on Sunday the title race is far from over -- especially as Alonso has overcome poor qualifying form many times this season to consistently finish on the podium.

"Ninth in the USA and eighth here so more or less as I expected," he said. "I will try to achieve the podiums which we achieved in Abu Dhabi and Austin from those positions.

"No big changes in our race. F1 is dominated by aerodynamics. We ran with maximum downforce in dry and same in the wet so no big changes today, no gamble. It is minimum changes."

Latest F1 standings

The Spaniard, who won his two titles with Renault in 2005 and 2006, triumphed in the season's only rain-affected race in Malaysia in March.

He was helped in Texas when Ferrari gave Massa an automatic five-place grid penalty by changing his gearbox, but this time the Brazilian will be looking to impress on his home track -- where he was denied the 2008 world title by Hamilton on the last lap despite winning the race.

"I will try everything I can," said Massa, who qualified fifth ahead of Venezuelan driver Maldonado.

"I don't know what the weather will be but everyone says it is wet. We know Interlagos and that anything can happen. The only thing I need to do is concentrate on my own race in front of my own people."

Vettel has recovered from a difficult start to the season, making the most of improvements provided by Red Bull designer Adrian Newey to win four races in a row before finishing third from a pit-lane start in Abu Dhabi and then second last weekend.

The Formula One roadshow rolls into Austin, Texas this weekend for the first race of 10 over the coming decade. The sport is hoping to attract legions of new fans in the USA. The Formula One roadshow rolls into Austin, Texas this weekend for the first race of 10 over the coming decade. The sport is hoping to attract legions of new fans in the USA.
Formula One rodeo
HIDE CAPTION
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
6
>
>>
Rekindling F1\'s American dream Rekindling F1's American dream
Sergio "Checo" Perez has been the surprise package of the 2012 Formula One season -- just his second year in the elite division of motorsport. Sergio "Checo" Perez has been the surprise package of the 2012 Formula One season -- just his second year in the elite division of motorsport.
Mexican Wunderkind
HIDE CAPTION
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
>
>>
The rise and rise of Sergio Perez The rise and rise of Sergio Perez

"It was not quick enough and I know I could have done a little better," the 25-year-old said. "But let's wait and see what happens tomorrow."

Hamilton claimed his seventh pole this season and is seeking to end his career-long spell at McLaren with a second successive victory.

"I am grateful to be able to put the car on the front row and to have had my last qualifying with McLaren as a one-two, it is a fantastic job by the team," said the Englishman after the team locked out the front row for a record 67th time.

"I think the weather will be tricky tomorrow, it will make it more of a lottery."

Next season Hamilton will move to Mercedes to replace Michael Schumacher, who will start the final race of his career 13th out of 24 drivers.

The seven-time world champion, who was fourth at Interlagos before his first retirement in 2006, missed out on the third and final qualifying session.

The 43-year-old was almost two seconds slower than Hamilton's leading time of 1:12.458, finishing behind the Englishman's replacement at McLaren next year -- Sergio Perez of Sauber.

"I am not particularly happy about the qualifying session," Schumacher said.

"We might have compromised the car too much for the rain which is expected for tomorrow and was also forecast for qualifying.

"My starting position is now quite tricky, and I will have to see what we can make out of it.

Sauber's new signing Nico Hulkenberg will start sixth in his final race for Force India at a track where the German claimed a surprise pole position in 2010.

Former world champion Kimi Raikkonen, seeking to hold off Hamilton for third place in the drivers' standings, will be eighth on the grid ahead of Mercedes' Nico Rosberg and Force India's Paul di Resta.

Bruno Senna will start 11th as he seeks to earn a new deal with Williams at the circuit where his three-time world champion uncle Ayrton made his name as a Brazilian folk hero.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
Track the buzz of the 2014 Formula One season, race by race, with all the latest social reaction from motorsport experts.
updated 7:35 AM EDT, Thu July 24, 2014
Formula One is not likely to go hungry in Hungary as master chefs cater in volume for drivers, teams and VIP guests.
updated 10:43 AM EDT, Thu July 3, 2014
It's the elephant in the room of Formula One. What's the prognosis legendary driver Michael Schumacher?
updated 7:10 PM EDT, Fri May 23, 2014
It stimulates all five senses, creating an unparalleled experience for drivers and fans alike. Take a tour of Monaco with Mark Webber.
updated 8:33 AM EDT, Thu May 22, 2014
To be a champion you must win a title -- but to become an F1 legend you must win races at Monaco, the calendar's most testing circuit.
updated 10:59 AM EDT, Wed May 21, 2014
Caterham F1 reserve driver Alexander Rossi takes you on a tour of the Monaco racing circuit.
updated 8:38 AM EDT, Mon May 5, 2014
The Formula One driver transcended his sport and even 20 years after his death, Ayrton Senna commands the adoration of fans worldwide.
updated 11:00 AM EDT, Thu May 1, 2014
TO GO WITH AFP STORY IN ARABIC BY SUHEIL HOWAYEK: (FILES) Brazilian F1 driver Ayrton Senna adjusts his rear view mirror in the pits 01 May 1994 before the start of the San Marino Grand Prix. Senna died after crashing in the seventh lap. Some 45 drivers, including Senna and Canadian Gilles Villeneuve, have been killed during Formula One races whose tracks are dubbed by some as the 'circuits of death.' AFP PHOTO/JEAN-LOUP GAUTREAU (Photo credit should read JEAN-LOUP GAUTREAU/AFP/Getty Images)
F1's greatest racer was killed during the San Marino Grand Prix on May 1 1994. The sport hasn't been the same since.
updated 11:16 AM EDT, Wed April 30, 2014
Just four F1 drivers turned up to Roland Ratzenberger's funeral after his death during qualifying for the San Marino Grand Prix on April 30 1994.
updated 7:56 AM EDT, Fri April 25, 2014
For a championship with a distinctly Iberian streak, it is no surprise that South America should be high on MotoGP's list of territories to conquer.
updated 7:13 AM EDT, Fri April 18, 2014
Susie Wolff, pictured, will become the Formula One's first female competitor in 20 years when she takes part in the first practice sessions at the British and German grands prix in July.
Too weak. Can't handle the pressure. Susie Wolff has heard it all -- but she is determined to become the first female F1 driver in 20 years.
CNN's Amanda Davies visits the headquarters of Mercedes, the dominant team in Formula One this season.
ADVERTISEMENT