Sao Paulo, November 8, 2014 – Nico Rosberg’s pole position for the Brazilian Grand Prix, using the P Zero Yellow soft tyres, was the fastest-ever pole lap ever seen in the 41-year history of Interlagos. Rosberg set a fastest time of 1m10.023s in the final qualifying session, beating Ruben Barrichello’s pole record of 1m10.646s from 2004. Rosberg’s time was even close to the all-time fastest lap of Interlagos, which was set by Barrichello in first qualifying the same year: 1m09.822s. Mercedes also equalled Red Bull’s record for 18 pole positions in one season, while Rosberg claimed the pole position trophy for this year.
With a good amount of grip and high track evolution on the newly laid asphalt in Brazil, the times became rapidly faster – with the pole position record beaten already in Q1. All the drivers used the softer compound in an attempt to get through to Q2, with the Williams drivers the last to change from the medium. On average, the difference between the two compounds remained between 0.8 to 1.0 seconds, depending on the car.
Despite the widespread predictions of rain, and an overnight thunderstorm, qualifying remained dry with the session starting in 27 degrees centigrade ambient and 39 degrees of track temperature. However, rain showers are still expected for the race tomorrow, which will undoubtedly complicate the strategy, especially as the historical safety car probability is already 60%.
Normally a three-stop strategy would be quickest, but with a short track of just 4.309 kilometres, traffic will be an issue and this will affect each team’s choice of tactics. Different strategies were already in evidence today, with Toro Rosso’s Daniil Kvyat electing not to run at all in Q2 and save tyres, as a penalty means that he will be starting from the back in any case. The Ferrari drivers were the only ones to complete just one run in Q3, also saving a set of tyres. As was the case in the United States last week, just four cars were eliminated in Q1 and four more in Q2.
Rosberg also continued his monopoly of the free practice sessions in Brazil by setting the fastest time in FP3 this morning, using the medium tyre.
Pirelli’s motorsport director Paul Hembery said: “We had cooler conditions today, which suited our nominated tyres better than the unusually hot track temperatures that we saw yesterday. Qualifying was an extremely tight battle, with the threat of rain providing an extra edge, but that threat if anything will intensify tomorrow. Obviously this will have a big effect on the strategy, but if it stays dry the quickest theoretical strategy is a three-stopper, although we would expect most teams to try a two-stopper in order to avoid getting caught up in traffic. After an interrupted day yesterday all the teams managed to collect more data today, with the top two qualifiers separated by just three-hundredths of a second. We’ve seen the fastest-ever pole lap of Interlagos today, which underlines the way that the cars and the tyres have developed over the last 10 years.”
The Pirelli strategy predictor:
A three-stop strategy is theoretically the fastest for the 7l-lap race at Interlagos; the track with the second-shortest lap of the year after Monaco. However, this means that traffic is a real issue so this strategy is a risk for anything other than the very fastest cars. The fastest theoretical strategy is: a short stint on soft before changing to medium; medium again on lap 21 and a final stint on the medium from lap 46. A two-stop strategy is almost as quick and carries a lot smaller risk of hold-ups: start on soft, change to medium on lap 13, then medium again on lap 42. Those choosing to start on the medium have another two-stop option: change to the medium again on lap 29, then try to make up time at the end of the race by switching to soft on lap 58. Most teams will probably start with the idea of doing a two-stop strategy, but maintain the flexibility to do a three-stopper if necessary. If it rains, as seems highly likely, then the whole strategy changes completely.
Fastest compounds in FP3:
Rosberg 1m10.446s Soft new
Hamilton 1m10.560s Soft new
Massa 1m10.875s Soft new
Top 10 tyre use:
Rosberg 1m10.023s Soft new
Hamilton 1m10.056s Soft new
Massa 1m10.247s Soft new
Bottas 1m10.305s Soft new
Button 1m10.930s Soft used
Vettel 1m10.938s Soft new
Magnussen 1m10.969s Soft used
Alonso 1m10.977s Soft new
Ricciardo 1m11.075s Soft new
Raikkonen 1m11.099s Soft new