Despite being out of the title fight, McLaren ensured it would take some of the headlines in Brazil after Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button locked out the front row of the grid for the 2012 F1 title decider at Interlagos.
In a session that started in challenging damp conditions after a brief rain shower, McLaren continued to lead the way on the timesheets as – having paced all three practice sessions – the Woking-based squad again led the way when it came to determining the grid positions.
Neither driver had suffered any scare in making it through to Q3 on a rapidly improving circuit, with the final flying laps proving to be the key ones in the final ten-minute shootout.
When the chequered flag dropped, the leading protagonists were all on their quickest laps of the session with Mark Webber taking provisional pole for Red Bull before Hamilton crossed the line to move into top spot with a time of 1min 12.458secs.
Points leader Sebastian Vettel then went third only to see Button beat both Red Bulls to go second – just 0.055sec behind his McLaren partner, who will now start his final race for the team at the head of the pack.
Webber and Vettel will therefore share the second row of the grid ahead of Felipe Massa, who once again out-qualified team-mate Fernando Alonso. Ferrari has already revealed there will be no repeat of the tactic it employed last weekend in Austin, with the team now hoping the Brazilian can get in the mix at the start to aid Alonso's title challenge,
Massa shares row three of the grid with Pastor Maldonado, although the Venezuelan could find himself in trouble for missing a weight check in the session – the same thing that caused Webber to pick up a reprimand last weekend in Austin.
Force India's Nico Hulkenberg and Alonso then share row four - the Spaniard ending up eight tenths of a second away from pole – while Kimi Raikkonen and Nico Rosberg rounded out the top ten; Raikkonen having undergone an engine change after final practice.
The Q2 runners were headed by Paul di Resta, who once again was unable to join Force India partner Hulkenberg in the final stage of qualifying and will start from eleventh with Bruno Senna also unable to make it into Q3 on his final lap of the session.