Rubens Barrichello pleased his home crowd as he put his Brawn on the pole for the Brazilian Formula One Grand Prix, despite terrible weather which left many top drivers far down the grid.
The Brazilian driver kept his championship chances alive with a lap of 1:19:576, less than a tenth of a second quicker than second-place Mark Webber’s Red Bull. Adrian Sutil qualified third in his Force India, with a lap of 1:19:912. No other driver made it into the 1:19’s.
“It is much better to start at the front and have your own race pace than be towards the middle of the pack” Barrichello said after qualifying. “I am keeping my feet on the ground as we have won nothing just yet. It is going to be a great night of sleep but we still have to get everything tomorrow.”
Jenson Button, leading the series in points and needing a good finish to clinch the championship, didn’t make it to Q3. His best effort earned him 14th spot on the grid. Button needs a third-place finish to win the championship. Starting 14th, it is questionable whether he will finish in the points at all.
Sebastian Vettel, third in Championship points behind Button and Barrichello, had his worst qualifying result in years, failing to make it out of Q1. Vettel has never failed to get his Red Bull into Q3 all season; this time he was stuck with a car set up for a dry race, on a day of constant precipitation and intermittent deluges.
One such deluge started with a few minutes left in the first qualifying session. Vettel aborted his last qualifying lap as he felt conditions were too dangerous to proceed. He immediately went to the stewards to protest, as he felt the session should have been red-flagged.
Unfortunately for the Red Bull driver, the session’s times were allowed to stand, and Vettel will be starting fifteenth. This seriously hampers his chase for the championship. Vettel needs a first- or second-place finish to stay in contention.
Defending champion Lewis Hamilton spun his McLaren during Q1, picking up so much mud and debris he had to park the car. He will start from eighteenth.
Weather will play an important factor in Sunday’s race. Many teams set up for a dry race, gambling on weather reports. This race could decide both the drivers’ and constructors’ championships, but idf finishing order is anything like grid order, the championship could go down to Abu Dhabi.