Rubens Barrichello took Pole Position at his home grand prix – the Brazilian Grand Prix at Interlagos in Sao Paulo – as his championship contenders struggled and didn’t even finish in the top ten! “Jenson Button in P14, Sebastian Vettel in P16, where are you now?” exclaimed Barrichello’s race engineer and the delight was very much apparent in his voice as Barrichello put himself in the best possible position for launching a title challenge by clinching pole position in rainy conditions. Red Bull’s Mark Webber will start in P2 with Force India’s Adrian Sutil in P3. Toyota’s Jarno Trulli, Ferrari of Kimi Raikkonen, Toro Rosso of Sebastian Buemi, Williams of Nico Rosberg & Kazuki Nakajima, with the BMW of Robert Kubica in between and Renault of Fernando Alonso complete the top ten. That makes it 9 teams in the top ten grid places with just Williams managing to get both their cars in the mix.
Ran dogged the entire session and caused several sizeable delays and saw few red flags as well. But the last ten minutes were played out on a drying track and it made for a spectacular session as no less than 7 drivers exchanged fastest laps – all within just a few minutes! Barrichello ended up with the fastest of them all just as the chequered flag fell and he will be mighty delighted about it; especially with both his championship contenders starting way back on the grid. Mark Webber probably would have took pole if he continued for another flying lap but maybe his tyres were losing the optimum performance levels. It was brilliant drive from Adrian Sutil to post the third fastest time, given Force India’s struggles in the past few races.
The Qualifying session started in rainy conditions as a steady drizzles continued to pummel the Interlagos track and some of the braver drivers tiptoed around the wet track and tried to set a time that would take them into the second session. Sebastian Vettel was the early pace setter amongst seven drivers to have set a time before Giancarlo Fisichella stalled his Ferrari on the track and that brought out the Red Flags. The Stewards elected to resume the session only when the conditions improved and after a brief wait, the session did resume. Lewis Hamilton, Nico Rosberg, Rubens Barrichello & Kazuki Nakajima, among others, traded the initial fastest laps but as the session progressed, the times did improve and at the end of Q1 the drivers to lose out included both the McLarens of Lewis Hamilton & Heikki Kovalainen, the Ferrari of Giancarlo Fisichella, BMW of Nick Heidfeld and most surprising of all, championship contender Sebastian Vettel!
Q2 started after what seemed like an hour but was actually twenty odd minutes and it was the Williams of Nico Rosberg who was setting the pace but the session was almost immediately red flagged as Vitantonio Liuzzi aquaplaned off turn one and careened into the tyre wall, spelling the end of the session for his Force India. The restart was kept in abeyance till the conditions improved and almost after an hour, the drivers took to the track again, in a hope to get into Q3. Nico Rosberg, Kimi Raikkonen and Mark Webber were the initial pace setters with Rosberg being brave enough to put on the intermediate tyres in lieu of the full wets. The drivers to get knocked out of Q2 were Vitantonio Liuzzi, the Renault of Sebastian Grosjean, Toro Rosso of Jaime Algersuari, debutante Kamui Kobayashi of Toyota and yet another surprise – championship leader Jenson Button!
Sunday’s race is expected to be a dry race but it could very well change and won’t that be an exciting prospect! With Vettel and Button bogged down at the tail end of the grid, it plays very nicely into Barichello’s hands and if Brawn manage to keep up the tyre temperatures in the race, 10 points are there for the taking. If Button and Vettel don’t manage any points, Vettel will surely be out of the title race and the gap between the two Brawn drivers will be down to just 4 points with just the one race remaining! McLaren are also down at the tail end of the grid and that would give some hope to Ferrari and Kimi Raikkonen, who hope to consolidate 3rd and 5th place in the Constructors’ and Drivers’ Championship respectively. Should make for exciting viewing. Bring.It.On.
P.S: Happy 30th Birthday to Kimi Raikkonen!