Nico Rosberg stormed to a fifth consecutive pole position as he defeated team-mate Lewis Hamilton by the smallest of margins at Interlagos on Saturday.
The Mercedes AMG PETRONAS duo finished one and two for the fourth session out of four this weekend, with Rosberg finishing ahead of Hamilton by just 0.078s.
Rosberg took control of the session with a time of 1m11.461s, the fastest time of the weekend so far, with Hamilton just 0.088s back, while their second runs saw them both improve further, with Rosberg getting the pole time down to a 1m11.282s.
Behind the front two was Sebastian Vettel, with the Scuderia Ferrari man the only other driver to get beneath the 1m12s barrier – his 1m11.804s putting him comfortably ahead of Williams Martini Racing’s Valtteri Bottas’ 1m12.085s.
Bottas’ pre-qualifying grid penalty sees him drop to seventh on the grid, which promotes the second Ferrari of Kimi Raikkonen to the second row alongside his team-mate, while row three will see Interlagos specialist Nico Hulkenberg of Sahara Force India line-up alongside the leading Infiniti Red Bull Racing entry of Daniil Kvyat. Bottas and team-mate Felipe Massa will start side-by-side on the fourth row of the grid.
Daniel Ricciardo qualified ninth in the second Red Bull, but will be disappointed to see his team-mate out-qualify him as the Australian was using the upgraded Renault power unit for the first time. Ricciardo will start nineteenth as a result of his own grid penalty for changing to that new engine.
Max Verstappen completed the top ten in the leading Scuderia Toro Rosso, with the Dutchman aiming to become the first driver from the team since Vettel to finish the season inside the top ten in the championship standings. He currently sits in that tenth position, but only three points separate him from twelfth placed Hulkenberg, with Romain Grosjean in-between them in the standings.
Felipe Nasr qualified an excellent eleventh for the Sauber F1 Team, but a post-qualifying three-place grid penalty for blocking fellow Brazilian Massa sees him drop down to fourteenth on the grid, promoting Toro Rosso’s Carlos Sainz Jr and Force India’s Sergio Perez onto the sixth row of the grid.
Nasr will also drop behind Sauber team-mate Marcus Ericsson, while Grosjean could only qualify his Lotus down in fifteenth after a wild spin on his first quick lap wrecked his chances of making it through into the top ten shootout.
The Frenchman at least had the satisfaction of once again out-qualifying team-mate Pastor Maldonado for the seventeenth time in eighteen races, with the Venezuelan being eliminated in the first phase of qualifying.
Jenson Button also made an early exit from qualifying in his McLaren-Honda, missing out on Q2 by 0.079s, but team-mate Fernando Alonso did not set a time after being forced to stop at the side of the track with another power issue with his car. The Spaniard will start the race at the back of the grid, alongside the penalised Ricciardo and behind the two Manor F1 Team drivers, where Alexander Rossi out-qualified Will Stevens for the third time in the five events they have competed together.
Interlagos Qualifying Times
|6||27||Nico Hulkenberg||GER||Force India/Mercedes||1m12.265s||18|
|7||26||Daniil Kvyat||RUS||Red Bull/Renault||1m12.322s||20|
|9||3||Daniel Ricciardo||AUS||Red Bull/Renault||1m12.417s||17|
|10||33||Max Verstappen||NED||Toro Rosso/Renault||1m12.739s||15|
|-||-||Eliminated in Q2||-||-||-||-|
|12||55||Carlos Sainz Jr||ESP||Toro Rosso/Renault||1m13.045s||15|
|13||11||Sergio Perez||MEX||Force India/Mercedes||1m13.147s||13|
|-||-||Eliminated in Q1||-||-||-||-|
|20||14||Fernando Alonso||ESP||McLaren/Honda||No Time||2|