Nico Rosberg’s pole streak continued in Brazil as the the German beat Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton by 0.078 during qualifying on Saturday.
Hamilton led home Rosberg during the first two legs of qualifying, but fell behind in the all-important Q3 session. While Hamilton lapped the Interlagos Circuit in 1:11.360 on his final run, Rosberg went marginally quicker with a time of 1:11.282 to take his fifth straight pole of the season.
Behind the Mercedes runners, Sebastian Vettel qualified his Ferrari in third place ahead of the Williams of Valtteri Bottas, who will drop three places on the grid for overtaking a rival driver under red flag in FP2.
Kimi Raikkonen was fifth fastest in the session, nearly a second down on Rosberg’s pole time.
Meanwhile, Nico Hulkenberg was again impressive around Interlagos, setting the sixth fastest time in qualifying on a day his teammate Sergio Perez was knocked out in Q2.
Daniil Kvyat and home hero Felipe Massa will share the third row on the grid while Daniel Ricciardo was only 9th quickest in qualifying, despite using the updated Renault engine on the back of his RB11.
Toro Rosso’s Max Verstappen rounded off the top 10.
Earlier in Q2, Romain Grosjean spun at turn 7, eliminating any chances of moving further in qualifying. He was joined by the Sauber duo of Felipe Nasr (P11) and Marcus Ericsson (P14), Toro Rosso’s Carlos Sainz (P12) and the Force India of Sergio Perez (P13) in the list of drivers failing to make the cut for Q3.
Both McLaren drivers were knocked out in Q1, with Fernando Alonso failing to set a laptime. The Spaniard was forced to park his car on the edge of the track with a reported loss of power. Jenson Button, meanwhile, was only 16th fastest, half a second down on Lotus’ Pastor Maldonado.
Among the Manor duo, Alexander Rossi edged full-season driver Will Stevens by just over a tenth of a second.
by Rachit Thukral