Felipe Massa has taken a second consecutive pole position in his home grand prix at Interlagos, but most significantly for the championship fight, Lewis Hamilton saw off the challenges of both Kimi Raikkonen and Fernando Alonso to join the Brazilian on the front row of the grid.

Massa ended proceedings one-and-a-half tenths clear of the field, but with the paddock whispers that the Ferrari ace was running somewhat lighter than his immediate rivals so as to act as a spoiler to the McLaren charge in the race, Hamilton's final effort to steal P2 from under the nose of the second scarlet machine was a mightily impressive one. Indeed, Raikkonen will line up a further three tenths adrift in third having never truly been on his team-mate's pace throughout, whilst a last-ditch lap from Alonso was only enough to lift the reigning double world champion up to fourth, as the Spaniard perhaps sees his crown slipping ever-further from his grasp.

Alonso's qualifying, though, had been a curious one from the word go, as he was off the pace of his three main rivals in Q1 and the only one of the leading four contenders to go out for a final run in that session, thereby needlessly using up an extra set of tyres. He also spent time queuing up behind his team-mate to change over to the super-soft tyres in Q3, and only just made it across the start-finish line in time to begin his final lap with four seconds to spare.

Mark Webber eventually took fifth spot, continuing Red Bull Racing's strong recent form and giving the Milton Keynes-based squad a shot in the arm as it bids to wrest fourth position away from Williams in the constructors' standings. The Australian was on the pace throughout the qualifying hour, and his effort was backed up by that of team-mate David Coulthard, three tenths of a second back in ninth.

The BMW-Saubers of Nick Heidfeld and Robert Kubica wound up sixth and seventh with barely anything to choose between them, as the latter's F1.07 displayed few ill-effects from the throttle issue that had grounded it during morning practice.

Jarno Trulli maintained his excellent qualifying record in 2007 in eighth, while Williams' Nico Rosberg completed the top ten, the young German like Coulthard having needed a stunning last effort earlier on to avoid the Q2 drop.

Home hero Rubens Barrichello failed to make it into the final shoot-out by the tiniest of margins, after hauling himself up into the top ten in the very dying moments of Q2 only to see Trulli push him straight back out again just seconds later. The Italian's countryman Giancarlo Fisichella was also shuffled down the order in the crucial closing seconds, winding up twelfth on the grid and meaning neither Renault will start inside the top ten in the season's final race.

Sebastian Vettel and Vitantonio Liuzzi were evenly-matched in 13th and 14th, with Ralf Schumacher and Jenson Button - both of whom had only very narrowly averted the Q1 chop, the latter by a scant two hundredths of a second - unable to improve when it counted most and left down in 15th and 16th.

The biggest loser from Q1 was Renault's Heikki Kovalainen, as a last-gasp effort from the Finn ended in a mistake in the final corner that left him more than half a second adrift of team-mate Fisichella, consigning the young Finn to begin the final grand prix of his maiden season in the top flight from a lowly 17th place, his first Q1 exit since Canada all the way back in June. He did, though, we should remember, convert that into fourth place at the chequered flag, so he will be well aware that all is not yet lost.

Kovalainen was joined in the bottom six by Takuma Sato and Anthony Davidson, with the Super Aguri pairing split by Williams new boy Kazuki Nakajima, who failed to convert his promising practice showing as he wound up down in 19th spot, seven tenths of a second shy of team-mate Rosberg.

The Spykers will once again bring up the rear of the grid, with Adrian Sutil outpacing last year's Interlagos hero Sakon Yamamoto despite pulling off at the side of the track with mechanical woes early on.

To see the qualifying times in full,click here