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As it happened: Qualifying
By Geoff Creighton and Emlyn Hughes
The live commentary has ended. No further updates will be posted.
Button15:50 Hello everyone and welcome back to AUTOSPORT Live for coverage and rolling updates from the final round of the FIA Formula 1 world championship - the Brazilian Grand Prix from Interlagos.

Jenson Button made it a hattrick of practice sessions for McLaren this weekend by topping this morning's final session with a lap of 1m13.188s. The Briton edged out championship leader Sebastian Vettel by 0.057s, with Mark Webber third and Friday pacesetter Lewis Hamilton in fourth spot.

Button keeps McLaren on top in final Brazil practice

It is now or never as far as the grid is concerned for Fernando Alonso, but his final practice performance will not instill confidence from the tifosi. The Spaniard only managed eighth position on the timesheet and was left 0.503s off the leading pace.

So, we head into this vital knockout session with Vettel sitting pretty and his rival needing to pull a special lap out of the bag to get close. It should be a fascinating hour of action to determine the grid for tomorrow's title decider.

15:52 Showers arrived about 20 minutes ago and the circuit is damp as we head into the most important qualifying session of the season.

A tense and exciting hour coming up then. Further showers are moving into the region and there could be more sprinkles before the end of Q3.

Air temperature has peaked at 28 degrees Celsius and a light-to-moderate breeze is blowing from the north-west.

15:54 One final look at the qualifying battle ahead of the final grid decider for 2012:
Qualifying head-to-head

Vettel        11 - 8     Webber
Button         4 - 15    Hamilton
Alonso        17 - 2     Massa
Schumacher    10 - 9     Rosberg
Raikkonen      9 - 10    Grosjean / D'Ambrosio
Di Resta       8 - 11    Hulkenberg
Kobayashi     10 - 9     Perez
Ricciardo     15 - 4     Vergne
Maldonado     17 - 2     Senna
Kovalainen    14 - 5     Petrov
De la Rosa    18 - 1     Karthikeyan
Glock         12 - 6     Pic
15:54 Raikkonen's Lotus has been reassembled following an engine failure in final practice. No penalty for taking another motor from his used set.

15:54 But after ignition coil dramas in practice yesterday and the blown Renault this morning, Raikkonen has lost a lot of preparation time.

Alonso15:56 Medium and hard are the slicks of choice from Pirelli here, but all eyes are on the skies as the threatened rain finally arrives at Interlagos.

Showers are set to continue throughout the afternoon, with more rain expected in the latter stages of the session. This is the ultimate test of skill for drivers and race engineers, with the mantra of being on the right tyres at the right time key to winning a qualifying lottery.

A drying early period could still give the chance to run on slicks, with the medium compound providing a significant speed boost over one lap compared to the harder rubber.

15:58 The track is drying quickly after that earlier shower thanks to the warm ambient temperature.

15:58 Nico Rosberg is having a minor issue resolved in the cockpit, as he puts his helmet on ahead of the green light.

15:59 Kovalainen is ready to go at the end of the pitlane with slicks on his Caterham. He is warned that conditions could worsen if it rains again

0 min: Qualifying is underway at Interlagos.

0 min: Meteo France tells the teams that there is no rain currently on the path to reach the circuit.

0 min: Kovalainen takes the green light and heads out with the regular flock of Q1 eliminees.

0 min: De la Rosa and Karthikeyan head out in the tricky track conditions.

0 min: Having cooled his tyres waiting at the end of the pits, Kovalainen finds things are pretty slippery at the end of the back straight.

1 min: Rosberg is also out there for an early run.

2 min: Plenty of water on the run up the hill from Juncao and that looks a tricky proposition on slick rubber.

2 min: The circuit is holding more water through Juncao and up the hill through Subida dos Boxes. Drivers now into their first timed lap.

2 min: Into flying laps now and there's plenty of sliding going on.

2 min: Ricciardo and Vergne join the circuit for Toro Rosso. No move from the top teams just yet.

3 min: Glock looks to have more grip than Kovalainen at the moment and the pair go wheel-to-wheel up the hill.

