Valtteri Bottas takes pole in Brazil, with Vettel narrowly missing out. An uncharacteristic error for newly-crowned champion Hamilton saw him hit the barriers in Q1.
There was drama straight away in the first qualifying session when Lewis Hamilton put his Mercedes into the barriers at turn 7 on his first flying lap. The incident red-flagged the session and meant that he was unable to take further part in qualifying so will start at the back tomorrow.
When the session was restarted it was Bottas initially quickest but then Raikkonen went even faster, on the soft tyres. His teammate Vettel also opted for the softs and safely made it through in 3rd.
The red flag period benefitted Stroll, whose engineers would have otherwise failed to get his car out on time after a gearbox failure in FP3. However, he failed to escape the drop zone finishing the session 18th, just ahead of Ericsson.
Hartley was pleased to make it into Q2, but this knocked Wehlein into the drop zone and the other Toro Rosso of Gasly ended the session down in 17th.
Out in Q1:
Bottas was the first driver to reach the 1:08s in Q2 but was surpassed by Vettel almost immediately, by over a tenth of a second. Alonso, meanwhile, put in a strong performance in his McLaren to reach Q3 safely in 6th position. Ocon had a disappointing session, knocked out in 11th place.
Grosjean was also frustrated not to reach the top ten, finishing the session 12th ahead of Vandoorne and Magnussen. Brendon Hartley didn’t set a time in the session so ended up 15th.
Out in Q2:
Vettel was the fastest on the opening runs in Q3, with a 1:08.360 to Bottas’ 1:08.442. Raikkonen went third fastest and the Red Bull of Verstappen a long way off the pace in 4th.
Although Vettel has provisional pole, with Bottas on a quick lap, he needed to improve on his first run. Bottas went faster with a 1:08.322 and with Vettel failing to improve, he took pole by less than half a tenth. Raikkonen improved but couldn’t match the pace of his teammate, so will start 3rd.
Verstappen ended the session ahead of his teammate in 4th, but Ricciardo will drop to 15th with grid penalties. Perez had a strong session to go 6th, ahead of Alonso 7th. Hulkenberg and Sainz were 8th and 9th respectively, getting both Renaults through to the top ten. Home hero Massa could only manage 10th in the end.
Ricciardo and Hartley both face 10-place engine penalties for tomorrow. Gasly will have to serve a 25-place penalty due to multiple power unit component changes. After his gearbox failure in FP3, Stroll will also be serving a 5-place penalty.
With these applied, the provisional grid for tomorrow is:
Bottas, Vettel; Raikkonen, Verstappen; Perez, Alonso; Hulkeberg, Sainz; Massa, Ocon; Grosjean, Vandoorne; Magnussen, Wehrlein; Ricciardo, Ericsson; Stroll, Hartley; Gasly, Hamilton.