2011 Brazilian Grand Prix: Sebastian Vettel Scores 15th Pole Position To Break Nigel Mansell’s Record

It was inevitable! That’s the best way to describe Sebastian Vettel scoring his 15th pole position of the 2011 Formula1 season and break Nigel Mansell’s earlier record of 14. Classic stuff from the young double World Champion, who now has the maximum no. of pole positions by any driver in a single Formula1 season.

Few thoughts on Interlagos:

–          Fernando Alonso has been on the podium 6 times yet, but has not scored a single victory. Will he do so on Race Day?

–          This is one of five anti-clockwise circuits on the calendar. Look out for Steve Slater’s commentary on drivers resting their neck on the headrest in the cockpit in tomorrow’s race broadcast. He probably would mean that the drivers don’t seem fit enough!

–          Interestingly, none of the Mclaren drivers, Lewis Hamilton or Jenson Button, have won here before. Mclaren’s last victory at this circuit was back in 2005. Do they have the ammo to fight Red Bull Racing for victory?

–          Mixed weather conditions lead to frequent Safety Car periods on this circuit. The chances are as high as 70% for an SC period tomorrow. How would this affect tyre strategy?

–          The Pirelli’s have brought their soft (yellow) and medium (silver) tyres to Interlagos. The difference between the two compounds is nearly a second which means that tyre strategy will be key in the race. (Read post: Pirelli’s Colour Codes And Tyre Compounds)

–          And my last point, which is qualifying specific, Interlagos is one of the shortest circuits on the calendar (4.3 kms long) and should you separate each car equally on track, the distance between them would only be about 180 metres! This means that timing your qualifying runs in Q1 and Q2 will be important to ensure you don’t get bunched up in traffic!


–          Team Lotus publicized the arrival of their new rear wing in Brazil. While the wing did make their DRS more efficient by increasing their straight line speed, the team was unable to generate enough heat in their tyres throughout the session. However, there was a tough fight between their drivers Trulli and Kovalainen, which was eventually won by the latter in his last qualifying run. The good part about Team Lotus’ performance was that they were only 4 tenths slower than the WilliamsF1 car of Pastor Maldonado.

–          Maldonado, who struggled in both his qualifying attempts in Q1, was the fall guy in Brazil. In comparison, Barrichello managed a P12 and was 8 tenths quicker. Contrastingly, Maldonado’s predecessor Nico Hulkenberg drove a stunning lap to put his WilliamsF1 car on pole last year.

–          The startling result of Q1 was both HRT cars beating the Virgin cars on the timesheets.

–          There were chances of rain arriving mid-way through the session which saw almost all cars make it out on track during the first few minutes of the session.


–          The Mercedes GP cars looked quick on the soft tyres and Rosberg did manage to register a few top 3 times early in the session. He was consistently quicker than Schumacher, who I think has gambled with a wet weather setup considering that the weather forecast for tomorrow has indicated heavy rainfall.

–          The Mclaren cars, which were expected to fight with the Red Bulls for the front row, looked way off their expected pace and this too could be a strategic gamble by the team with respect to setup.

–          Q2’s best performance would be split between Sahara Force India’s Adrian Sutil and Lotus Renault’s Bruno Senna, who managed some lightening quick laps than their team-mates to book their slot in Q3.

–           Senna’s time difference to Petrov (starts P15) was 7 tenths, whereas Sutil was 3 tenths ahead of di Resta (starts P11) in a battle of the team-mates. Sutil, who has upped his pace in the second half of the season has a 10-9 tally in qualifying against his rookie team-mate.

–          The other battling team-mates were Alguersuari (P13) and Buemi (P14), with the former edging ahead by a tenth and Kobayashi (P16) and Perez (P17), who were evenly matched for pace.

–          Sauber and Toro Rosso are engaged in a battle for 7th place and keep a look out for these 4 drivers during the race. Toro Rosso need to score 2 points to beat Sauber.


–          Vettel scored his 15th pole of the season with Webber only a tenth behind in 2nd, registering yet another 1-2 in qualifying for Red Bull Racing. This was also Vettel’s 30th career pole.

–          Red Bull Racing have clinched 18 out of 19 pole positions this season. The last non-Red Bull pole went to Lewis Hamilton in the 2011 Korean Grand Prix.

–          Dropping track temperatures saw drivers attempt two successive flying laps in order to generate enough heat in the Pirelli soft tyres.

–          Sutil was expected to go out for a timed attempt in Q3 and he managed P8 ahead of Senna and Schumacher. It was good to see Sahara Force India fight for starting position than save tyres in Q3, a strategy that Schumacher ultimately adopted through the session. (Read Post: A Tweak In Qualifying Rules Is Needed)

–          Ferrari’s Alonso will start from P5 once again (how many times this season already!) whereas Massa struggled his way to P7 after being beaten by Rosberg by a hundredth of a second.

–          Button and Hamilton’s qualifying tussle was interesting yet again, with Button gaining an edge and clocking a time 2 tenths faster. P3 is Button’s best starting position in Interlagos and incidentally is also his first top 10 grid position. Button scored his debut Formula1 points here in 2000 and then clinched his first World Championship title in 2009! However, Button’s lap was 3 tenths slower than Vettels’!

–          4 different teams have clinched pole in Brazil in 4 years (Red Bull Racing, Williams, Brawn, and Ferrari). This was also Red Bull Racing’s first pole at Interlagos.

The BIG question for tomorrow’s race: Who will win the race? Vettel or Button or will Webber finally stand on the top step of the podium?

Kunal Shah is an FIA-accredited Formula 1 journalist who has been reporting on Formula 1 for nearly two decades. He worked with the Force India Formula 1 Team for 6 seasons in Marketing, Sponsorship and Commercial roles. As a former single-seater racer, he was responsible for Force India's grassroots talent program, One from a Billion Hunt. Presently, he co-writes a regular Formula 1 column for Firstpost, speaks on Inside Line F1 Podcast & Pits to Podium and produces broadcast/OTT content for NENT Group (Viasport & Viaplay).

Leave a reply:

Site Footer

Sliding Sidebar

Open chat
Let's Talk Formula 1
Happy to share my passion for Formula 1 with you. If you have specific queries about the sport, feel free to ping me.

In the meanwhile, I welcome you to subscribe to the Inside Line F1 Podcast for insightful conversations around Formula 1. We release an episode every week.