Despite already securing the title in Mexico, Lewis Hamilton clocked the fastest time in qualifying at Interlagos on Saturday.
Newly crowned world champion Lewis Hamilton claimed Mercedes’ 100th pole position after an eventful qualifying session for the Brazilian Grand Prix.
After securing the drivers’ crown in Mexico last time out, Hamilton clocked a lap time of one minute and 7.281 seconds to help his team reach a notable milestone in Formula One.
It will be the third time he has started at the front of the grid in Interlagos, where the threat of rain – one that failed to fully materialise – provided drama despite the title no longer being up for grabs at the penultimate race in 2018.
Sebastian Vettel ended in second place, just 0.093s behind his rival, but faces the possibility of a grid penalty after being called before the stewards.
The German opted not to adhere to the rules by keeping his engine running when race officials called him to the weighbridge in Q2, in the process destroying the scales.
Any punishment would be a blow for his team as they bid to keep the constructors’ title race alive – they must score 13 more points than Mercedes to extend the battle into the season finale in Abu Dhabi.
Hamilton, meanwhile, avoided punishment after appearing to steer into the path of Sergey Sirotkin during the latter’s flying lap during the same segment of qualifying, forcing the Williams driver to dramatically swerve out of the way.
The Brit also came close to colliding with Kimi Raikkonen as the leading teams became less concerned with times and more about tyres, knowing full well that whatever specification was used to set their quickest lap in Q2 would also be used for the start of Sunday’s race.
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Max Verstappen sits ahead of Red Bull team-mate Daniel Ricciardo on the third row, ahead of the Sauber pairing of Marcus Ericsson and Charles LeClerc, who only squeezed into Q1 with an impressive lap after the clock had expired.
Romain Grosjean of Haas and Toro Rosso’s Pierre Gasly round out the top 10.
1. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) 1:07.281
2. Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari) +0.093s
3. Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes) +0.160s
4. Kimi Raikkonen (Ferrari) +0.175s
5. Max Verstappen (Red Bull) +0.497s
6. Daniel Ricciardo (Red Bull) +0.499s
7. Marcus Ericsson (Sauber) +1.015s
8. Charles LeClerc (Sauber) +1.211s
9. Romain Grosjean (Haas) +1.236s
10. Pierre Gasly (Toro Ross) +1.748s