Barrichello on pole, Button down in 14th

Rubens Barrichello claimed a crucial home pole as both his title rivals had disasters in a remarkable, wet and extremely long Brazilian Grand Prix qualifying session, which lasted nearly three hours in total thanks to a string of rain-induced stoppages and delays

Barrichello on pole, Button down in 14th

World championship leader Jenson Button will start only 14th having stayed out too long on full wets as the track improved in Q2. But he at least has a large points lead to fall back on - whereas Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel qualified an even worse 16th and needs at least second place tomorrow to stay in the title hunt heading to Abu Dhabi.

Mark Webber joins Barrichello on the front row in the second Red Bull, ahead of another great qualifying effort from Force India's Adrian Sutil in third.

Q1 was first red flagged after four minutes when Giancarlo Fisichella spun his Ferrari at the foot of the Senna S and stalled on the racing line, leaving him at the tail of the grid. With conditions near impossible, race control announced that the session would be halted until the weather relented at least slightly.

As the skies became a little lighter, the session was restarted following a 12 minute pause, and although the spray and standing water remained a major issue, the times were immediately 12s faster than the pre-red flag laps.

Vettel had been fastest by a full second among the seven cars that set times prior to the stoppage, but he was quickly pushed down the order to 16th - and could not improve. A trip off the road at Turn 5 did not help, and with the rain coming down harder he again he abandoned his final lap, leaving Vettel facing a near impossible task in tomorrow's race as he strives to stay in title contention.

Both McLarens - running dry set-ups - also made shock Q1 exits, with Lewis Hamilton 18th behind Heikki Kovalainen having gone off at Turn 5 and spun through the sodden grass.

The five minute break before Q2 then stretched to 20 minutes as the officials hoped the rain would ease again - and then the red flags flew before any flying laps were completed as Tonio Liuzzi aquaplaned heavily into both the inside and outside barriers approaching the Senna S. The Force India was wrecked but Liuzzi was unhurt.

The subsequent stoppage lasted nearly an hour and a half as track inspection after track inspection reported no improvement in the circuit's condition. But finally the skies cleared two hours after the session began, and Q2 was able to proceed.

Button soon found his initial run pushed back to 14th place, and then remained on full wets as others switched to intermediates. The Brawn driver failed to find any more time on the improving track and found himself eliminated in Q2 again. He will start behind rookies Kamui Kobayashi - making a fine debut for Toyota - Jaime Alguersuari (Toro Rosso) and Romain Grosjean (Renault).

With the track getting better and better, provisional pole then changed hands countless times through Q3 as all ten drivers pounded round making the best of the drying surface rather than doing the usual single flying laps.

Twice Barrichello took the top spot and twice he was pushed back down the order, before finally he took the chequered flag with a 1m19.576s, beating Webber by just under a tenth of a second to secure his first pole since 2004.

Sutil grabbed third from Toyota's Jarno Trulli right at the end, with Kimi Raikkonen fifth for Ferrari.

Toro Rosso's Sebastien Buemi was rapid throughout and took an excellent sixth, but there was disappointment for Nico Rosberg, who had been quickest in both Q1 and Q2 but could not maintain that pace as the track dried. He fell to seventh, with his team-mate Kazuki Nakajima ninth between Robert Kubica (BMW) and Fernando Alonso (Renault).

