Brazilian Grand Prix: Qualifying

The Autódromo José Carlos Pace hosts the final Qualifying Session of the 2007 F1 Season. With three drivers capable of winning the World Drivers Championship this weekend, the Brazilian Grand Prix looks set to be one of the most memorable races of the season.

Interlagos hosted its first official Formula One race in 1973, and is renowned for its anti-clockwise direction and the subsequent forces exerted on the drivers. With Ferrari s Kimi Raikkonen and both McLaren drivers all battling for the Championship, this Qualifying session will be by far the more important of the season. Grid positions today could well cement the outcome of both the 71 lap race, as well as the Championship.

Following challenging track conditions during the first two Practice Sessions yesterday, the 2.7 mile long track is dry ahead of Qualifying. Track temperature at the start of Q1 is a record 60 degrees with an air temperature of 32 degrees.

Qualifying 1:

The Spyker of Yamamoto is the first car to take to the track, shortly joined by his team-mate Sutil. Yamamoto set an initial time of 1:16.135 on a reasonably scruffy lap, Sutil setting a time of 1:15.217 some thirty seconds later. The hotter temperatures of this session could well cause problems for many teams, with the McLarens losing stability under braking.

Ralf Schumacher, on his final outing with Toyota this weekend, set the next competitive time of 1:14.256. Meanwhile Sutil retires to the side of the track. The Renaults then go one and two, with Fisichella leading Kovalainen on a 1:14.026. Hamilton begins his first flying lap, as Webber sets the fastest lap on 1:13.081. Hamilton beats the Australian s time by 0.048 on 1:13.033, a second slower than practice this morning. Alonso goes fifth fastest on a 1:13.674.

Raikkonen takes the top position on a 1:13.016, for Massa to then improve his time with a 1:12.303, leading his team-mate on the timesheets. Mika Hakkinen watches qualifying from the McLaren garage, as Alonso prepares to head out to defend his position in eighth.

Yamamoto fails to improve his time, although with thirty seconds to go, he can start another lap to improve from twenty-second. Ralf Schumacher improves his time to eleventh. Jenson Button currently eighteenth, just improves to sixteenth. Kovalainen has a poor final sector and fails to improve to the second session. Alonso improved to second in the dying seconds on the softer compound tyre.

Drivers knocked out:

17. H. Kovalainen
18. T. Sato
19. K. Nakajima
20. A. Davidson
21. A. Sutil
22. S. Yamamoto

Qualifying 2:

Ralf Schumacher is the first car out on track, some four minutes into the session. With eight minutes remaining Trulli leads Coulthard, ahead of Schumacher and Vettel no other driver has completed a flying lap.

Alonso sets a time of 1:12.637, only to be beaten by Massa on a 1:12.374. Raikkonen then goes fastest on 1:12.161, Hamilton setting a time of 1:12.296 to go second. On home soil, Barrichello is doing well, currently eighth, outperforming his team-mate, currently twelfth. With four minutes remaining Kubica goes fifth on a 1:12.641.

Currently in the drop zone are Barrichello, Rosberg, Coulthard, Button, Schumacher and Vettel. Everyone but the top five opt to attempt another flying lap. Coulthard improves to sixth setting personal bests in all three sectors. Rosberg and then Webber go faster than David, while Barrichello improves to tenth, only to be immediately knocked out of the running for Qualifying 3 by Trulli.

Drivers knocked out:

11. R. Barrichello
12. G. Fisichella
13. S. Vettel
14. V. Liuzzi
15. R. Schumacher
16. J. Button

Qualifying 3:

Lewis Hamilton leads the drivers out, with many of them sitting at the end of the pit lane for up to two minutes before taking to the track. Hamilton sets the first fastest time of 1:14.377 as the cars build fuel credits for tomorrow s race. Lewis is on the softer compound tyre during this phase of Qualifying.

With seven minutes remaining, Raikkonen pits for soft compound tyres. Massa follows him in for his first stop of this session. Trulli and Kubica almost come together in the pit lane. Meanwhile both Hamilton and Alonso come into the pits together.

Raikkonen sets the fastest time in Sector 1 and comes up behind Lewis Hamilton on his out lap. Hamilton moves well out of the way to avoid any penalty. Raikkonen sets a time of 1:12.539, only for Massa to go fastest on 1:12.128.

Hamilton goes second on 1:12.410. Alonso is currently fifth behind Webber. Hamilton and Alonso both pit together, Alonso looks like his tyres had grained. Hamilton again rejoined in front of Raikkonen. Massa sets another blistering first sector time. Raikkonen improves to second, Massa secures pole on a 1:11.931.

Hamilton sets an incredible middle sector, but only goes second on 1:12.082. Alonso goes fourth ahead of Webber. Heidfeld is sixth, then team-mate Kubica, Trulli, Coulthard and Rosberg.

The crowd erupt at seeing Hamilton fail to clinch pole after an excellent lap, the Brazilian fans celebrate Massa s pole position. If the grid order remains at the end of tomorrow s race, Lewis Hamilton will become World Champion.