RESULTS: Brazilian Grand Prix – Qualifying results
Lewis Hamilton has maintained the pressure on title favourite Nico Rosberg ahead of the penultimate round of the season after qualifying on pole position for the Brazilian Grand Prix.
Having been closely matched during free practice, once more there was precious little to choose between the two Mercedes drivers in qualifying but it was Hamilton that would set the benchmark with a 1min 10.860secs lap out of the box before lowering it to 1min 10.736secs on his second lap.
Falling more than a tenth short on his first run, Rosberg looked capable of challenging Hamilton after posting the quickest first sector of the session, only to lose ground as the lap progressed, the German missing out by 0.102secs.
Nevertheless, the result sets the pair up for a crunch duel at Interlagos tomorrow, with a Rosberg win from second on the grid enough to secure him the title. A win for Hamilton would take it down to the final round in Abu Dhabi.
Seven tenths adrift of the top spot, Ferrari and Red Bull were nonetheless closely matched behind them, with Kimi Raikkonen securing third position ahead of Max Verstappen, Daniel Ricciardo and Sebastian Vettel, the quartet split by little more than a tenth.
Leaving his very best until last, Romain Grosjean was a fine seventh quickest for Haas to make it the fourth quickest team, the Frenchman out-pacing Force India drivers Nico Hulkenberg and Sergio Perez, while Fernando Alonso produced a strong effort to reach Q3 on his way to 10th.
Having shown eye-catching pace throughout free practice, Williams found themselves out-performed when it mattered in qualifying, with Valtteri Bottas and home hero Felipe Massa eliminated in Q2.
Caught out by a flurry of late laps, Bottas will nonetheless have the pick of the strategic options in 11th, with Massa beginning his final Brazilian Grand Prix from a disappointing 13th, the pair split by Esteban Gutierrez's Haas.
Out-qualifying his team-mate for only the fourth time this season, Daniil Kvyat will start 14th with Carlos Sainz 15th, while Jolyon Palmer was the only Renault driver into Q2 en route to 16th.
For the third time in four races Jenson Button failed to progress beyond Q1, the former champion struggling with the set-up of his McLaren-Honda and failing to improve on his final lap to go 17th for what could be his penultimate grand prix.
He was joined in the drop zone by Kevin Magnussen in 18th, while Pascal Wehrlein out-qualified his Manor team-mate Esteban Ocon in 19th and 20th. Bringing up the rear was Marcus Ericsson and Felipe Nasr in their Saubers.
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