Grosjean set the 12th-fastest time in Q1 with a lap of 1:12.893 and Gutiérrez was 14th quickest with a lap of 1:13.052. Only the top-16 drivers move on to Q2, and for the 15th time in its debut season, Haas F1 Team advanced both its pilots to the second round of knockout qualifying.
In Q2, Grosjean earned the ninth-fastest time with a lap of 1:12.343 and Gutiérrez was 12th quickest with a lap of 1:12.431. Only the top-10 drivers from Q2 move on to Q3, and this marked Grosjean’s second trip to Q3 this season, the previous of which came three races ago in Japan.
Grosjean acquitted himself well in the final round of qualifying, setting the seventh-quickest time with a 1:11.937 to equal his best starting spot of the season – seventh at Japan.
Both Grosjean and Gutiérrez ran exclusively on the Pirelli P Zero Yellow soft tire throughout qualifying.
Taking the pole for the Brazilian Grand Prix was Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton. His fast lap of 1:10.736 was .102 of a second better than his nearest pursuer, teammate and championship leader Nico Rosberg. It was Hamilton’s milestone 60th career Formula One pole, his 11th of the season and third in a row, and his second at the Autódromo José Carlos Pace. Even with Hamilton on the pole, Rosberg remains in the driver’s seat in the championship standings. He holds a 19-point advantage over Hamilton heading into Sunday’s race.
Before Grosjean, Gutiérrez and the rest of their Formula One counterparts participated in qualifying, they had one final practice (FP3) to dial in their racecars for a quick lap around the track. Weather was a factor, however, as the sunshine and heat from Friday’s two practice sessions were replaced by cloudy and cooler conditions that produced some light rain just prior to the hour-long affair.
Grosjean and Gutiérrez took to the track with Pirelli Cinturato Blue wet tires affixed to their respective racecars, but as the track quickly dried, both were able to switch to the Yellow soft compounds – the preferred tire of choice for qualifying. Each made seven laps before switching to another set of Yellow softs, and it was during this second stint that both drivers earned their fastest laps in FP3.
Grosjean set the 15th-fastest time with a 1:13.344 on the 11th of the 15 laps he recorded. Gutiérrez tallied 16 laps and secured his best time on his 12th lap – a 1:13.596 that put him just behind his teammate in 16th.
Quickest in FP3 was Rosberg, whose fast lap of 1:11.740 was .093 of a second better than Hamilton.
Romain Grosjean, Driver No. 8, Haas F1 Team
“It’s good to be back in Q3, especially after the last two races where we were out in Q1 and really struggling. Here we’ve been trying some new brakes, focusing on making them work as well as we could. The feeling was good right from the beginning and the cooler track conditions today really helped us a lot. There are still plenty of margins to improve for the future. We’re always learning more about what we need to do, but we really weren’t expecting to be in Q3 today. Generally though, when we do get things working well together, we’re quite fast, which is encouraging.”
Esteban Gutiérrez, Driver No. 21, Haas F1 Team
“It’s been quite a competitive qualifying session with the lap times being very close. We just missed out on Q3, but it’s great that our performance is back after two weekends where we were struggling. We can now be optimistic for the race tomorrow. I’ll be aiming for the points. We’re aware of what we need to do and that’s what I’ll be targeting.”
Guenther Steiner, Team Principal, Haas F1 Team
“We did a good job in FP3 to end up with a car that worked well for both drivers in qualifying. We seem to have ups and downs, but we always come back out on top. Last race weekend we were out in Q1 and now we’re in Q3 with one car and the other finishing 12th. Achieving our best result in qualifying with seventh place for Romain – it’s thanks to a lot of effort from the whole team. Starting in seventh and 12th, our aim will be for a points finish. It’s difficult to attain here, but it won’t be from a lack of trying.”