Lewis Hamilton says he knew it was going to take “something quite special” for Mercedes to overhaul Formula 1 rivals Ferrari in Brazilian Grand Prix qualifying.

Hamilton, who had not appeared at the top of the timesheets all weekend in Brazil until Q3, turned in a pair of laps good enough for pole position as he pipped Sebastian Vettel by just 0.093s during a dramatic and controversial qualifying session.

The recently-crowned five-time world champion’s final effort - a 1m07.281s set on Pirelli’s Supersoft compound - secured his 10th pole position of the season and marked the 82nd of his career.

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“Ferrari have been really quick all weekend, the last three races, they’ve been really quick, so it was going to take something quite special to overhaul them,” Hamilton explained.

“It was obviously so close between us so you really needed 100 per cent, not 99. I was really happy with the lap that I did.”

Hamilton praised the “faultless” work done by Mercedes overnight to help improve the car after conceding the team was still working to solve some set-up and performance-related issues throughout Friday practice.

“I think collectively, as a team, we did a really good job to get the car to a comfortable balance," he said.

"We had to do a lot of work overnight and again, the team were really faultless with their efforts so I was so happy when I came across the line.”

Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff was thrilled by Hamilton’s pole lap but warned the race “might be a different game”, given Ferrari’s gamble to run on the Soft tyre in Q2.

It means both Vettel and teammate Kimi Raikkonen will, theoretically at least, be able to run longer into Sunday’s race than the Mercedes duo, possibly handing Ferrari a strategic advantage.

“We should be very pleased with pole position and P3 after such a close qualifying,” Wolff said.

“The battle with Ferrari is so tough, it's like a boxing match, every time you land a punch, they come back with another, and we have to keep fighting for every result.

“It felt that way through every part of qualifying and on every lap, you could never be sure if we had enough performance to claim pole.

“The race might be a different game," he added. "Ferrari took the gamble in Q2 on the Soft tyre and it paid off, so it will be an interesting opening stint.

“If we want to win, we will have to fight for it every step of the way."

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