Australian Formula One driver Daniel Ricciardo will start from ninth on the grid for the Brazilian Grand Prix behind dominant Mercedes pair Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton.
Red Bull’s Ricciardo was disappointed to qualify so far back, but remained optimistic ahead of Sunday’s (Monday AEDT) race.
“We should have finished better than ninth, we hoped to be in the top five after the pace we had in practice, but hopefully the car will be better in the race,” Ricciardo said.
Rosberg was reluctant to celebrate his success after he drove with flawless precision to outpace Hamilton and claim pole position.
Instead, as he reflected on his 10th pole of the season and 14th of his career, he pointed out that even if he had won a prize – the Pole Position Trophy as best qualifier of the year – he had not won any points.
Those, he said, are only won on Sunday when he aims to win the 71-lap race and keep alive his hopes of winning the drivers’ championship.
Rosberg may also have been mindful of his record this year that showed he had only converted two of his previous nine pole positions into victory, while Hamilton had turned six of his seven poles into a win.
The 29-year-old German currently trails Hamilton by 24 points with two races remaining, including the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix where double points are scored.
“It’s the perfect job only if it works out tomorrow,” said Rosberg on Saturday.
“I have learned from Austin (where he started on pole last weekend but was beaten on race day by Hamilton), I know what I need to do better so from that point of view, I look forward to tomorrow.”
Hamilton, winner of the past five races, was full of praise for his teammate and the way in which the session unfolded.
“It’s a long race tomorrow and it should be really exciting with all the pit stops. I want to win as much as anyone else,” Hamilton said.
Rosberg secured pole by the narrowest of margins when in a tense session, both men broke the Interlagos qualifying record several times as Rosberg finally topped the times with a best lap in one minute and 10.023 seconds.
This was just 0.033 seconds faster than Hamilton’s best lap and enabled him to complete a clean sweep, having topped the times in all three practice sessions.
The previous best qualifying lap at Interlagos was set by Brazilian Rubens Barrichello who clocked 1:10.646 in 2004 for Ferrari.
The Mercedes pair’s seventh successive front row lockout enabled the team to equal the Williams team’s 1993 record of 28 front row starts from Damon Hill and Alain Prost.
Brazilian Felipe Massa was third fastest for Williams and greeted by a standing ovation from the fanatical Interlagos crowd. His Williams teammate Valtteri Bottas was fourth quickest.
Jenson Button, without a confirmed drive in Formula One next year, proved his enduring talent by qualifying fifth for McLaren ahead of four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel of Red Bull.
STARTING GRID TOP 10 FOR BRAZILIAN GP
1. Nico Rosberg (GER/MER)
2. Lewis Hamilton (ENG/MER)
3. Felipe Massa (BRA/WIL)
4. Valtteri Bottas (FIN/WIL)
5. Jenson Button (ENG/MLA)
6. Sebastian Vettel (GER/RBR)
7. Kevin Magnussen (DEN/MLA)
8. Fernando Alonso (ESP/FER)
9. Daniel Ricciardo (AUS/RBR)
10. Kimi Raikkonen (FIN/FER)