Barrichello puts Button under pressure in Brazil

barrichelloBarrichello delights fans with pole in chaotic Brazil qualy; Button under pressure in 14th

Local hero Rubens Barrichello did everything that was asked of him by his legions of supporters and then some more as he stormed to pole position in a dramatic rain-delayed qualifying session for the Brazilian Grand Prix which claimed the scalp of his teammate and title rival Jenson Button.

Treacherous weather conditions at Interlagos on Saturday meant that it was nearly three hours before the grid was decided for Sunday’s race.

Barrichello took to the track for the final qualifying shoot-out safe in the knowledge that his teammate and title rival Jenson Button was out of the money in fourteenth place after Brawn left the Briton out on full wet tyres in Q2 instead of intermediates.

Barrichello traded laptimes with Mark Webber and Jarno Trulli before blitzing the damp Sau Paulo circuit in a 1:19.576 to clinch his first pole position in over four years – and give himself a perfect opportunity to take points off Button and put the Briton under pressure in the battle for the championship.

“It is a special time for me,” said Barrichello. “It’s obviously a great time when you go out and you have a balance, it doesn’t matter if it is wet or dry, just off you go. There were plenty of strategies, you never know what is going to happen, it was so variable. “I am so happy, it was a great drive and it may be that we have less fuel than them, but it’s better to start at the front and have my own race pace than towards the middle of the pack.

“I am very, very happy with this situation. It is great to see that all the people stayed to see it because they went through a heavy period of rain. I was expecting them to leave but happy they stayed to see it.”

“After so many years, after 17 in F1, I never got out of the car for a pee twice in the middle of qualifying! I am very proud of what we achieved today. We were on the borderline for Q2, we should have gone for inters but we were lucky enough to just make it.

“I knew car was competitive, like I said, I am keeping my feet on the ground because we have won nothing yet. We did fantastic today, it will be a great night and I will sleep, but we still have to get everything tomorrow.”

Mark Webber will line up alongside the Brazilian in second place, ahead of Force India’s Adrian Sutil and Toyota’s Jarno Trulli.

There was real doubt about whether the final qualifying shoot-out would even take place after heavy showers wrecked havoc with proceedings throughout the afternoon.

Heavy showers in the morning had already cut final practice short, and although the rain had begun to ease ahead of the all crucial qualifying hour, the drivers still had to contend with treacherous conditions as they hit the wet and slippery track and battled to generate heat into their tyres for their first flying laps.

It didn t take much to convince race control that the track was still too dangerous for the cars though. Q1 was stopped after only a few minutes when Giancarlo Fisichella aquaplaned off the track at the second Senna S.

It didn t take much to convince race control that the track was still too dangerous for the cars though. Q1 was stopped after only a few minutes when Giancarlo Fisichella aquaplaned off the track at the second Senna S.

When Q1 was eventually re-started, Nico Rosberg lapped quickest with championship contenders Jenson Button and Rubens Barrichello sitting pretty in fifth and sixth place.

But it was the worst possible outcome for Sebastian Vettel who could only manage sixteenth after Red Bull Racing gambled on a dry car setup in anticipation of Sunday s race.

Parc ferme rules prevent the teams from changing the setup of the car between the end of qualifying and the start of the race. That gave the teams an additional headache going into qualifying since Sunday’s race is widely predicted to be dry.

Red Bull’s gamble proved disastrous for Vettel as the conditions worsened in qualifying. Despite his best efforts to wrestle his RB5 into Q2, the German driver could only muster a 1:25.009, over two seconds slower than pacesetter Kimi Raikkonen. He starts sixteenth.

McLaren also opted for a dry setup and that saw Lewis Hamilton engaged in a battle just to keep his car on the track, let alone produce a lap quick enough to progress to Q2. The Briton had a foray onto the grass and ended up eighteenth, behind teammate Heikki Kovalainen, but ahead of BMW Sauber’s Nick Heidfeld.

Force India s Tonio Liuzzi was race control s hapless yellow canary in Q2. His VJM02 aquaplaned on the start/finish straight and careered into the outside wall, re-affirming the danger of the conditions.

After over an hour of waiting and several FIA track inspections, Q2 was eventually restarted against the backdrop of clear skies and improved track conditions.

Williams led the way once again by gambling on the intermediate tyres, which quickly proved to be the tyre of choice. But while others followed Williams’ lead by switching to the intermediate tyres, Jenson Button and Brawn made a grave error by staying out on the full wets. Button did his best to wrestle his Brawn car into the final shoot out but was unable to produce the same lap times as the intermediate drivers.

“At the start of the session I had way too much understeer in the car on that run, when the circuit wasn’t wet like it was in the first session,” Button told the BBC. “I couldn’t do anything with the car and on lap three the rears started going away so that was it.

“We made a mistake not putting the inters on at the end of the session.”

Once again the Briton will find himself perilously entrenched in the midfield when the lights go out for Sunday’s race, in fourteenth place. To make matters worse Button will be sandwiched by a raft of rookie drivers going down to the first corner with Kamui Kobayashi, Jaimie Alguersuari and Romain Grosjean ahead of him and Tonio Liuzzi immediately behind him.

1       Rubens Barrichello      Brawn           1:19.576
2       Mark Webber             Red Bull        0:00.092
3       Adrian Sutil            Force India     0:00.336
4       Jarno Trulli            Toyota          0:00.521
5       Kimi Räikkönen          Ferrari         0:00.592
6       Sebastien Buemi         Toro Rosso      0:00.674
7       Nico Rosberg            Williams        0:00.750
8       Robert Kubica           BMW             0:01.055
9       Kazuki Nakajima         Williams        0:01.098
10      Fernando Alonso         Renault         0:01.846
11      Kamui Kobayashi         Toyota          0:02.384
12      Alguersuari Jaime       Toro Rosso      0:02.655
13      Romain Grosjean         Renault         0:02.901
14      Jenson Button           Brawn           0:02.928
15      Vitantanio Liuzzi       Force India     0:05.069
16      Sebastian Vettel        Red Bull        0:05.433
17      Heikki Kovalainen       McLaren         0:05.476
18      Lewis Hamilton          McLaren         0:05.616
19      Nick Heidfeld           BMW             0:05.939
20      Giancarlo Fisichella    Force India     0:21.127