Pos Driver Team Q1 Q2 Q3 1. Barrichello Brawn-Mercedes (B) 1:24.100 1:21.659 1:19.576 2. Webber Red Bull-Renault (B) 1:24.722 1:20.803 1:19.668 3. Sutil Force India-Mercedes (B) 1:24.447 1:20.753 1:19.912 4. Trulli Toyota (B) 1:24.621 1:20.635 1:20.097 5. Raikkonen Ferrari (B) 1:23.047 1:21.378 1:20.168 6. Buemi Toro Rosso-Ferrari (B) 1:24.591 1:20.701 1:20.250 7. Rosberg Williams-Toyota (B) 1:22.828 1:20.368 1:20.326 8. Kubica BMW-Sauber (B) 1:23.072 1:21.147 1:20.631 9. Nakajima Williams-Toyota (B) 1:23.161 1:20.427 1:20.674 10. Alonso Renault (B) 1:24.842 1:21.657 1:21.422 11. Kobayashi Toyota (B) 1:24.335 1:21.960 12. Alguersuari Toro Rosso-Ferrari (B) 1:24.773 1:22.231 13. Grosjean Renault (B) 1:24.394 1:22.477 14. Button Brawn-Mercedes (B) 1:24.297 1:22.504 15. Liuzzi Force India-Mercedes (B) 1:24.645 16. Vettel Red Bull-Renault (B) 1:25.009 17. Kovalainen McLaren-Mercedes (B) 1:25.052 18. Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes (B) 1:25.192 19. Heidfeld BMW-Sauber (B) 1:25.515 20. Fisichella Ferrari (B) 1:40.703 All Timing Unofficial 

Brazil Saturday quotes: McLaren
Previous article

Brazil Saturday quotes: McLaren

Next article

Button rues costly tyre mistake

Button rues costly tyre mistake
Load comments
Unpacking the technical changes behind F1 2022's rules shakeup Plus

Unpacking the technical changes behind F1 2022's rules shakeup

Formula 1 cars will look very different this year as the long-awaited fresh rules finally arrive with the stated aim of improving its quality of racing. Autosport breaks down what the return of 'ground effect' aerodynamics - and a flurry of other changes besides - means for the teams, and what fans can expect

Formula 1
Jan 21, 2022
Why new era F1 is still dogged by its old world problems Plus

Why new era F1 is still dogged by its old world problems

OPINION: The 2022 Formula 1 season is just weeks away from getting underway. But instead of focusing on what is to come, the attention still remains on what has been – not least the Abu Dhabi title decider controversy. That, plus other key talking points, must be resolved to allow the series to warmly welcome in its new era

Formula 1
Jan 20, 2022
The Schumacher trait that will give Haas hope in F1 2022 Plus

The Schumacher trait that will give Haas hope in F1 2022

Mick Schumacher’s knack of improving during his second season in a championship was a trademark of his junior formula career, so his progress during his rookie Formula 1 campaign with Haas was encouraging. His target now will be to turn that improvement into results as the team hopes to reap the rewards of sacrificing development in 2021

Formula 1
Jan 19, 2022
The “glorified taxi” driver central to F1’s continued safety push Plus

The “glorified taxi” driver central to F1’s continued safety push

As the driver of Formula 1’s medical car, Alan van der Merwe’s job is to wait – and hope his skills aren’t needed. JAMES NEWBOLD hears from F1’s lesser-known stalwarts

Formula 1
Jan 15, 2022
When BMW added F1 'rocket fuel' to ignite Brabham's 1983 title push Plus

When BMW added F1 'rocket fuel' to ignite Brabham's 1983 title push

There was an ace up the sleeve during the 1983 F1 title-winning season of Nelson Piquet and Brabham. It made a frontrunning car invincible for the last three races to see off Renault's Alain Prost and secure the combination's second world title in three years

Formula 1
Jan 13, 2022
How “abysmal” reliability blunted Brabham’s first winner Plus

How “abysmal” reliability blunted Brabham’s first winner

Brabham’s first world championship race-winning car was held back by unreliable Climax engines – or so its creators believed, as STUART CODLING explains

Formula 1
Jan 10, 2022
The steps Norris took to reach a new level in F1 2021 Plus

The steps Norris took to reach a new level in F1 2021

Lando Norris came of age as a grand prix driver in 2021. McLaren’s young ace is no longer an apprentice or a quietly capable number two – he’s proved himself a potential winner in the top flight and, as STUART CODLING finds out, he’s ready to stake his claim to greatness…

Formula 1
Jan 9, 2022
The original F1 maestro who set the bar for Schumacher and Hamilton Plus

The original F1 maestro who set the bar for Schumacher and Hamilton

Juan Manuel Fangio, peerless on track and charming off it, established the gold standard of grand prix greatness. NIGEL ROEBUCK recalls a remarkable champion

Formula 1
Jan 8, 2022