The seven-time world champion was never headed in any of the three sessions as he outpaced Verstappen’s Red Bull by a huge 0.438s with a comprehensive display. 

It means the 2021 F1 title rivals will start alongside it other on the front row of the grid for Saturday’s sprint, the results of which will determine the grid for the grand prix on Sunday. 

It was an important result for Hamilton on a potentially crucial weekend as the title reaches its climax. 

Hamilton carries a five-place grid penalty into Sunday’s race after taking a new engine in his Mercedes, but the Briton will be determined to claw back some ground on Verstappen’s 19-point lead in the sprint. 

Valtteri Bottas couldn’t quite join his Mercedes teammate on the front row as he wound up third, more than half a second adrift of Hamilton’s benchmark. 

The Finn did manage to outpace one Red Bull, with Sergio Perez fourth fastest ahead of Pierre Gasly, who continues his superb recent form with an excellent lap to claim fifth in his AlphaTauri.

 

Carlos Sainz led Ferrari’s charge in sixth, two tenths clear of teammate Charles Leclerc, who narrowly outpaced the McLaren pair of Lando Norris and Daniel Ricciardo to take seventh on the grid. 

Two-time world champion Fernando Alonso completed the top 10, having denied his Alpine teammate Esteban Ocon a spot in Q3. 

Joining Ocon in being knocked out in Q2 was Sebastian Vettel, who was 12th in his Aston Martin. 

Yuki Tsunoda’s recent run of Q3 appearances came to an end in Brazil with the Japanese rookie only 13th-quickest in his AlphaTauri.  

Behind Tsunoda came the Alfa Romeo duo of Kimi Raikkonen and Antonio Giovinazzi, who will line up 14th and 15th for Saturday’s sprint. 

Lance Stroll could only manage the 16th-fastest time as the Aston Martin driver suffered a surprise Q1 elimination. 

The Canadian was joined in the bottom five by the Williams and Haas drivers, with Nicholas Latifi outpacing teammate George Russell in a conventional qualifying session for the first time.  

Latifi got the better of Russell by just 0.056s, while Mick Schumacher comfortably edged out Haas teammate Nikita Mazepin to round out the bottom of the timesheets. 

Full results from qualifying at the 2021 F1 Sao Paulo Grand Prix.