Lewis Hamilton has beaten Sebastian Vettel to take pole position by nine-hundredths of a second to start on pole position for the Brazilian Grand Prix. The five-time champion has never taken pole after sealing the title but is looking for his first win.
However, it wasn’t an easy session for both drivers as they both had near misses. Hamilton had two on-track incidents, the first with Sergey Sirotkin in when the Williams driver swerved off the track. Amid suggestions both drivers were on out laps, stewards decided not to investigate the incident.
“As far as I knew no one behind was on a [fast] lap so I was making sure I had a gap, then all of a sudden out of turn 11 I saw a car coming,” said Hamilton.
“I thought someone might have been on a lap, so I went to the left and that’s where he decided to go. But he wasn’t on a lap so I don’t really know what his thinking was.
For Vettel, his investigation is for ignoring the instructions of the stewards and for failing to stop at the scales. The German drove onto the scales but in his rush to recovered time, he broke the scales, failed to turn the car off and could be facing exclusion from the session.
He told Sky Sports Paul di Resta, “They shouldn’t call us when the conditions are changing like that I think it’s unfair if somebody is pulled in. I wanted them to hurry up.”
Their teammates were a tenth off, with Valtteri Bottas a tenth of Hamilton in third and Kimi Raikkonen fourth. The two Finns separated by one hundredth off a second.
Ferrari appeared to have the edge over the Mercedes going into Q3, but that before intermittent rain arrived at the circuit. But all weekend it has been very close between the sports top two teams. Ferrari will, however, hold the advantage going into the race after getting through Q2 on softs.
Red Bull’s were unable to close down the gap to the top two, with Max Verstappen four tenths off the outright pace. He edged out his teammate Daniel Ricciardo by two-thousandths of a second for fifth, however he will start eleventh after an unscheduled turbo change.
It was yet another stunning afternoon for Sauber, the Swiss team having their best session of the season with them best of the rest. Marcus Ericsson almost two tenths faster then Charles Leclerc.
Haas’s Romain Grosjean was ninth fastest and comfortably ahead of the Toro Rosso of Pierre Gasly. The second Haas of Kevin Magnussen, the Dane was pushed out as the track conditions improved following rain in the latter part of the session.
Magnussen and Sergey Sirotkin will report to stewards for driving unnecessarily slowly on in-laps.
The weather didn’t stop Esteban Ocon from improving on his final run, however, it was only good enough for thirteenth. Nico Hulkenberg also managed to improve his time but stayed fourteenth. Pierre Gasly was fifteenth after pushing his teammate Brendon Hartley out.
Lance Stroll was nineteenth, with the McLarens of Fernando Alonso and Stoffel Vandoorne either side of him and set for another difficult race from the back end of the grid.