Conditions were ever-changing at Interlagos with the track drying up until the start of Q3.
With the rain on the way, the top 10 contenders only had enough time to complete just one lap on the slicks.
This allowed Kevin Magnussen to take a shock pole position, benefitting from Haas pit lane position, ahead of reigning champion Max Verstappen.
Unfortunately for Hamilton, he was at the back of the train and could only manage eighth in the end.
“I just went out to see what the conditions were like but obviously it was properly wet. It’s motor racing.”
“Not really. It was difficult to see the conditions, it was difficult to see the rain drops and it was so dark. I was the last car out so I think I got the earliest part of the rain. I probably lost too much temperature in the pit lane as well. Just a bit unfortunate. George did a great job and congratulations to Kevin.”
George Russell fared better in the second Mercedes, qualifying third.
It wasn’t an entirely smooth session for the British driver, causing the only red flag of the session after running into the gravel trap at Turn 4.
Reflecting on his qualifying display, Russell said: “More mixed emotions because we were obviously one of the last cars to go out in qualifying and it was such a unique experience because as the lap progressed the rain was falling harder and harder. I got to the last corner and it was a lot wetter than the lap before and we had to be very tentative.
"Massive congratulations to Kevin and Haas - this is what F1 and sport is about to have some crazy results like this but for us P3 is a good place to start for the sprint.”
Russell admitted he was to blame when trying to recover from the run-off before being beached in the gravel trap.
“What was going through my mind was a really bad headache,” he added. “'I've broken the headrest because my head was banging so much. It was a pretty unpleasant experience. I lost the rear and booted it, I wanted to do a 360 [spin] and dipped the rears in the gravel. Probably not the wisest choice I’ve ever made.”