Lewis Hamilton was left to rue a sub-par first sector as his fastest lap of Interlagos on Saturday came up short of knocking Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg off pole position for the Brazilian Grand Prix.
The Briton, having topped opening practice on Friday morning, rebounded to reclaim top spot from Rosberg in FP3, and looked to be the favourite for pole after strong performances in both the first two phases of qualifying, but a lapse on the opening stretch in Q3 was enough to allow his rival a second straight Interlagos pole, and a fifth in row in this latter part of 2015.
“The laps were looking quite good – very good through Q1 and Q2, it was just in Q3 that I couldn't find that small bit of edge at the end,” Hamilton admitted, “I didn't maximise the first sector, but the other two were okay.”
The world champion wound up just 0.06s shy of Rosberg's 1m 11.282s and will start alongside the German on Sunday afternoon, but he remains confident of being able to mount a challenge for one of the few races he has yet to win in his nine-year career.
“It was good today actually,” he insisted, “I got a really good balance with the car and I was happy with the work we did with the engineers. I've had the most poles this year and won the championship so there's nothing really to read into it.
“My main job is done this year, so [winning in Brazil] is not the most important thing, but it is still a target. This is a circuit I still haven't won at but, last year, I was strong in the race so I hope to carry that through to tomorrow and see if it can make the difference.”