SAO PAULO, Brazil, November 26 – Newly-crowned double world champion Sebastian Vettel stormed into the Formula One record books again on Saturday when he delivered a stunning fastest lap to secure pole position for the Brazilian Grand Prix.
The 24-year-old German became the first man to achieve 15 pole positions in a season when he steered his Red Bull car round the Interlagos circuit in one minute 11.918 seconds.
It bettered the previous mark of 14 set by Nigel Mansell in 1992, although the Briton’s record came from 16 races; Vettel’s is from 19 events.
Vettel’s dazzling and dominant lap time meant he was the only man to break into the one minute 12 second barrier, his closest rival coming in the form of teammate Mark Webber, 0.181 seconds slower, but fending off competition to secure another all Red Bull front row.
“There has been quite some talk about this record and the best thing was not to think about it at all,” Vettel said.
“I am enjoying the moment. I put everything in the last lap and I was very emotional when I crossed the line as I knew that was all I had.
“Really special – it took the master in the discipline Nigel Mansell a couple of races less – and now I am looking forward to the race.”
Webber added: “I tried to help old Nigel out but it didn’t work out. I just missed it by a tenth. It was close, but not close enough.”
McLaren drivers Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton were unable to catch the Red Bulls and settled for third and fourth on the grid ahead of Fernando Alonso of Ferrari.
“I’m enjoying the moment because this is my best qualifying here for the last six years,” said Button.
“I always love racing here; it’s such a good circuit for fighting and overtaking.”
Hamilton however, was left feeling disappointed having been tipped by many to beat Vettel to pole.
“It’s a little bit disappointing,” said the 2008 world champion.
“We’re still on the second row but I would have liked to have been stronger. I’m not too happy with my performance. I just wasn’t quick enough.”
Nico Rosberg took sixth for Mercedes ahead of local hero Felipe Massa in the second Ferrari and Adrian Sutil of Force India.
Crowd favourite Bruno Senna of Renault secured ninth place ahead of Michael Schumacher in the second Mercedes.
The first part of qualifying Q1 was frantic as all 24 drivers went out on track from the off in order to secure a dry lap time before the rain.
Button topped the times ahead of Hamilton, followed by Vettel and Webber, but out went Pastor Maldonado of Williams along with Lotus drivers Heikki Kovalainen and Jarno Trulli, Vitantonio Liuzzi and Daniel Ricciardo of Hispania and Virgin drivers Timo Glock and Jerome D’Ambrosio.
Vettel was on top in Q2 breezing into the one minute 13 second barrier ahead of Rosberg and Webber.
Both Massa and Schumacher scraped into the top ten with supersoft tyres, the local Ferrari driver taking eighth while seven-times champion Schumacher edged out Paul Di Resta to tenth.
That meant the Force India driver will start 11th on Sunday ahead of local star Rubens Barrichello of Williams.
Jaime Alguersuari took 13th on the grid ahead of his Toro Rosso team-mate Sebastien Buemi, Vitaly Petrov of Renault and Sauber drivers Kamui Kobayashi and Sergio Perez who qualified 17th and 17th respectively.
The top 10 shootout saw most drivers easing the heat into their tyres with a couple of warm-up laps before Vettel stormed in with a lap of one minute 12.268 seconds.
As if that wasn’t fast enough, he set an higher marker just minutes later breaking into the one minute 12 second barrier leaving Webber and Button to fight for second.