Nico Rosberg, Mercedes, Interlagos, 2015

Rosberg pips Hamilton to extend run of pole positions

2015 Brazilian Grand Prix qualifying

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Nico Rosberg extended his run of pole positions to five in a row by beating Lewis Hamilton by less than a tenth of a second at Interlagos.

The Mercedes pair had the battle for the front row all to themselves throughout qualifying, with Sebastian Vettel ending up over half a second off Rosberg in third place.


Soft tyres were the preferred choice of rubber for every driver in Q1: though some initially opted to run on the mediums, with the pace-setting Mercedes drivers choosing the softer tyres everyone soon followed.

Valtteri Bottas held out the longest, eventually ditching his mediums to be sure of a place in Q2. Team mate Felipe Massa, meanwhile, needed a late improvement to secure his place in the next round after being briefly held up by by the other Brazilian on the track – Felipe Nasr. Both made it through, though Massa was unimpressed with the rookie’s driving.

Fernando Alonso was also left deflated after his car broke down for the second day in a row. With both McLaren drivers failing to reach Q2, the pair took to the podium to wave to the crowd.

The Manor drivers failed to make it through as usual. Alexander Rossi,participating in his last F1 qualifying session this year – edged Will Stevens for the second time. The final driver in the drop zone was Pastor Maldonado.

Drivers eliminated in Q1

16Pastor MaldonadoLotus-Mercedes1’13.385
17Jenson ButtonMcLaren-Honda1’13.425
18Alexander RossiManor-Ferrari1’16.151
19Will StevensManor-Ferrari1’16.283
20Fernando AlonsoMcLaren-Honda


While most of the remaining drivers were preoccupied with securing a place in Q3, the Mercedes drivers could already take that for granted and were concentration on optimising their strategy for the race.

Hamilton headed the times again with a 1’11.665, while Rosberg was over half a second down on his team mate. “Is that fast enough, do you think?” he asked his race engineer “Shall I try another one?” Tony Ross told him “we will go for lap three”.

Rosberg, knowing he would have to start the race on the tyres he qualified on in Q2, was reluctant to take more life out of them than was absolutely necessary. “That’s really a big compromise,” he said. “That’s got to be quick enough, come on.” Mercedes relented and Rosberg’s gamble was vindicated as only Vettel beat his time before the end of Q2.

Having come close to dropping out in Q1, Massa made it through in Q2 as well, his position secured when Carlos Sainz Jnr failed to reach the top ten with the final lap of the session. The other Toro Rosso of Max Verstappen had already secured a place in the final shoot-out.

However Romain Grosjean was left behind after the Lotus driver spun at Ferradura, damaging his tyres.

Drivers eliminated in Q2

11Felipe NasrSauber-Ferrari1’12.989
12Carlos Sainz JnrToro Rosso-Renault1’13.045
13Sergio PerezForce India-Mercedes1’13.147
14Marcus EricssonSauber-Ferrari1’13.233
15Romain GrosjeanLotus-Mercedes1’13.913


Rosberg was the lead Mercedes driver on the track in Q3, and his efforts were slightly tidier than his team mate’s resulting in a fractionally quicker lap each time. There was just 78 thousandths of a second in it, however, as the number six car captured its sixth pole position of the year.

Behind them the gap between the two Williams drivers remained wide, though with Bottas due to receive a three-place grid penalty he will lose his fourth-place qualifying position between the two Ferraris and end up one place ahead of team mate Massa.

Sebastian Vettel reckoned there was only a few hundredths of a second left in his car at the end of qualifying, while Kimi Raikkonen owned up to an error at Mergulho on his last run.

Despite the potential benefit of the newer Renault power unit, Daniel Ricciardo was slightly slower than his team mate, and he will be moved back ten places on the grid because of that engine change.

