SAO PAULO — Sebastian Vettel was fastest on a wet and treacherous Interlagos track Saturday, taking the pole position for the season-ending Brazilian Grand Prix.
The German, who has already wrapped up a fourth consecutive Formula One title, can equal Michael Schumacher’s 2004 mark of 13 victories in a year and match the record of nine consecutive wins by Alberto Ascari in 1952-53.
The Red Bull driver was more than a half second ahead of Nico Rosberg, of Mercedes, in a rain-delayed qualifying session.
“It’s great to start from pole,” Vettel said. “Very happy with the laps I had in the end in these tricky conditions. Hopefully we can carry that momentum into the race.”
Fernando Alonso, of Ferrari, finished third. Vettel’s teammate, Mark Webber, who is leaving F1 after today’s race, will start fourth. Lewis Hamilton, of Mercedes, is fifth.
It was Vettel’s ninth pole of the year and 45th of his career. His margin over the rest of the field reflected his dominance this season.
“It’s great in these conditions to get it all right,” he said. “We had very little practice and still got the car where we wanted it to be in the end, so very happy.”
Rosberg, who had led both practices Friday, said there was nothing he could have done to catch his countryman.
“Surprised about the gap to Sebastian, that’s very big,” Rosberg said. “Definitely it would have been difficult, even getting everything perfect, to come close to him.”
It will be the last race before F1 adopts new engine rules that are expected to revamp the series next year. The Brazilian GP also marks the last race before driver changes at some of F1’s top teams.
World champion Kimi Raikkonen, of Finland, is leaving Lotus to replace Felipe Massa, who is taking over the seat of Venezuelan Pastor Maldonado at Williams. McLaren is replacing Perez with rookie Kevin Magnussen, of Denmark.
Australian Daniel Ricciardo, from Red Bull’s sister team, Toro Rosso, will fill Webber’s seat.