2012 Brazilian Grand Prix Qualifying: Hamilton On Pole As Vettel And Alonso Struggle

I haven’t yet come across a boring Brazilian Grand Prix and I think it is down to the nature of the Interlagos circuit in Sao Paolo. And I don’t think that the 2012 Brazilian Grand Prix, which is also the title decided for the 2012 Drivers’ Championship, will be any different.

If qualifying was anything to go by, I would suggest you stop doing whatever you plan to do so on Sunday and tune into the Formula1 broadcast on ESPN Star Sports (if you’re in Asia). Which also reminds me to speak about the broadcast. I wonder why ESPN Star Sports do not broadcast the race in HD anymore! Yes, they did broadcast all the practice sessions, but I am being greedy, why not all of it in HD?

Anyhow, back to qualifying and a rain shower before the session made up for a very interesting Q1. We had drivers attempt times on both tyre compounds and even the intermediates! Here’s how it all unfolded:


  • Hamilton clinched his 7th pole of the season. More poles than any other driver on the grid. Button was only a tenth and a half down in 2nd earning Mclaren a 1-2 in qualifying. Will they be able to dominate in the race as well? Will Hamilton win his last race for Mclaren? (Read: Hamilton to replace Schumacher at Mercedes)
Mclaren In Brazil (Courtesy: Mclaren)
  • And I don’t think the Formula1 fan bothered much about who is winning the race tomorrow. It is only about the Drivers’ World Championship, isn’t it?
  • While the Ferraris struggled, qualifying battles were between Mclaren and Red Bull Racing. Webber managed 3rd, two tenths ahead of Vettel in 4th. Can Vettel keep his cool and clinch his third Drivers’ title tomorrow? (Read: Red Bull Racing Are Champions, Will Vettel Be Champion Too?)
  • Alonso’s P8 certainly does look bad if compared with Massa’s P5, who was three tenths quicker. However, there is an 80% chance of rain in tomorrow’s race and I am sure Alonso and Ferrari are expecting chaos to help their chances at beating Vettel. (Read: Fernando Alonso Has No Option But To Race For Ferrari)
  • Both title rivals claimed that they would treat this race like any other. And interestingly, both have were out-qualified by their team-mates in qualifying!
  • Hulkenberg, in his last race for Sahara Force India, put his VJM05 in P7, 0.03 of a second behind Williams’ Maldonado. Will they have a part to play in the title race tomorrow? (Read: Nico Hulkenberg To Race For Sauber In 2013)
  • Raikkonen managed P9 and Rosberg, P10


  • Schumacher was the biggest name to drop out in this session. He starts his last ever Formula1 race from P14. Post-race he indicated that his car is set-up for full wet conditions, will this gamble pay off? (Read: Does Formula1 Need Michael Schumacher?)
  • Sahara Force India’s Paul Di Resta was 4 tenths off Hulkenberg and missed Q3 by only a tenth. Massa beat him to it in the final seconds of the session. He will start 11th.
  • Yet again, Hulkenberg and Maldonado were the only mid-field drivers who broke into Q3. Maldonado was 6 tenths quicker than Senna and qualified P6. But he was awarded a post-session reprimand for missing a mandatory weight check. While a reprimand doesn’t lead to a direct grid penalty, three reprimands in a single season do. That’s exactly what happened to Maldonado and he will now start P16. This moves Alonso up by one position.
  • And again, less than a second covered the top 10 in this session.


  • The track was drying through the session and hence we saw laptimes tumbling till the chequered flag dropped. This also meant that the best strategy would be to stay out on track with a good set of tyres and leave your qualifying attempt to as late as possible in the session.
  • As always, P19 to P24 were reserved for the Caterhams, Marussias and HRTs. However, we saw Petrov and Karthikeyan out-qualify their team-mates, Kovalainen and de la Rosa respectively. (Read: Narain Karthikeyan To Drive For WilliamsF1 In 2013)
  • And if his troubles on Race Day weren’t enough, Grosjean managed to get himself into trouble in qualifying as well. He mis-judged overtaking de la Rosa into the last corner, made contact with his HRT, the barrier and lost his front wing in due course. While he pitted for a new wing and could manage a qualifying lap, it wasn’t enough to get him through to Q2. Eventually, he ended up P18
  • The short nature of the circuit was one of the reasons we saw possibly the closest times in qualifying of the 2012 Formula1 season. Grosjean was only a tenth quicker than Petrov’s Caterham.
  • 1 second separated P1 to P9; P9 to P19 was a further second. The fastest Caterham (of Petrov) missed the Q2 cut by only 3 tenths.

Grosjean was 7th, 9th and 5th in the Free Practice sessions but could only manage P18 in qualifying, do you think he is crumbling under pressure?

Last race of the season! The good part is that we will have a thrilling race to decide the title. The bad part is that there will be no Formula1 action till February 2013!

And this could well be the last race for many drivers: Kobayashi, Kovalainen, Petrov, Karthikeyan, de la Rosa, Senna, Grosjean and of course, Michael Schumacher.

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).

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