Vettel storms to Brazilian GP pole

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Sao Paulo, Brazil ( - Sebastian Vettel from Red Bull grabbed the pole position for the Formula One season-ending Brazilian Grand Prix by winning Saturday's rain-soaked qualifying session.

Vettel, who clinched his fourth successive F1 world championship four weeks ago in India, posted a lap in 1 minute, 26.479 seconds. His time was 0.623 seconds quicker than his closest competitor, Nico Rosberg from Mercedes.

The start of the third and final qualifying segment (Q3) was delayed 40 minutes due to a heavy downpour that occurred at the conclusion of Q2. Race officials determined the amount of water on the 2.7-mile, 15-turn Interlagos circuit was unsafe for driving at the time Q3 had been scheduled to begin.

"There was a lot of rain after Q2, and we needed to wait," Vettel said. "If there's too much water, it's a shame for the people who wait for us to come out, but there's too much water, and the risk of aquaplaning is too high. So it took a long time and then got out.

"I was surprised by how much of the water had gone. I went straight on intermediate (tires) and was able to get a very, very good lap in straight away. Tried again in the second to beat that. It was very close. So with both my laps, I was very happy. Surprised by the margin."

Vettel claimed his ninth pole of the season and the 45th of his F1 career. Last weekend, he started on the pole and won the United States Grand Prix in Austin, Texas, scoring his record eighth consecutive victory this season.

If Vettel takes the checkered flag in Sunday's 71-lap Brazilian GP, he will tie Alberto Ascari's 50-year-old record of nine victories in a row, which he set from the tail end of the 1952 season through the early part of 1953. Vettel would also match Michael Schumacher's record of 13 wins in a season, set in 2004.

Rosberg will start alongside his fellow German compatriot Vettel on the front row. It's the seventh time this season that Rosberg will roll off from row one.

"It was a good day today," Rosberg said. "Everything went to plan. It's always extremely tough in these conditions, because it's just all over the place and you need to make sure you don't get caught out. But the whole team, we all did a good job and perfect strategy also in the end doing those two consecutive laps with the intermediates."

Fernando Alonso from Ferrari qualified third, while Vettel's Red Bull teammate, Mark Webber, who is competing in his final F1 grand prix, took the fourth spot. Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton placed his Mercedes fifth on the grid.

"We are where we deserved to be I think, as I didn't feel that quick in qualifying," Webber said. "The car felt slow, and I was struggling for grip. It was tricky for all of us, but we're on the second row, and we can still do something from there."

Lotus' Romain Grosjean was sixth, followed by Toro Rosso drivers Daniel Ricciardo and Jean-Eric Vergne. Brazilian Felipe Massa qualified ninth in front of his home crowd. Massa is making his last start with Ferrari before he moves over to Williams for the 2014 season.

Nico Hulkenberg from Sauber completed the top-10. McLaren driver and last year's Brazilian GP winner Jenson Button failed to advance into Q3. Button will start 15th.