Top ten in Q3

1Nico RosbergMercedes1’11.282
2Lewis HamiltonMercedes1’11.360
3Sebastian VettelFerrari1’11.804
4Valtteri BottasWilliams-Mercedes1’12.085
5Kimi RaikkonenFerrari1’12.144
6Nico HulkenbergForce India-Mercedes1’12.265
7Daniil KvyatRed Bull-Renault1’12.322
8Felipe MassaWilliams-Mercedes1’12.415
9Daniel RicciardoRed Bull-Renault1’12.417
10Max VerstappenToro Rosso-Renault1’12.739

2015 Brazilian Grand Prix

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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48 comments on “Rosberg pips Hamilton to extend run of pole positions”

  1. Well Rosberg is quick, no error.

    1. @lockup Yes, although for the 2nd year in a row, Rosberg picks a strange line out of the last corner and loses time on s3. I think the race shall be very similar to 2014, that is, if Merc allows Nico to have a good start. I think in the last 2 years Nico only won Austria easily, Lewis has had many more easy races.

      1. Surely Merc will be ‘warm’ towards Nico @peartree and give him a proper clutch this time? :))

        Seriously I think he has caught up on his start settings, Austin was just a fraction of reaction time. Then yes I too am expecting a repeat of last year. I do suspect Lewis has lost a tiny bit of intensity now in any case, but let’s see.

      2. @peartree, for a start, are you referring to the 2014 or the 2015 Austrian GP? Your comment is rather ambiguous in that respect.

        Equally, are you really sure that is the only easy victory that Rosberg has had in the past two years? What about, for example, the 2014 Australian GP? Or the 2014 German GP? How about the 2015 Spanish GP? In all of those instances Rosberg won with far larger advantages over the driver in second place than in either the 2014 or 2015 Austrian GP’s, so why do you not consider those races to have been easier for Rosberg?

        1. @lockup Well in general Nico’s starts have been affected by the mid season rule change. For some reason as in the 2014 mid season change, it triggered a decrease of Rosberg’s relative performance to Lewis.

          Anon I was talking winning against Lewis, as Merc enjoys a sizeable advantage over the competition.

  2. 33 thousandths of a second between them last year and 78 thousandths of a second this year …

    I really love quali on those short tracks!

  3. Had Rosberg done this quali streak from the 1st race, this season wouldn’t have been so boring..

    1. We can only hope that he continues this next year..

      1. B, the thing is, pole positions are no good for Rosberg if he cannot sustain that sort of performance in race trim.

        We’ve seen how, last year, his set up tended to provide him with better performance over a single lap, but tended to come at a cost of worse performance over a long stint, leaving him vulnerable to being passed during the race. He can put himself at a strategic advantage, but he has really failed all too often to actually use it to his advantage.

        1. Rosberg made the mistake on concentrating on his race pace this year instead of keeping on top of qualifying. It’s so difficult to follow cars this year pole position is key. IMO he’s figured this out too late.

          1. Agreed. Where was this ‘drive’ when it counted? That’s why he’ll never be a world champion. (Feel free to quote me).

    2. depends how you look at it… he only converted 1 of those poles on a win… which is pretty similar to his performance last year: 3 wins from 11 poles.

    3. His problem is pressure. When last year he had a large championship lead he seemed to tighten up and get slower, start of this year there was expectation on him and he was know where. Tbis year as soon as Hamilton was so far in front Rosberg seemed to switch on….he thinks too much for raw speed he has the edge on Hamilton until his mind messes up. He is the only team mate I have seen beat Hamilton so much in quali. Next year however I expect even if he starts well towards the end of the year if in contention he will start to fall away.

  4. Dang where was Rosberg all season long? He should have been in this form all year long! Seems like for Hamilton it’s a case of sour grapes according to what he said after missing out on pole and after skipping the photo op?

  5. Rosberg, at this very stage of his career (latter half of 2015), reminds me more and more, with each passing race, the run of form Vettel had in 2010. Seb was, back then, fast (probably the fastest) in Quali (although he was all season long), he had a dominant car, suffered many reliability issues throughout the year, beat his teammate comprehensively in the closing stages of the year (that remains to see from Nico) and, whilst he could win at will when in Pole (running in clean air), he seemed unable to challenge from behind.

    Anyone else seeing the similarities?

    1. No not really, 2010 was hardly dominant for RBR (VET was quick in Quali, but MW was often 5th or 6th behind both MCL and ALO), at many races MCL and SF had cars on front row. The Gap between the top 6 cars, incl quali, at most races was max <4 tenths here and there. The cars were actually much closer in the Race, so if you had a good set up and consistent. That why the season was so close, right up to the last race, so pressure on those still in the title race was there.

