Hamilton gets Brazil pole but Rosberg banking on Turn 1

© F1 Pulse, 12 November 2016
© Daimler AG

Lewis Hamilton bagged pole position on Saturday in hope of winning his first Brazilian Grand Prix in his tenth attempt and keep his title hopes alive for the finale, but he should watch out for championship leader and Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg at the start of the race.

© Daimler AG

Hamilton bagged pole at the Autodromo Jose Carlos Pace with a lap of 1 minute 10.736 seconds, a tenth quicker than Rosberg, who has won the last two races at Interlagos from pole.

"It's always a track that I've struggled at, so I'm really happy to be up at the front," Hamilton said. "This is a special race which I have not won so that's my goal."

Rosberg, however, is keen on not letting that happen.

"As we've seen this year pole isn't always the guy who then wins the race," the German reflected. "I'm going to try and get Lewis into Turn 1. That’s the plan."

Both Hamilton and Rosberg registered their best times on their final runs in the last leg of qualifying, improving on their banker laps by a tenth. But the battle could have swayed either way as Rosberg approached the final corner on his last attempt.

"Nico was actually a few hundredths ahead on his final lap until Turn 12, where he couldn't get on the throttle early enough and lost the advantage up the hill," claimed Mercedes motorsport boss Toto Wolff.

© Mark Thompson/Getty Images/Red Bull Racing

Niki Lauda likes Red Bull

Still, Rosberg would be glad that he doesn't have the hot-headed Max Verstappen, who banged wheels going into Turn 1 in the preceding Mexican GP, lined up behind him on the starting grid. Instead he would have to fend off Kimi Raikkonen, who qualified P3 with an admittedly "average" lap.

Verstappen was disappointed with fourth and shrugged off the controversy surrounding Mercedes call to ask him to stay out of the title fight.

"I haven't paid much attention to the stories of Mercedes talking with Red Bull, Niki (Lauda) was in our hospitality but he just likes our food and drinks, they are very good. He is Austrian so perhaps just wanted an Austrian drink," said the teenager.

Rosberg can wrap up the title should he win the race on Sunday, regardless of where Hamilton finishes.

Close from third to sixth

Sebastian Vettel reckoned third was possible, but was "probably a bit conservative around the last corner" and had to settle for fifth, 0.010 seconds behind Verstappen and ahead of Daniel Ricciardo who felt "so-so about sixth place"

"We knew qualy would be tight with Ferrari in dry conditions, and it is close and I think that's what makes it a little frustrating," said the Australian Red Bull driver referring to the gap from P3 to P6 covered by just 0.136 seconds. "It's fun when it's that close but not fun when you are the last of the bunch."

Haas recorded its best qualifying position with Romain Grosjean in seventh, the Frenchman crediting new brakes for the result. The Force India pair of Nico Hulkenberg and Sergio Perez and McLaren's Fernando Alonso rounded up the top ten.


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