F1 2016 Brazilian Grand Prix qualifying result: Hamilton beats Rosberg to pole position
PUBLISHED: 21:13 12 November 2016 | UPDATED: 19:19 13 November 2016
Mercedes-Benz Grand Prix Ltd.
Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton claimed a crucial pole position in qualifying for the 2016 Brazilian Grand Prix at the Interlagos circuit in São Paulo.
The 31-year-old Mercedes AMG Petronas driver from Hertfordshire took his 60th career F1 pole position and second at the Autódromo José Carlos Pace today (Saturday).
Only two other drivers have reached that milestone – Michael Schumacher with 68 poles and Ayrton Senna with 65.
Just fractions of a second separated the Silver Arrows in São Paulo as Hamilton pipped team-mate Nico Rosberg in a tense qualifying session.
Having already claimed provisional pole with his first hot lap, Hamilton snatched his 11th pole of the 2016 season so far with a final flying lap of 1m 10.736s in Q3.
World championship leader Rosberg completed a 13th Silver Arrows front row lockout of the season in P2 with a lap of 1m 10.838s – just 0.102s slower than Hamilton.
Ferrari driver Kimi Raikkonen completed the top three in the provisional qualifying results and will start on the second row of the grid ahead of Max Verstappen’s Red Bull.
Sebastian Vettel and Daniel Ricciardo will start Sunday’s race from the third row for Ferrari and Red Bull respectively.
Three-time world champion Hamilton said: “It’s been feeling great all weekend. Every session today I was up front and able to maintain that position, finding a little bit more each time I went out.
“So, I’m really, really happy with it [pole]. I don’t know how obvious it is watching at home but, with this being one of the shortest circuits on the calendar, it’s somewhere that even the smallest margin can make a huge difference and it’s usually close out there.
“It’s a really tricky track to get right. For example, all weekend my first sector times were quite good but then I never really got it together through there in qualifying.
“When you have such a short lap, getting your tyres ready for the first flying lap is often difficult, so you can go into the first three corners without them being fully up to temperature yet.”
Hamilton added: “It’s quite bumpy in places and the middle sector puts a lot of heat through the tyres, so overall it’s definitely a tough circuit.
“It’s all about having a good balance of patience and not being too greedy in some places.
“I’ve felt strong in every aspect and in all conditions throughout this weekend, so I’ll prepare the best way I can for tomorrow and see how it goes from there. I’m ready.”
Both Mercedes drivers completed a single run in Q1 and Q2, and aother two runs in Q3, using Soft compound tyres throughout.
Rosberg, who was quicker than Hamilton through the first sector, said: “That was a pretty intense qualifying out there today.
“I was able to improve my times from lap to lap which felt good and it was all going very well.
“I found a good balance, a good rhythm... a good everything, really. Then, on my last run I was able to improve again – but at the end Lewis was just that little bit quicker.
“But that’s the way it is and there is still a lot to play for tomorrow.”
Rosberg will win the world title for the first time if he takes the chequered flag in Brazil.
On starting second, Rosberg said: “To win the race is definitely still possible from this position.
“The start is always a possibility and also with strategy it could be interesting tomorrow.
“I also had a good long run this morning, so I am looking forward to a great race in front of this fantastic crowd.”
Toto Wolff, head of Mercedes-Benz Motorsport, was delighted to see his two drivers battle it out for pole position today.
He said: “What a fantastic qualifying session with everything coming down to the final lap between the two boys.
“Lewis did a great lap and was quickest in every part of qualifying – but Nico was actually a few hundredths ahead on his final lap until Turn 12, where he couldn’t get on the throttle early enough and lost the advantage up the hill.
“It was just a really tight session with both drivers on the limit and slugging it out on track, just like it should be.”
Wolff added: “Looking ahead to the race, the weather forecast looks uncertain and it will be down to our drivers to make the most of their opportunities.
“Our job is to make sure that we don’t let them down. The other positive from today was a surprisingly good gap to the teams behind – bigger than we have seen recently. But that can easily change in different circumstances during the race.”
Paddy Lowe, Mercedes’ executive director, added: “The Q3 finale between our two drivers was incredibly close and very exciting to watch.
“Nico was actually slightly up coming into the last corner but just lost a fraction in those final moments, with Lewis holding on to a very strong pole position.
“Congratulations to them both on what was a really spectacular performance to lock out the front row.
“The stage is set for a closely fought battle tomorrow, in what has been a tightly contested title battle all season so far.
“We look forward to seeing how the latest chapter in that story unfolds tomorrow.”
Former world champion Fernando Alonso will start tomorrow’s Brazilian Grand Prix from 10th position for McLaren, after posting strong lap times in all three qualifying sessions on Saturday afternoon.
McLaren-Honda team-mate Jenson Button starts 17th after failing to find a satisfactory balance in either FP3 or qualifying.
Button was mystified by the lack of pace, but the team will analyse the data overnight in a bid to resolve any outstanding issues.
With rain forecast for tomorrow, there’s still much to play for this weekend.