3 min: Glock takes the early spoils with a 1m30.090s as the Caterham vs Marussia rivalry continues.

3 min: Karthikeyan posts 1m35.689s and moves into fifth position, with de la Rosa the only other driver to have set a time so far.

4 min: Kobayashi is next to top the early times with a 1m24.957s in his Sauber.

4 min: Rosberg has decided that conditions are a little too damp for now and aborted his attempt. He is back in the pits.

4 min: Vergne moves into third spot with a time of 1m27.609s.

4 min: Glock is now second fastest to Kobayashi, with Petrov third and Kovalainen fourth.

5 min: Still very tricky out of Juncao and up the hill, but the downforce does pile on as speed builds.

5 min: Hulkenberg and Maldonado join the circuit, with no move from the leading teams, as they continue to watch the weather.

6 min: Leading outfits putting plenty of faith in the radar, which suggests no further rain for the moment.

6 min: Vergne comes round for a second timed lap and tops the order with 1m22.355s.

7 min: With a limited allocation of wet rubber and plenty of uncertainty about tomorrow's forecast, teams will not want to waste intermediates.

7 min: Di Resta and Senna head out, as Hulkenberg begins a timed lap on intermediate tyres.

7 min: But Hulkenberg is struggling for grip and slides wide at Turn 4 and recovers via the painted run-off area.

8 min: Kobayashi takes over at the top again with a new best of 1m20.494s.

8 min: Vergne comes round and takes over from Kobayashi at the front, with a time of 1m20.494s.

9 min: Maldonado now moves to the head of the list with a lap of 1m18.709s.

9 min: Big guns beginning to fire now as teams finally end the gamble over it not getting any worse.

9 min: Di Resta has posted 1m20.127s and he is fourth in the Force India.

10 min: Vettel and Webber have joined the track. The championship leader is out there on hard compound tyres.

11 min: Perez is not happy in his Sauber after being passed by Karthikeyan on track. He has pitted.

11 min: Senna moves ahead of Maldonado and we have a Williams one-two for now - 1m17.803s for the Brazilian.

11 min: Hard tyres the choice of the leading drivers, with Raikkonen opting for the medium to try and make up for lost practice time.

11 min: Webber is also out there on hard tyres. He comes round in 1m20.076s and goes fifth.

12 min: Hamilton springs to the top of the times with a 1m17.772s lap in his McLaren.

12 min: Vettel completes his first effort and moves into 13th after a building lap of 1m21.038s.

12 min: Conditions improving for the moment, with teams setting up for long runs to the end of the segment.

13 min: Rosberg, Hulkenberg and Schumacher are now into their first timed lap.

13 min: Alonso takes away the leading time in 1m17.346s but Hamilton quickly takes that back, fractions quicker.

14 min: Massa is now up to third fastest in his Ferrari.

14 min: Vettel moves up the order to seventh place with a time of 1m18.264s.

14 min: Hulkenberg goes fourth in the Force India with 1m17.739s.

14 min: Hamilton is told of his leading time and asked to keep the pace up so the tyres remain in the temperature window.

14 min: Button comes around fourth fastest in 1m17.612s but is then pipped by Grosjean.

15 min: Webber finishes another lap and he is ninth with 1m17.946s, as Vettel slides down the order to 14th.

15 min: Perez takes medium compound tyres to the top of the list for a new best of 1m16.941s.

15 min: Rosberg is now top of the tree with a lap of 1m16.924s and all 24 drivers have posted a time.

15 min: Di Resta takes the top position away from Rosberg with 1m16.621s.

15 min: Kobayashi is now second fastest on the medium compound.

16 min: Webber comes round again and moves into fifth with 1m16.890s.

16 min: Alonso responds with the benchmark on hard rubber, before it is taken by Hamilton in 1m16.147s.

16 min: Vettel crosses the start-finish line and is up to 10th with a time of 1m17.341s.

17 min: Kovalainen has been for a spin on the run up the hill.

17 min: Ricciardo moves out of the dropzone and into 12th with a time of 1m17.247s.

18 min: Vettel has slipped down again to 13th spot, but he comes round in 1m16.046s and moves up to second, behind new pacesetter Senna.

