Fernando Alonso said he was not too disappointed to only be fifth on the Interlagos grid, as he feared the result could have been much worse given the unpredictable conditions.
With the track starting off damp but drying rapidly, the end of Q3 saw the top 10 drivers dive in for slick tires and change positions repeatedly. As Nico Hulkenberg took a sensational pole for Williams, Ferrari driver Alonso briefly held second but was pushed back to fifth, behind title rivals Sebastian Vettel, Mark Webber and Lewis Hamilton.
"Well, in a qualifying like this, wet, dry, you never make any predictions or have any expectations. I think you do the best [you can]," Alonso told television reporters. "It was a difficult time for us in Q2, I think I was eighth and Felipe [Massa] was 10th. We were struggling a bit with the intermediate tires. Then with the dry tires it was a tricky circuit to play. At the end, fifth is obviously not pole position, but we saved one tricky qualifying."
He said his priority for tomorrow – a race that could see him crowned as World Champion for a third time – was just to maintain his current 11-point cushion over nearest rival Webber.
"I know that there are some strange results that can give me the championship but for us the main priority is to increase the gap to the second guy," said Alonso. "Now it's 11 points to Mark, if we can finish tomorrow afternoon with more than those 11 points, it will be great. If we have to give some points [away], hopefully it's not too many."