Valtteri Bottas grabbed pole position for the Brazilian Grand Prix, ahead of Ferrari pair Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Räikkönen. His Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton crashed in the first qualifying phase.
Hamilton lost control through the exit of Ferradura and slid into the barriers on the outside of Laranjinha in Q1. He managed to walk away from the scene but his car sustained terminal damage. This means the World Champion will start the race from the back of the grid.
Hamilton’s crash, and Ferrari’s improved pace, opened up the battle for pole, with Bottas and Vettel trading fastest lap times through Q1, Q2 and Q3.
Vettel led after the first Q3 runs, with a time of 1:08.360, marginally quicker than Bottas, before drops of rain began to fall, suggesting an end to the battle for pole.
But the rain did not intensify and, on a still quick track surface, Bottas improved to a 1:08.322, edging out Vettel, who failed to improve on his final attempt.
Bottas, who recently admitted to enduring the “most difficult time” of his career, thus secured a third pole of the season, following on from his efforts in Bahrain and Austria.
Red Bull again lacked pace to Mercedes and Red Bull, after dropping away in final practice. Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo taking fourth and fifth respectively.
Ricciardo was the only driver to progress from Q2 on the Soft compound tyre, in preparation for his engine-related penalty, which will push him back 10 places on the grid.
Sergio Pérez led the ‘best of the rest’ battle for Force India. And he will be the first beneficiary of Ricciardo’s penalty, ahead of Fernando Alonso.
Nico Hülkenberg and Carlos Sainz Jr. were eighth and ninth, the latter appearing to impede Williams’ Felipe Massa, who completed the top 10 in his final home qualifying run.
Esteban Ocon was a surprise Q2 dropout in 11th. As the other McLaren of Stoffel Vandoorne split Haas pair Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen.
Brendon Hartley made it through to Q2 for the second successive event. But he refrained from posting a time, given his impending grid penalty for power unit changes.
Pierre Gasly lapped only six hundredths slower than team-mate Hartley in Q1. But he dropped out in an ultra-close session, taking 17th, behind Pascal Wehrlein.
Lance Stroll struggled after his FP3 stoppage, which led to a gearbox and engine change, en route to 18th. Marcus Ericsson (Sauber) was the slowest of the timed runners.
Hamilton crashed out of proceedings without a lap time to his name. And he will therefore start at the very back of the grid, behind the penalised Hartley and Gasly.
— Formula 1 (@F1) November 11, 2017