      ROS is now driving for what, what pressure, the titles are done and they have the most dominant car in F1 history (poles, front rows lockouts, %wins) , so provided he and Lewis don't crash, it's a done deal for MGP. 2010 was nothing like last year or this year. These days if just 1 car gets to within 0.5 in quali they are jumping up and down.

      Hopefully the others can catch up another 5 tenths+ over the winter

      1. Robert, MW was not often 5th or 6th in 2010. That was the year where SV and MW were best matched in qualy, often securing the first row.

        Also, the gap between the RBR and the others, depending on the track, could stretch up to 1 sec to the Ferraris McLarens.

        Not reliable facts over there mate!

        1. So you’re saying the dominance we’re seeing for the last two years is the same as what RBR enjoyed? Lol. Who has the wrong facts?

      2. Many races with Mclaren and Ferrari in the front row? That happened on ONE occasion during the season, which was Monza, Alonso on pole and Button second.

        On the other TWO occasions Red Bull didn’t set the pace, they were on the front row with Vettel.

        They had easily the fastest and best car of that season. But their drivers weren’t up to it sometimes, and reliability also hurt their chances. Mark Webber was in close contention for the WDC against Vettel, Alonso and Hamilton. That says it all.

        1. Well, maybe “their drivers weren’t up to it sometimes”, but the other three title contenders had a similar share of errors/underperformances.

        2. Webber was once the team mate of Rosberg and hammered him. Hamilton has it easier than Vettel if we go by most peoples way of deciding who is the best driver based on 1 season.

          1. Cmon dude apples with apples please. Rosberg was in his rookie year and 21, Webber was at his peak in his 5th year and 29/30.

        3. YOU ARE actually WRONG,

          The front row is not necessarily pole but 2nd, his point other cars were very close in raw pace, it is a fact. Here are the stats (of non RBR on front row in 2010) 11 Races, more than half the races.
          ABU: HAM
          BEL: HAM
          GER: ALO
          TUR: HAM
          MAL: ROS
          BAH: MAS
          SING: ALO (POLE)
          ITALY: ALO.(POLE)
          CAN: HAM (POLE)
          BRAZIL :HULK (POLE)

          We can also say ALO had a competitive car but his bad driving cost him the title. He crashed in MAL, BEL (both his own fault) and in MON (FP3 which buggered his race). MW was in contention, that doesn’t mean he was in a dominant car, just that he scored enough/more points to stay mathematically in touch. Not denying it was a slightly better car, dominant it was not. MGP Hybrids are dominant, Ferrari 2004, Williams 92-97

          By the way MW was actually still a very quick driver 2010 & 2011. He was younger than Senna was when hi the wall – he blew ROS away when they were teammates (on Williams internal scorecard Quali and Races), so don’t be quick to slag the guy.

    2. The RB6 WAS a dominant car. It was even more dominant even than the RB7, although the standings don’t reflect that. Vettel himself said in 2011 that the 2011 RBR (RB7) was less far ahead of the pack than the 2010 car (RB6).

      The problem of the RB6 was that, well, in Vettel’s case mainly, was cursed with unreliability. For all for Seb’s errors (Crashing into JB in Spa, Crashing into Mark in Istanbul, scrappy drive when not in clean air), if he had enjoyed even almost perfect reliability, he might’ve dominanated the WDC as he did in 2011.
      Although, even if Mark’s case, he, too, endured many, many mechanic niggles:

      And “isn’t Rosberg fighting for the Championship”? Really? Well, ok, not right NOW, for 2015 it’s all over, but just how many times has he cracked under pressure, just because of the [I]championship[/I] pressure? Just this year.
      Belgium, Japan, United States (that would definately went down to history if it was the final round), Hungary.

      Since he’s in a dominant car, he’s automatically qualified as a Title Contender. Whether he makes it or not, is an entirely different matter.

      1. @keisalex

        The problem of the RB6 was that, well, in Vettel’s case mainly, was cursed with unreliability.

        And that’s why it wasn’t a dominant car. It’s useless having a fast car if it isn’t reliable. It’s like describing the 2005 Mclaren MP4-20 (which won 10/19 races, the highest ever for a non-championship winning car) as dominant.

