Valtteri Bottas claimed pole position for the Brazilian Grand Prix after newly crowned world champion Lewis Hamilton crashed out without posting a lap time on Saturday.
Hamilton, who sealed a fourth drivers’ title in Mexico last time out, lost control of his car on his first hot lap at Interlagos and slid into a tyre wall, with the session temporarily halted as a result.
The Briton will now start Sunday’s race from the back of the field, but his Mercedes team-mate secured a third career pole to boost his hopes of beating Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel to second in the championship.
Bottas, who trails Vettel by 15 points with two races remaining, topped the timesheets with a track record of one minute and 8.322 seconds in a session that ended with light rain falling.
Vettel (+0.038secs) and the second Ferrari of Kimi Raikkonen (0.216s) were second and third, ahead of Red Bull drivers Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo. The latter will drop 10 places due to a grid penalty.
BREAKING: @ValtteriBottas takes pole at the #BrazilGP ahead of Sebastian Vettel (P2) and Kimi Raikkonen pic.twitter.com/I3nztkXiyo
— Formula 1 (@F1) November 11, 2017
McLaren’s continued end-of-season improvement was illustrated by Fernando Alonso qualifying seventh behind Force India’s Sergio Perez, as Esteban Ocon surprisingly missed out on Q3.
Williams’ Felipe Massa finished 10th ahead of his final race on home soil.
1. Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes) 1:08.322
2. Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari) 1:08.360
3. Kimi Raikkonen (Ferrari) 1:08.538
4. Max Verstappen (Red Bull) 1:08.925
5. Daniel Ricciardo (Red Bull) 1:09.330 ***
6. Sergio Perez (Force India) 1:09.598
7. Fernando Alonso (McLaren) 1:09.617
8. Nico Hulkenberg (Renault) 1:09.703
9. Carlos Sainz (Renault) 1:09.805
10. Felipe Massa (Williams) 1:09.841
*** faces 10-place grid penalty