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McLaren's Lewis Hamilton continued to bid the perfect farewell to his Woking-based team, after the 2008 world champion stormed to pole position in qualifying for the Brazilian Grand Prix, the final race of the 2012 world championship season. It was a fantastic double for the British outfit, after Hamilton's team-mate Jenson Button took second on the grid to secure the fourth qualifying one-two of the season... and the first since the Italian Grand Prix in September. Hamilton finished with a time of 1:12.458 to his team mate's 1:12.513.
Meanwhile, the fight for the 2012 drivers' world championship saw Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel out-qualifying rival Fernando Alonso of Ferrari. The German, the defending champion, took fourth on the grid, behind team-mate Mark Webber, with a time of 1:12.760. Crucially though, he was well ahead of Alonso; the Spaniard could only manage a poor eighth place, with a time of 1:13.253. The Ferrari driver did receive a late boost though, with news of a penalty to Williams' Pastor Maldonado. The 10-place punishment will see Alonso move to seventh on the grid. It may sound only a marginal improvement but this means the Ferrari will now start on the cleaner side of the track, with more grip on offer off the starting line.
Where to Watch Live
Live coverage of the final race of the 2012 Formula 1 world championship starts at 3pm GMT on BBC One and BBC One HD and a half-hour earlier (2.30pm GMT) on Sky Sports F1 HD.
The hour-long qualifying session at the Interlagos circuit in the city of Sao Paulo, Brazil, went horribly wrong for Ferrari. The Italian outfit were hoping for a strong showing and at least a second-row start, to keep the pressure on Vettel and Red Bull. The German leads by 13 points in the drivers' championship, meaning that if he finishes fourth or higher in this race, there is nothing Alonso can do to prevent him from claiming a third straight world championship.
Unfortunately, Ferrari have been off the pace all weekend. Their practice times were poor and local favourite Felipe Massa seemed to have the faster car. The Brazilian starts fifth (1:12.987), also on the clean side of the track, but expect him to move over and allow Alonso to overtake, if the need arises.
Elsewhere on the grid, Sahara Force India's Nico Hulkenberg had a fantastic qualifying, finishing seventh with a time of 1:13.206. The German will now start sixth, though, with the penalty to Maldonado. Behind Hulkenberg and Alonso, ex-Ferrari driver Kimi Raikkonen, the winner at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, qualified in a relatively disappointing ninth (although he too will move up one place on the final grid) after a time of 1:13.298. Mercedes' Nico Rosberg rounded out the ten in qualifying, with 1:13.489. Hulkenberg's team mate, Paul Di Resta, will move into tenth place on the start grid. And Bruno Senna (Williams), Sergio Perez (Sauber), Michael Schumacher (Mercedes), Kamui Kobayashi (Sauber) and Daniel Ricciardo (Toro Rosso) will all move up one place from their qualifying results, to accommodate Maldonado in 16th.
The weather forecast at Interlagos is for rain, which will please Alonso tremendously; the Ferrari is not the fastest car on the grid but the team does tend to make up for that deficiency in changing weather conditions. The car is, perhaps, easier to drive in such cases and the Maranello-based team have a reputation for being able to plan tactics better than their rivals.
The race is set for 2pm (local time), at which point temperatures are likely to be in the low 20s Celsius. Humidity will remain high all through the day - at 81 percent an hour before the race and rising to the mid-90s by the end. The general forecast is for a smattering of rain as early as 1pm, meaning we could be in for a wet start. Rainfall is not expected to be torrential though and will probably make the circuit greasy more than wet.
This is not good news... because apart from making tyre choices very hard (teams have the option of hard or medium, with the intermediates and full wets on-hand if needed) it will also wash away all the rubber from Friday and Saturday. If the start is a wet/greasy one, expect collisions and some very cautious driving in the early laps, as the drivers look for grip and learn the conditions.
The forecast is for between 0.3mm and 1.3mm of rain between early afternoon and the evening. But this is likely to change because South-South Easterly winds of 20km/h to 27km/h are expected in the same period.