Sao Paulo's notoriously fickle weather intervened in what was already destined to be a thriller of a qualifying session at Interlagos today. After an improved performance in qualifying trim during Free Practice 3 this morning, the Marussia F1 Team were on tenterhooks as the heavens open just 15 minutes ahead of the crucial shoot-out then dried in time for pit lane to go Green.
Timo Glock and Charles Pic were amongst the first to venture out on track; the unsettled weather conditions meant a 'banker' lap early on was a wise safety measure. With their first runs completed, the turnaround became a race against time as the track continued to dry and the field were posting rapidly improving lap times.
Timo and Charles enjoyed another fascinating battle with Caterham on their second runs on the Pirelli PZero White Medium tyre, trading places in the timesheets throughout the dying minutes of Q1. In the end, they simply ran out of time to keep demonstrating the comfortable balance they have found with the MR01 ahead of tomorrow's 'Last Samba', which looks set to provide a rather tantalising 2012 season finale.
Timo Glock: "It was quite an unusual qualifying today, but very good fun. In the first couple of laps, when it was very slippery out on track in a couple of corners, I simply made the most of it and was quicker than the guys around me. We came in for a fresh set of tyres, by which time the track was drying out quite a lot. On my second run I struggled with the first couple of laps but my third was good and I got a reasonable lap together. There was only so much we could do versus the cars we are fighting with as their KERS advantage up the hill was obvious, so with that in mind we have to be pleased with how well we performed relative to them. Unfortunately we ran out of time to complete one more lap, which I'm sure would have seen us keep improving. As for tomorrow, bit of an unknown because of the weather and how the car will perform in those conditions. It should be a very exciting day for the fans though."
Charles Pic: "This is another new track for me and I was happy with our pace in FP3 this morning. Unfortunately the track conditions changed a lot for qualifying and the circuit was quite wet in some corners and completely dry in others. This experience was useful and I have learned a lot from it, which will help for the future. For tomorrow the weather looks uncertain so it will be quite challenging."
John Booth, Team Principal: "Both cars progressed well in FP3 this morning and it was pleasing to see that the balance had improved on both cars relative to the rather more difficult handling we experienced yesterday. It was clear that track temperature played a part in this, with the more overcast conditions, and in general both drivers ended FP3 in reasonable shape. The rain 30 minutes before qualifying obviously meant that the team really had to think on their feet and we're happy with the run profile we did in qualifying. Unfortunately, with Timo we missed being able to achieve another lap by a matter of seconds. That said, our positions today are in line with our expectations. The weather forecast for tomorrow is clearly for more rain. Whilst this will make for an interesting and challenging race for the team, I believe that both drivers will very much be in a position to fight for whatever opportunity presents itself."
Check out our Qualifying gallery, here.