18 min: Meanwhile, Grosjean has been involved in a misunderstanding with de la Rosa over the pit entry and the contact has smashed his front wing.

18 min: Grosjean pits for a new nose and resumes down in a dangerous 17th place.

18 min: Hamilton comes through in 1m15.551s to top the times again.

18 min: Kovalainen is 18th with Maldonado, Petrov, Glock, Karthikeyan, Pic and de la Rosa also in the dropzone.

19 min: Laptimes continue to improve with grip evolving by the lap.

19 min: Maldonado has backed off this time round and will have one final attempt at a lap time.

19 min: Raikkonen has slipped to 15th as both Lotus drivers face a worrying final minute.

20 min: Flag out but every car on track as the laps continue.

16:20 Schumacher is down in 16th place but on a better lap this time round.

16:20 Meanwhile, Hamilton is still setting the pace up front, now over half a second faster than Vettel.

16:20 Schumacher moves up to safety and sixth position, with 1m16.005s.

16:21 Grosjean has now slipped to 20th and needs speed on this lap... he goes 17th but that's still risky.

16:21 Maldonado jumps up to 11th place with 1m16.266s and he is safe.

16:21 Grosjean is pushed out of the top 17 by late improvement and it's game over for the Lotus man.

16:22 Grosjean will be left ruing that contact with de la Rosa's HRT, who he presumably thought was moving to let him past.

16:22 "I don't know what to say," reckons Grosjean as he trundles back to the Lotus garage.

16:23 The first period of qualifying has been completed and these seven drivers are eliminated:

18) Grosjean 1m16.967s
19) Petrov 1m17.073s
20) Kovalainen 1m17.086s
21) Glock 1m17.508s
22) Pic 1m18.104s
23) Karthikeyan 1m19.576s
24) de la Rosa 1m19.699s.

16:24 Rosberg was looking vulnerable in the dying moments, but the German was able to move up with his final lap to seventh spot.

16:24 Petrov comes out on top of the Caterham battle with Kovalainen as the pair end up ahead in the developing squabble with Marussia.

16:25 The radar is showing no showers in the area and it should remain dry until the end of the session.

16:26 Up front, Hamilton topped the session on hard tyres, finding plenty of grip as the track dried.

0 min: Q2 begins in Brazil.

0 min: The remaining 17 drivers that have progressed now face the next challenge. They have 15 minutes to try and make the top 10 shootout.

0 min: Hulkenberg and Vergne are straight out onto the circuit.

0 min: That clash between Grosjean and de la Rosa will be investigated by stewards after qualifying.

1 min: Schumacher, Rosberg and Ricciardo join the racetrack to get a time on the board quickly.

1 min: Both Ferraris are quickly on track.

2 min: Hard tyres for the Ferrari pair at the moment, looking to bank a time.

2 min: The early runners are into a timed lap, but no move from the Red Bull pair just yet.

3 min: Hulkenberg gets the ball rolling with a lap of 1m14.810s.

3 min: The track continues to dry up as Alonso clocks 1m14.631s on hard rubber.

3 min: Schumacher's first effort is 1m15.145s and that gives him fourth.

4 min: Di Resta moves into fifth spot with 1m15.253s.

4 min: Still no move at McLaren, with the team clearly confident in the forecast of no further rain.

5 min: So it's Alonso at the front with Hulkenberg second, Perez third, Massa fourth, Schumacher fifth and di Resta in sixth spot.

5 min: Senna is seventh in the Williams, ahead of Rosberg eighth, Kobayashi ninth and Ricciardo rounding out the top 10.

6 min: Alonso finds an improvement in 1m14.288s to further improve the leading time.

6 min: Maldonado is now on his first timed lap, but the Red Bull pair remain in the garage.

6 min: Massa tops the first sector and ends the lap just a couple of tenths down on Alonso in second fastest at the moment.

7 min: Alonso pits and will likely ponder a move to fresh medium compound tyres.

7 min: Senna completes another lap and the Brazilian goes fourth with 1m14.672s. Could he make the shootout at home?

