It was the first time Vettel had topped a session all weekend, with the four-time world champion looking untouchable in Q3 in the tricky conditions.
“It’s great in these conditions to get it all right,” said Vettel after claiming his ninth pole position of the season. “We had very little practice and still got the car to where we wanted it to be in the end, so very happy.”
The third session of this afternoon’s qualifying had to be delayed due to the amount of standing water on the Interlagos track.
When the green light for Q3 was finally given, the drivers all headed out onto the circuit with Pirelli’s full-wet tyre on to analyse the conditions. But with the water clearing quickly, Lotus’ Romain Grosjean darted into the pits to change to the green-liveried intermediate tyre, swiftly followed by the nine other Q3 runners.
Grosjean, despite looking like a contender for pole earlier in the session after setting the fastest Q2 time, went on to finish in sixth behind the Mercedes of Lewis Hamilton. The Toro Rosso duo of Daniel Ricciardo and Jean-Eric Vergne impressed to take seventh and eighth respectively, while local hero Felipe Massa will start his final race for Ferrari from ninth after a disappointing session, one place ahead of the Sauber of Nico Hulkenberg.
Amazingly, despite the rain-affected conditions, qualifying at Interlagos saw only one major incident, when the McLaren of Sergio Perez ran onto the wet kerb at Turn 5 and spun into the wall, ripping off the MP4-28’s front wing. The Mexican driver emerged unscathed from the incident.