SAO PAULO (AP) — Nico Rosberg won his fifth straight pole position for Sunday’s Brazilian Grand Prix, edging out Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton. Hamilton hasn’t taken pole since the Italian GP at Monza in early September.
So is the Englishman concerned?“No,” he insisted. “My main job is done this year.”Good point. Hamilton has already won the season title — his second straight championship and third overall — and Mercedes has the constructors’ title.
“I have the most poles of the year and I won the world championship, so there’s nothing really to read into this,” Hamilton said Saturday.
“You don’t always get it right. You can’t get it perfect every single time.”
Rosberg is hoping to nail down second place in the season standings in Brazil. And by improving his qualifying, he’s signaled he’ll put even more pressure on his teammate next season.
“It (qualifying) is an area that I had to work on, so I have been working on it through the season,” Rosberg said.
“But I don’t have a direct explanation, a precise thing I’ve done different.”
Qualifying was essentially a replay of the three practice sessions in Brazil in which the two Mercedes drivers alternated being the quickest — as they have been all season.
Saturday’s session was run before a sparse crowd, kept down partly because there is little left to be decided in the penultimate race of the Formula One season.
Formula One has also been hurt by a steep recession in Brazil and the fact that neither of the two Brazilian drivers in the field — Felipe Massa and Felipe Nasr — are title contenders.
Massa, for one, has urged Brazil’s dominant broadcaster Globo to step up coverage instead of moving races to its cable channel.
“What Globo covers is what Brazilians see the most,” he said earlier in the week.
“It is the No. 1 broadcaster here, and the more help we have from them, the better.”
Hamilton has been dominant this year, winning 10 of 17 races. A victory Sunday would match his 2014 total with one race remaining after Brazil — the Abu Dhabi GP on Nov. 29.Michael Schumacher won 13 of 18 races in 2004, and Sebastian Vettel took 13 of 19 in 2013.Rosberg clocked 1 minute 11.282 seconds, and Hamilton was next in 1:11.360.
Vettel of Ferrari turned a time of 1:11.840 for third and Valtteri Bottas of Williams was fourth.
Host venue Interlagos, located about 25 kilometers (15 miles) from the center of Sao Paulo, is famous for its wet weather.Part of Friday’s practice was run in light rain, but qualifying was on a hot, dry track. Sunday’s forecast shows a slight chance of showers.
“Tomorrow could be an interesting one,” Vettel said.
“We saw yesterday a lot of people sliding, including ourselves. Crazy things happen.”