7 min: Hamilton sets off on the softer tyres and has been on strong form so far this weekend.

8 min: Maldonado posted a slow lap of 1m19.003s and has since returned to the pitlane.

8 min: Tyre covers off at Red Bull and Webber heads out with a set of medium tyres on the RB8.

9 min: Vettel similarly leaves the pits with a set of the faster tyres bolted onto his car.

9 min: Vettel is advised by his race engineer that it will be four timed laps for this run.

10 min: Alonso is underway again after switching to medium compound.

10 min: Hamilton is immediately fastest in the first sector but gets a bit of a wobble on through Turn 9.

10 min: Button is the last to blink as he finally sets off in his McLaren.

11 min: Hamilton clocks 1m13.398s to comfortably top the times.

11 min: Webber comes through and his first effort is 1m13.883s. He moves into second spot, behind Hamilton.

11 min: Vettel clocks 1m13.209s and he tops the order.

12 min: Ricciardo moves up the list to seventh spot in the Toro Rosso with 1m14.574s.

12 min: Lock-up for Alonso as he struggles on the mediums while team-mate Vettel gives a tow to Vettel. That's fifth for Alonso.

13 min: Rosberg rockets up the order to fourth, but then Maldonado takes it from him with a time of 1m13.698s, but only briefly.

13 min: Button joins the scrap in third place, with Raikkonen up to fourth after getting back on track in his Lotus.

13 min: Senna is 11th and in the dropzone, followed by Massa, Schumacher, Perez, Ricciardo, Vergne and Kobayashi.

13 min: Alonso has slipped to eighth and needs more speed, as does Massa - now 12th.

14 min: Hamilton tries again on mediums but it looks like the pace is gone from the rubber.

14 min: Webber had slipped down to seventh, but he recovers to fourth quickest with a time of 1m13.667s.

14 min: Vettel has returned to the pits, satisfied that he has done enough.

14 min: That's bad news for those outside the cut, with engineers having hoped the laptimes would keep improving on long runs.

15 min: Flag out but this could be big...

16:42 Alonso comes around and fails to improve from eighth. Worrying times for the championship contender.

16:42 It's the final lap for Schumacher and he comes through only in 14th position. He is eliminated.

16:43 Massa saves his bacon for now but it's only a dangerous tenth...

16:43 That knocks out di Resta, who was on the bubble in 10th for the last two minutes.

16:43 A close shave for Ferrari there, with Alonso and Massa scraping through in ninth and 10th.

16:45 Not a good day for Sauber with Perez 13th and Kobayashi 15th.

16:45 The second period of qualifying has been completed and these seven drivers are eliminated:

11) di Resta 1m14.121s
12) Senna 1m14.219s
13) Perez 1m14.234s
14) Schumacher 1m14.334s
15) Kobayashi 1m14.380s
16) Ricciardo 1m14.574s
17) Vergne 1m14.619s.

16:46 Further replays show that as Maldonado came into the pits at the end of his first run in Q2, he missed the red light at the FIA weigh bridge.

16:46 That is likely to earn the Venezuelan a sit down over a coffee with the stewards later on.

16:46 Up front, things still look tight between McLaren and Red Bull with it all to play for in the battle over the front two rows.

16:48 Schumacher will start his final grand prix from 14th on the grid. Rosberg made it through in eighth spot, some half-a-second quicker.

16:48 Hamilton, who is the only man to make Q3 at all 20 races this year, will want to secure pole on his final outing at McLaren.

16:49 So here are the 10 drivers that have made it through to the all-important shootout:

Sebastian Vettel
Mark Webber
Jenson Button
Lewis Hamilton
Fernando Alonso
Felipe Massa
Nico Rosberg
Kimi Raikkonen
Nico Hulkenberg
Pastor Maldonado.

0 min: The battle for pole is underway at sunny Interlagos.

0 min: Rosberg is the first driver onto the circuit, with track temperature now up to 34 degrees Celsius.

1 min: Rosberg crosses start-finish and begins the first timed lap.

1 min: Hamilton sets off for a first attempt in the McLaren, while Alonso is underway as well.

