Lewis Hamilton oozed with pride on Saturday after making sure he would start his 110th and final race for McLaren from pole position in yesterday’s season-ending Brazilian Grand Prix.
On a tense afternoon, in changing weather conditions, Hamilton and teammate Jenson Button upstaged title fighters Sebastian Vettel and Fernando Alonso by locking out the front row of the grid. Hamilton produced a dramatic and supremely fast final qualifying lap to outstrip all his rivals and maintain his end-of-season domination as McLaren delivered their fourth lockout of the year. The dazzling performance from the two McLaren men left championship contenders Sebastian Vettel of Red Bull and Fernando Alonso of Ferrari down in fourth and eighth places respectively.
However, Alonso was later promoted to seventh on the grid when Williams driver Pastor Maldonado was penalized 10 places.
In his final session for the team before leaving to join Mercedes next year, 27-year-old Hamilton clocked a fastest lap of 1 minute, 12.458 seconds to outpace fellow-Briton Button by 0.1 seconds.
“I am grateful to be able to put the car on the front row and to have a one-two for McLaren in my last qualifying is just great. The team did a fantastic job,” Hamilton said.
“What a great feeling it is. What a great weekend so far and I hope we can push tomorrow. It is great to be one-two with Jenson Button. I am expecting a difficult race. I have always started from fourth or, once, 18th,” he said.
Both Vettel and Alonso were out-qualified by their teammates, Mark Webber, who was third for Red Bull, and Felipe Massa, who was fifth-fastest for Ferrari.
“It was not quick enough and I know I could have done a little better, but let’s wait and see what happens tomorrow,” Vettel said. “Q3 was not perfect. It was not enough. I am keen to go back and look at the data and see where I was as I was not quick enough.”
“All in all we are in good shape and we have been competitive, and we will see what we can do tomorrow,” he said.
A cagey Alonso, who may have run in a setup that may have suited yesterday’s forecast wet weather better than the dry, said: “It is more or less what I expected ... We didn’t gamble and only made minimal changes.”
Vettel will secure the title and become the youngest triple champion in F1 history if he finishes in the top four, no matter where Alonso finishes. Alonso must win with Vettel outside the top four to take his own third title, if both drivers finish.