        1. Keisoglou Alexandros (@)
          26th November 2015, 13:08

          @david-a Aha… ok then, i agree with this view.

      2. 2011 was more about consistency/tuning of VET, than the good car. Why was MW, still a quick driver in 2011, not able to even come close to VET and just barely held on for 3rd in the WDC by a few points, his car was super reliable. He averaged pretty much 4th over the season. If a car is dominant, both drivers must be 1-2 in the majority, not all, They appeared on podium together in less than 50% of the race, normally MW in very distant 3rd.

        Just doesn’t stack up.

  6. I think I know why Hamilton didn’t show up to the taking of the post-qualifying photos.

    To compensate for Mercedes being “extra warm” to Nico Rosberg, Hamilton is giving Rosberg the cold shoulder.

    1. @felidae Lewis hasn’t yet realised how much his team does for him. If he knew he wouldn’t bother losing a couple races to Nico that really don’t matter, the champs are wrapped up.

    2. He was heading to the post qualy photos when a gust of window blew him to his motor home instead.

      1. Fell of the chair laughing. Kudos :D

      2. ResultantAsteroid
        14th November 2015, 23:13

        Man, that was really hilarious :-D

    3. Lewis is a sensitive diva. I just puked in my mouth a little.

  7. Hulkenberg again showing his speed. Such a shame he’s not in that Ferrari instead of an undeserving Raikkonen.

    1. @john-h Interlagos is really an unique track. F1 layout needs more character more variety. For some drivers it’s a gem for others a bogey track. Some drivers are or were quicker relative to other tracks, for instances Massa was actually a quick driver in Interlagos and Nico is still quite quick in Interlagos. Hamilton and Ricciardo are on the other side utterly average in Interlagos, neither have ever shown that well in relation to their respective team-mates.

    2. @peartree Problem is, Kimi has 18 bogey tracks out of a possible 19.

    3. The deserving HULK is struggling to even beat his own teammate Perez. Poor underachiever.

  8. Very underrated by most people easily, Hamilton’s toughest teammate in qualy and even the races the gap is not sily except Monaco before Hamilton pitted. People just discredit Hamilton all the time, fact is this formula is hard to overtake and Nico y far is hs toughest challengeryet he as beat him both years.

  9. Eventhough it is a difficult track to overtake i doubt Rosberg can hold Hamilton.Hamilton will pull something special tommarrow because he wants that victory so badly many reasons may behind it such as his senna tribute,maiden inerlagos win,to keepi his pride.He will be on all attack mode.

    1. It’s a decent track for overtaking…

      1. Yeah maybe vs a non teammate lol. Did you watch lastyear?. Hamilton could barey follow it was like Mexico not once did he look like could follow and this year it is harder. Who knows though if Hamilton has one of his races where he has the more speed in a big wy he could do it. His last sector was absoloute mega today. But ill be shocked if he can even sty within a second.

    2. Hope youre right but i doubt it we have actually not seen an overtake on track this year in the dry. Only once in the wet in Austin when Nico passed Hamilton. Unless there is a gimme with the wind lol then mabe but i doubt it. Hamilton was mega last year though with his tyres here and was gonna overtake Nico with an overcut which never happens these days but he binned it.

      If im Hamilton i would stay 2 secs behind Nico and save tyres it is realy his only shot but it rarely works and Nico my sty out for ages to hinder Hamilton. Hamilton defo better at looking after the tyres tho in race trim imo. If it rains im going for Hamilton defo Ros has ony been faster than Hamilton once in the rain at Merc and that was Austin, Texas. Lewis is much better in the wet.

    3. LotsOfControl (@for-unlawful-carnal-knowledge)
      14th November 2015, 19:48

      If there’s anything Hamilton has to pull, he has to pull his head out of Senna’s rear end.

      1. But that’s where he found Senna’s baton.

  10. on belgian tv they said that due to vettel & rosberg not waiting for Lewis (like they do every gp) it means Lewis missed the foto and he will be fined € 5000 is this true?

    1. If so that will be a blow as he has to pay to have his Pagani fixed, I think he might just survive financially.

  11. I’m not to glad.

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