Lewis Hamilton has taken his sixtieth pole position in Formula 1 after beating his Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula One Team team-mate Nico Rosberg by a tenth of a second at the end of a thrilling qualifying session at the Autódromo José Carlos Pace in Brazil on Saturday.
The duo were once again the class of the field and the only drivers to get underneath the seventy-one second barrier, with Hamilton taking pole with a time of 1:10.736, just 0.102 seconds ahead of Rosberg, who can clinch the championship with a victory on Sunday or if he leaves Brazil with a lead of more than twenty-five points.
Kimi Raikkonen will line up on the second row of the grid for Scuderia Ferrari after a great final effort to place third, just ahead of Red Bull Racing‘s Max Verstappen. The second Ferrari of Sebastian Vettel was forced to settle for fifth place ahead of the second Red Bull of Daniel Ricciardo, with positions third through to sixth being separated by just 0.136 seconds.
One of the the stars of qualifying was Romain Grosjean, who made it through to the top ten shootout for only the second time this season for the Haas F1 Team, and qualified in seventh, breaking the 1:12 second barrier in the process, and qualifying ahead of the two Sahara Force India F1 Team cars with Nico Hulkenberg and Sergio Perez qualifying eighth and ninth respectively.
Fernando Alonso rounded out the top ten for the McLaren Honda Formula 1 Team, which was an impressive result considering his team-mate failed to make it out of Q1 and his own weekend had been compromised by stopping on track on Friday afternoon and by a potential gearbox issue that restricted his running on Saturday morning.
In Q2 the battle between the Williams Martini Racing Team and the Sahara Force India F1 Team intensified as Valtteri Bottas and Felipe Massa were both knocked out by the Force India drivers in the dying moments of the session, the Finn by just 0.060 seconds.
Williams has looked strong all weekend but just missed on a Q3 place which will be hugely disappointed for both drivers, but especially for Massa who will be driving his final Brazilian Grand Prix in Formula 1 before retiring at the end of the season. The team-mates were separated by Esteban Gutierrez in the second Haas F1 car, qualifying twelfth in second to last race with the American team, and was also knocked out of Q3 in the closing moments.
The Scuderia Toro Rosso team will be disappointed with Daniil Kvyat and Carlos Sainz finishing fourteenth and fifteenth respectively, while newly resigned Renault Sport Formula 1 Team driver Jolyon Palmer qualified sixteenth ahead of his team-mate which can be a positive for the British driver, despite locking up at least three times on his fastest lap in Q2.
One of the big surprises in Q1 was Jenson Button failing to make it into Q2, with the McLaren driver finishing in seventeenth place after suffering with both understeer and oversteer throughout the session, while Kevin Magnussen failed to match Renault team-mate Palmer and finished the session down in eighteenth place.
The Manor Racing MRT duo of Pascal Wehrlein and Esteban Ocon will fill out the penultimate row of the grid, ahead of both of the Sauber F1 Team drivers, Marcus Ericsson getting the better of Felipe Nasr despite missing final practice as his mechanics changed his engine.
With rain predicted on Sunday, anything could happen on race day, but Hamilton needs to maintain his advantage over team-mate Rosberg if he does want to retain hope of retaining his title in Abu Dhabi in two weeks time.
Autódromo José Carlos Pace Qualifying Result
|POS||NO.||DRIVER||NAT||TEAM||Q1 TIME||Q2 TIME||Q3 TIME||LAPS|
|4||33||Max Verstappen||NED||Red Bull-Tag Heuer||1:11.957||1:11.834||1:11.485||12|
|6||3||Daniel Ricciardo||AUS||Red Bull-Tag Heuer||1:12.409||1:12.047||1:11.540||12|
|8||27||Nico Hulkenberg||GER||Force India-Mercedes||1:12.428||1:12.360||1:12.104||20|
|9||11||Sergio Perez||MEX||Force India-Mercedes||1:12.684||1:12.331||1:12.165||21|
|14||26||Daniil Kvyat||RUS||Toro Rosso-Renault||1:13.071||1:12.726||15|
|15||55||Carlos Sainz Jr||ESP||Toro Rosso-Renault||1:12.950||1:12.920||15|