Mercedes’ German driver Nico Rosberg powers his car at the Interlagos racetrack in Sao Paulo, Brazil, yesterday.
Nico Rosberg claimed his fifth consecutive pole position yesterday when he outpaced Mercedes teammate and world champion Lewis Hamilton to take the prime starting slot for today’s Brazilian Grand Prix.
The 30-year-old German, who has found his form in the final part of a season that was dominated by the newly-crowned triple champion Hamilton, produced another text-book demonstration of his craft to leave the Englishman still waiting to claim his elusive 50th career pole.
Rosberg, who won the Mexican Grand Prix two weeks ago to boost his hopes of finishing as runner-up in the title race, clocked a fastest lap in one minute and 11.282 seconds in the final seconds of the session to beat Hamilton by 0.078 seconds.
It was the 21st pole of his career, the most by any driver not to have won the world title, and yet another front row lockout for the Mercedes team.
Rosberg also became the 13th driver in F1 history to claim five straight poles.
“That was a great job guys,” said Rosberg. “The last lap was a bit on the edge, with a couple of big moments in there, but pole is a good place to start.”
Hamilton, who is searching for his first win in nine attempts in Brazil and wants “to salute” his boyhood hero Ayrton Senna with a triumph on the former champion’s home track, said: “I think, in the end, I just didn’t maximise the first sector (of the lap), but the other two were ok.”
Behind the two “Silver Arrows” men, four-time champion Sebastian Vettel took third place for Ferrari ahead of Valtteri Bottas of Williams and his fellow-Finn Kimi Raikkonen in the second Ferrari. Bottas, however, will drop to seventh on the grid as a result of a penalty that therefore ensures Ferrari fill the second row of the grid for today’s race.
Nico Hulkenberg of Force India was sixth ahead of Daniil Kvyat of Red Bull, local hero Felipe Massa in the second Williams, Australian Daniel Ricciardo in the second Red Bull and the ever-improving Dutch teenager Max Verstappen who took 10th place for Toro Rosso.
Ricciardo also faces a grid penalty after Red Bull chose to fit his car with a new Renault engine.
He said: “It wasn’t worth it. It wasn’t much different and not much of advantage.”
On a much hotter day, with a track temperature of 50 degrees Celsius, the session began with few surprises as Hamilton topped the times in Q1 with the usual suspects, including the two McLaren-Honda men—Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button eliminated.
Two-time world champion Alonso took the opportunity to enjoy a brief sun-bathing opportunity before he returned to the team garage.
As the Spaniard trudged back to the pits, he was given a rousing reception by the Interlagos crowd.
Out with him went Lotus driver Venezuelan Pastor Maldonado, Button and the two Manor Marussia men, American Alex Rossi and Briton Will Stevens.
It was much the same in Q2 with Hamilton fastest and Brazilian Felipe Nasr of Sauber left frustrated in missing out on the top-ten shootout in 11th place ahead of Carlos Sainz of Toro Rosso and Sergio Perez of Force India.
Also out went Marcus Ericsson in the second Sauber and Romain Grosjean in his Lotus, leaving the home crowd pleased to see their favourite Massa squeeze through in 10th place for Williams.
The final Q3 session began with Rosberg out first to clock 1:11.461. Hamilton followed him, but locked up at Turn 10 and was slower, in second, after the first runs by 0.088 seconds.
It was a disadvantage he could not overcome as Rosberg continued to show the form of a world champion—in the races after the title has been claimed.
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