After equalling Nigel Mansell's record number of poles in a single season in Abu Dhabi, Sebastian Vettel has now set a new one two weeks later in Brazil. The back-to-back world champion secured his fifteenth pole position of 2011 in Sao Paulo with a lap time of 01:11.918 minutes. Second and third-fastest qualifiers were Red Bull team-mate Mark Webber and Jenson Button: the McLaren driver is thus strongly placed to finish as championship runner-up on Sunday.
Lewis Hamilton posted the fourth-fastest time ahead of Fernando Alonso and Nico Rosberg. The Top Ten is completed by Felipe Massa, Adrian Sutil, Bruno Senna and Michael Schumacher. Eleventh-placed Paul di Resta missed out on the decisive third qualifying segment by just 13 thousandths. Local hero Rubens Barrichello also failed to make the cut in Q2, qualifying twelfth ahead of the Toro Rosso duo, Jaime Alguersuari and Sebastien Buemi. The latter was overheard on team radio lamenting a lack of power.
Kamui Kobayashi, Sergio Perez and Vitaly Petrov booked grid places 15 to 17. Pastor Maldonado, Jarno Trulli, Heikki Kovalainen, Vitantonio Liuzzi, Daniel Ricciardo and Jerome d'Ambrosio progressed no further than Q1. Timo Glock posted his worst qualifying result of the season – P24, which condemns him to start last on tomorrow's grid. "What a disastrous Saturday that was," admitted the Virgin driver frankly. He is fervently praying for a wet race.