Hamilton on pole in Brazil, Vettel fourth

Sat Nov 24, 2012 3:41pm EST
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By Alan Baldwin

SAO PAULO (Reuters) - Lewis Hamilton grabbed pole position in Brazil on Saturday for his last race with McLaren while Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel took a big step towards becoming Formula One's youngest triple champion.

Championship leader Vettel will start Sunday's season-ending race in fourth place, a position good enough to secure his third title in a row if he keeps it in what promises to be a rain-lashed affair at Interlagos.

Ferrari's Fernando Alonso, 13 points adrift of Vettel and the German's sole rival, has to finish on the podium to have any hope of taking his third title and the Spaniard has a mountain to climb from seventh on the grid.

Vettel, 25, made clear he would not be playing it safe despite his grid position.

"As soon as the lights go off I will try to attack the guys at the front. On top of that there might be things happening, with the weather forecast being what it is, so I won't be looking left and right to be honest," said the German.

Vettel will have Australian team mate Mark Webber starting alongside him in third place with those positions likely to be swapped soon enough.

Alonso qualified eighth but moved up a place when Venezuelan Pastor Maldonado, who was sixth, was handed a 10-place penalty for missing a weighbridge in the second phase of qualifying.

The stewards handed Maldonado a reprimand for the offence but also imposed the grid drop because it was his third reprimand of the season.   Continued...

(L to R) Red Bull Formula One driver Mark Webber of Australia, McLaren drivers Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button of Britain pose for photos after the qualifying session of the Brazilian F1 Grand Prix at Interlagos circuit in Sao Paulo November 24, 2012. Hamilton took pole position with Button qualifying second and Webber starting on third for Sunday's race. REUTERS/Paulo Whitaker