Sebastian Vettel on pole for Brazilian Grand Prix

By Camila Moreira

SAO PAULO (Reuters) - Red Bull's quadruple world champion Sebastian Vettel stormed to pole position for the season-ending Brazilian Formula One Grand Prix after a rain-hit qualifying session at Interlagos on Saturday.

The 26-year-old German, more than ever in a class of his own, made his 45th career pole - and ninth of the season - look all too easy as he swept round a rain-soaked track with a time of one minute 26.479 seconds.

Nico Rosberg joined his compatriot on the front row for Mercedes, but the 0.623 second gulf between his time and Vettel's told the real story.

"He was really impressive in that last session there," said Red Bull principal Christian Horner after a jubilant Vettel had celebrated the pole with a cheer of 'Ole, ole' over the team radio.

"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?"

Ferrari's Fernando Alonso equalled his best position of the season with third place next to Vettel's Australian team mate Mark Webber, preparing for his Formula One farewell before heading off to race sportscars with Porsche.

Webber, who had topped the timesheets in a meaningless final practice with most drivers conserving tyres, was more than a second off Vettel's pace while Alonso said a mistake had cost him eight tenths.

"I went off at turn four, I was very late and missed the corner," he explained, saying second place would have been possible but not pole.

RECORD WIN

Vettel, who clinched his fourth title in a row in India last month, is now perfectly placed to claim a record ninth successive win in a single season on Sunday.

Victory would also be his 13th of the season, equalling Michael Schumacher's 2004 record with Ferrari.

Vettel, along with the others who made it through to the last 10, had to wait 45 minutes in the garages to complete the session due to the incessant rain and standing water on the track delaying the final phase.

"I was so happy after the quali, especially Q3," he told reporters. "It took a long time for us to get out, there was a lot of rain after Q2...we had to wait. If there's too much water on the track, the risk of aquaplaning is too high.

"I was surprised by the margin. When I was told I was very happy, I even mixed up Spanish and Portuguese and was on the radio saying 'ole, ole'. I don't know the expression in Portuguese," he grinned.

"Maybe someone can tell me today and hopefully I'll have another chance tomorrow."

Lewis Hamilton qualified fifth for Mercedes with Frenchman Romain Grosjean sixth for Lotus.

Mercedes, Ferrari and Lotus are fighting for second place in the constructors' championship and the status and significant financial rewards the position brings with it. Mercedes are 15 points clear of Ferrari, with Lotus a further 18 adrift.

Brazilian Felipe Massa will start his last race for Ferrari in ninth place and sounded frustrated talking to reporters after the session.

"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."

McLaren's dismal season continued with both Jenson Button and Sergio Perez failing to make it through to the final phase, with the Mexican crashing his car heavily into the wall at the end of the second part.

"I just tried to risk everything I could and it just ended up badly," said Perez.

"I think the crash looked bigger than it was. The hit was not that big."

If the team fail to take at least a fourth place on Sunday, it will be their worst season since they started out in 1966.

(Writing by Alan Baldwin in London, editing by Ken Ferris and Ed Osmond. Additional reporting by Tatiana Ramil)

Matches

MORE TOP STORIES TODAY

Punjab pull off another big chase

Punjab pull off another big chase

GAME 7, SHARJAH—Maxwell, Miller, Pujara chase down Rajasthan's 192. More »

Royal test for Kings

Royal test for Kings

Preview — Clash of philosophies between Australia-centric teams More »

Have nothing to prove to anybody — Sehwag

Have nothing to prove to anybody — Sehwag

The Nawab of Najafgarh says a good run in IPL could help his chances of a comeback on India's tour to England in June. More »

Shastri in proposed IPL probe panel

Shastri in proposed IPL probe panel

Some members stressed on the need for proposing names with an "impeccable record and clean image". More »

Duminy steals first win for Delhi

Duminy steals first win for Delhi

Furious fifties by Duminy and Dinesh Karthik end a long losing streak for the Daredevils. More »

Five things England must do to bounce back

Five things England must do to bounce back

England have appointed a new head coach in Peter Moores. More »

AB, Parthiv seal Bangalore's second win

AB, Parthiv seal Bangalore's second win

Royal Challengers overcame a stutter to cruise to the small target they were set by Mumbai Indians. More »

‘Felt like helpless minority’

‘Felt like helpless minority’

Former BCCI treasurer Ajay Shirke says emotions got the better of Srinivasan and he tried to oversimplify things by calling Meiyappan an “enthusiast.” More »

Srinivasan can attend BCCI meeting

Srinivasan can attend BCCI meeting

His status as president of TNCA makes him eligible to attend the Working Committee meeting on Sunday. More »

No way back for Pietersen: ECB

No way back for Pietersen: ECB

Kevin Pietersen's hopes of reviving his international career appeared to end Saturday when ECB managing director Paul Downton said there was 'no way back'… More »

The world record that nearly wasn't

The world record that nearly wasn't

Twenty years ago this week, Brian Lara became Test cricket's highest scorer, but he almost didn't make it. More »

Maxwell carves his parallel universe

Maxwell carves his parallel universe

Glenn Maxwell seems to project an icy disdain when at the crease. Match situations rarely faze him and the bubble in which he plays excludes everyone … More »

Moores gets second stint as coach

Moores gets second stint as coach

In a two-year spell from 2007 to 2009, the 51-year-old Moores led England in seven Test series. More »

Bangladesh senior players to see shrink

Bangladesh senior players to see shrink

Bangladesh's senior players will have three sessions with a psychological skill development coach later this month More »

BCCI is not anybody’s property — Dalmiya

BCCI is not anybody’s property — Dalmiya

Dalmiya feels that Srinivasan’s ‘power hungry’ attitude isn’t helping matters. More »

Tough for bowlers: Saeed Ajmal

Tough for bowlers: Saeed Ajmal

The 36-year-old believes the T20 format and rule changes in 50-over matches have made a real difference. More »

KP ridicules idea of day-night Tests

KP ridicules idea of day-night Tests

Kevin Pietersen has ridiculed the idea of day-night Test cricket, saying the game would be so different to proper Test cricket that we will need a whole… More »

Rajasthan edge low-scoring thriller

Rajasthan edge low-scoring thriller

The bowlers restricted Hyderabad to 133 for 6 before Rahane and Binny took Rajasthan over the line. More »

Maxwell blitz takes Punjab home

Maxwell blitz takes Punjab home

The Kings XI batsman blasted a 43-ball 95 to help his team pull off a massive chase against Chennai Super Kings. More »

BCCI members want independent probe

BCCI members want independent probe

The board members are realising after the Supreme Court's observations that something has to be done — IS Bindra More »

'BCCI lacks leaders to take on Srini'

'BCCI lacks leaders to take on Srini'

Two former BCCI presidents, Shashank Manohar and Jagmohan Dalmiya, have reacted strongly to the news of the BCCI calling an emergent meeting on Sunday… More »

Delhi look for first points against confident Kolkata

Delhi look for first points against confident Kolkata

Preview — The threat of Sunil Narine looms large again. More »

Bangalore vs Mumbai: A battle of the big-hitters

Bangalore vs Mumbai: A battle of the big-hitters

Preview — Given the firepower in both line-ups, Dubai crowd may see another high-scorer More »

Yuvraj tees off to Sharjah's delight

Yuvraj tees off to Sharjah's delight

Yuvraj Singh was hardly convincing to begin with against Delhi, but a big dose of crowd support and a helping of poor bowling meant he had the opportunity… More »