2 min: Alonso doesn't appear to have the speed to fight for pole today, but may have gambled on a setup that could help if it rains tomorrow.

2 min: Webber joins the racetrack and Vettel is rolling out as well.

3 min: Hamilton is unsurprisingly quick in the first part of the lap.

3 min: Rosberg posts a slow 1m22.398s as he works on building temperature into his tyres.

3 min: Hamilton clocks a rapid 1m12.850s to set the time to beat.

4 min: Vettel is now starting his first timed lap, while Webber is nearing the end of his.

4 min: Alonso comes around in 1m13.463s, over six tenths off Hamilton's current benchmark.

4 min: Webber comes through in 1m13.070s and goes second behind Hamilton.

4 min: Massa clocks 1m13.258s to slot in ahead of team-mate Alonso.

5 min: Button slots in second fastest to his team-mate with a 1m12.980s.

5 min: Vettel has lost some time in the second sector and will not challenge for the top positions this time.

5 min: Vettel finishes the lap and goes sixth with 1m13.903s.

6 min: So it's a McLaren one-two after the opening salvo as the pair return to the pits to prepare for another attempt.

6 min: Vettel has backed off so he will come in at the end of the lap, leaving him just one last chance to challenge for for front row.

6 min: Replays show that Vettel ran wide and onto the painted asphalt at Turn 4, denting his progress.

7 min: Maldonado left the pits, but came straight back in again - no time set.

7 min: Hulkenberg comes round to complete his first timed lap. He goes fourth with 1m13.206s, dropping Vettel to seventh.

7 min: Alonso heads out again and this needs to be a great lap from the Spaniard.

8 min: So it's Hamilton leading the group with Button second, Webber third, Hulkenberg fourth, Massa fifth and Alonso in sixth spot.

8 min: Hamilton and Button resume as well, beating Vettel out of the pitlane.

8 min: Vettel is seventh. He has returned for a fresh set of tyres and is back out again.

8 min: Raikkonen splits the Ferrari pair as he goes sixth in the Lotus.

8 min: All 10 drivers are now on the racetrack.

9 min: Webber is one-tenth up on Hamilton's benchmark at the end of the first sector.

9 min: Webber is fastest of all in sector two as well.

9 min: The flag is out on the final qualifying segment of the season but the last times are still to come...

17:00 Webber takes the top spot with a time of 1m12.581s. What can McLaren do?

17:00 Hamilton and Button trade fastest sectors as they respond to the move from Webber.

17:00 Maldonado moves into fourth spot with a time of 1m13.174s.

17:00 Alonso takes fifth for the moment but that could drop down the order.

17:01 1m12.458s for Hamilton as he grabs first place back from Webber.

17:01 Lewis Hamilton secures pole for the Brazilian Grand Prix!

17:01 Vettel is on his final attempt. Here he comes... Fourth for Vettel with a time of 1m12.760s.

17:01 Button comes around just fractions off his team-mate to cement the front row for McLaren.

17:02 Alonso is shuffled down to eighth place, with Massa up in fifth. Not a great result for Ferrari.

17:02 So Hamilton takes a wonderful pole with a time of 1m12.458s, ahead of McLaren team-mate Button. Webber is third and Vettel fourth.

17:03 Massa is fifth in the leading Ferrari, with Maldonado a solid sixth. Hulkenberg also pulled out a good lap for seventh.

17:03 Alonso finishes in the same position as morning practice - eighth. The Spaniard has an enormous amount of work to do tomorrow.

17:04 Raikkonen is ninth and Rosberg rounds out the top 10 at the end of a pulsating qualifying session.

17:04 We have McLarens up front, Red Bulls behind and Alonso chasing. Join us tomorrow for the title-deciding Brazilian Grand Prix.

Session length: 60 minutes
Overcast High Temp: 22°C / 72°F
Track: Dry
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Friday 23 Nov Start GMT
 Friday practice one 11:55
 Friday practice two 15:55
Saturday 24 Nov
 Saturday practice 12:55
 Qualifying 15:50
Sunday 25 Nov
 The Brazilian Grand Prix 15:45