Red Bull’s double Formula One world champion Sebastian Vettel roared to a record 15th pole position of the season at the Brazilian Grand Prix on Saturday.
The 24-year-old German, who had equalled Nigel Mansell’s 1992 record of 14 in a single season at the previous race in Abu Dhabi, led Australian team mate Mark Webber in a front row sweep for the champions.
“Yes Baby, We’ve got it. This feels incredible” he yelled over the team radio on his slowing down lap after a dry qualifying session despite the threat of rain.
“I was very emotional when I crossed the line because I knew this was all I had, I gave it all.
“It’s really special, different to the other poles,” added Vettel, who wrapped up his second title last month with four races to spare, of his 30th career pole.
Vettel was the only driver to lap inside one minute and 12 seconds, with a best lap of 1:11.918 compared to Webber’s 1:12.099.
“Obviously it took the master in that discipline, Nigel Mansell, a couple of races less,” added Vettel, mindful of the fact that Britain’s 1992 champion took his 15 poles in a season of just 16 races rather than 19.
“I tried to help old Nigel out today,” grinned Webber, who has yet to win a race this year despite setting more fastest laps than anyone.
He still fancied his chances in Sunday’s season-ender, however, mindful perhaps that only twice in the past 10 years has the winner started on pole at Interlagos.
“Seb did a good lap as usual but my lap was pretty good as well to be honest.”
McLaren’s Jenson Button will start in third place, next to fellow-Briton and team mate Lewis Hamilton, after his best qualifying performance at Interlagos in six years.
“Hopefully we can get these two tomorrow,” said Button, who won his 2009 title at Sao Paulo’s ramshackle but hugely atmospheric circuit.
“A big thanks to the team today. I want to say a big thank you to them for the whole season,” said Button, adding with a smile that he was just saying that now in case something prevented him racing on Sunday.
The Englishman escaped unhurt from an attempted attack by armed robbers as he was being driven away from the circuit last year after qualifying.
Vettel’s pole meant Red Bull closed out the season with a record 18 poles in 19 races with Hamilton, the 2008 champion, the only driver apart from the German and Webber to start from the top slot this year.
Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso, Button’s main rival for second place overall in the championship, qualified fifth with Germany’s Nico Rosberg sixth for Mercedes.
Brazilian Felipe Massa, twice a winner at Interlagos, will start his 100th race for Ferrari in seventh place as the best of the three home drivers.
Bruno Senna put his Renault a strong ninth on the grid while veteran Rubens Barrichello, in what could be his last race after competing in more than anyone else in Formula One history, qualified 12th for Williams.
A smiling Barrichello gave a thumbs-up for the cameras as he removed his helmet.
Brazilian Grand Prix grid
Sebastian Vettel (GER/Red Bull-Renault)
Mark Webber (AUS/Red Bull-Renault)
Jenson Button (GBR/McLaren-Mercedes)
Lewis Hamilton (GBR/McLaren-Mercedes)
Fernando Alonso (ESP/Ferrari)
Nico Rosberg (GER/Mercedes)
Felipe Massa (BRA/Ferrari)
Adrian Sutil (GER/Force India-Mercedes)
Bruno Senna (BRA/Lotus-Renault)
Michael Schumacher (GER/Mercedes)
Paul di Resta (SCO/Force India-Mercedes)
Rubens Barrichello (BRA/Williams-Cosworth)
Jaime Alguersuari (ESP/Toro Rosso-Ferrari)
Sébastien Buemi (SUI/Toro Rosso-Ferrari)
Vitaly Petrov (RUS/Lotus-Renault)
Kamui Kobayashi (JPN/Sauber-Ferrari)
Sergio Perez (MEX/Sauber-Ferrari)
Pastor Maldonado (VEN/Williams-Cosworth)
Heikki Kovalainen (FIN/Team Lotus)
Jarno Trulli (ITA/Team Lotus)
Vitantonio Liuzzi (ITA/Hispania-Cosworth)
Daniel Ricciardo (AUS/Hispania-Cosworth)
Jérôme d’Ambrosio (BEL/Virgin-Cosworth)
Timo Glock (GER/Virgin-Cosworth)