Lewis Hamilton will start his 110th and final race for McLaren from pole position in Sunday’s showdown Brazilian GP after he and teammate Jenson Button upstaged the title fighters by locking out the front row.
Hamilton produced a dramatic and fast final lap in Saturday’s qualifying to outstrip all his rivals and maintain his end-of-season domination as McLaren delivered their fourth lockout of the year. In his final qualifying session for the team before leaving to join Mercedes next year, the 27-year-old Briton clocked a fastest lap of one minute and 12.458 seconds to outpace compatriot Button by one-tenth of a second.
“I am grateful to be able to put the car on the front row and to have a one-two for the McLaren team in my last qualifying is just great. The team did a fantastic job,” said Hamilton. The dazzling performance from the two McLaren men left championship contenders, defending champion Sebastian Vettel of Red Bull down in fourth and his title rival, two-time champion Fernando Alonso of Ferrari in eighth.
Both of them were out-qualified by their teammates, Mark Webber, who was third for Red Bull, and Felipe Massa, who was fifth-fastest on his home track for Ferrari. “It was not quick enough and I know I could have done a little better,” admitted Vettel.
“But let’s wait and see what happens tomorrow.” A cagey Alonso, who may have run in a set-up that may suit Sunday’s forecast wet weather better than the dry, said: “It is more or less what I expected... We did not gamble and only made minimal changes.”
Brazilian GP starting grid
1) Hamilton (McLaren)
2) Button (McLaren)
3) Webber (Red Bull)
4) Vettel (Red Bull)
5) Massa (Ferrari)
6) Maldonado (Williams)
7) Hulkenberg (Force India)
8) Alonso (Ferrari)