Sebastian Vettel's run of form has continued. The German Red Bull driver, who has already captured a fourth-straight Formula One title, has taken pole position for the season-ending Brazilian Grand Prix.
Vettel clocked in at 1 minute, 26.479 seconds Saturday during qualifying at a rain-soaked Interlagos track. It was the 26-year-old's 45th career pole and ninth of the season. The pole position start for Sunday's race puts Vettel on track to equal the record of 13 wins in a season, set by compatriot Michael Schumacher in 2004.
Vettel was 0.623 seconds faster than fellow German Nico Rosberg of Mercedes, while Ferrari's Fernando Alonso took third ahead of Red Bull's other driver, Mark Webber. Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton had to settle for fifth, ahead of Roman Grosjean of Lotus.
Qualifying had to be stopped for a total of 47 minutes because of the heavy rain.
"If there's too much water on the track, the risk of aquaplaning is too high. We got out and I was surprised how much of the water had gone," said Vettel, who clinched his fourth consecutive title in India last month.
"I went straight to the intermediates and got a good lap straight away," he added. "I tried again and was close. I'm happy with both my laps. It's great in these conditions to get it all right."
"He was really impressive in that last session there," said Red Bull principal Christian Horner. "To produce two laps that were over half a second clear of the rest of the field in such tricky conditions, what more can you say?"
Alonso expressed his satisfaction at achieving his best qualifying result since the Bahrain Grand Prix in April.
"Usually we are better in the wet, so we have been waiting for a wet race, but unfortunately it came in the last race of the season," he said. "It makes a change to be so far up the grid. Obviously it was not possible to beat Seb who is too far ahead."
Ferrari are competing with Mercedes and Lotus for second place in the constructor's championship behind Red Bull. Mercedes sit 15 points behind Ferrari, with Lotus a further 18 points back.
Frustration for some
Brazilian Felipe Massa appeared frustrated after his performance on Saturday meant he would start his final race for Ferrari in ninth place.
"I can't be satisfied. I couldn't get a great lap. I hope I can have a great race, let's put everything in the race," he said. "It's a very special race to me, definitely I will be emotional tomorrow."
Mexico's Sergio Perez suffered a crash in his final qualifying for McLaren, hitting the wall on Turn Five at the end of the second session. He still managed to qualify 14th, one spot ahead of teammate Jenson Button, summing up McLaren's poor season. Should the pair fail to finish in the top four in Sunday's race, it would be the first time a McLaren driver has failed to do so in a single race since 1966.
dr/mkg (AFP, dpa, Reuters)