Lewis Hamilton followed his title victory in Mexico with another declaration of authority and, thanks to an incomparable round in Interlagos, took the pole position for the Brazilian Grand Prix. Sebastian Vettel in Ferrari was second and kept his place after two hours delay, as stewards examined him for violating the rules. Hamilton's Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas finished third.
Hamilton made two sparkling laps in the final session, none of which was consistent, and took the pole position with a new 1min track record of 7,281 seconds. He was a tenth of Vettel and rightly proud of a performance that reflects a season of superlatives.
"It was so close between us that we needed 100% today, not 99," he said. "I was very happy with my lap and I think that as a team we did a great job overall to reach the pole position today. We had to work a lot overnight, and the team was faultless. "
Vettel, whose temperament was challenged by a series of mistakes after his championship assignment, proved almost too restless during the session. The German was referred to the stewards after he had not turned off his engine in Q2 on entering the weighing platform and damaged the device.
Vettel wanted to complete the process as soon as possible to complete a lap before the rain became stronger and could have been disqualified. "You should not call us when conditions change, it's unfair to call us," he said.
The Ferarri driver had to await a forced wait for the steward's decision before receiving a reprimand and a fine of € 25,000 (£ 21,843) for failing to obey the officials' instructions. The title of the driver is already over, but he has to constantly express himself under false misgivings if he wants to fight for the championship in the next season.
McLaren had better news. The team, which is living through a terrible season, gave Fernando Alonso at least reason to be confident when he announced on Saturday that he will ride at the Indy 500 next year. This year he started in 2017 in Indy. With victories in Monaco and Le Mans he tries to contribute the last part of the triple crown of motorsport by securing a victory at the Ziegelhof.
After Hamilton had won his fifth title in Mexico, in a race in which Mercedes could not keep up, his 10th pole of the season is a strong return to form.
He secured a 100th pole position for Mercedes, and the British driver and his team in Brazil are not finished yet.
Mercedes has not won the Constructors' Championship yet, and Hamilton knew he wanted to make sure they did. Currently 55 points ahead of Ferrari (86 of the last two races). Ferrari has to overtake Mercedes by 13 points to bring the fight to the finals in Abu Dhabi.
Should Mercedes secure the title, they have reached Ferrari's record of five consecutive driver and constructor competitions, which they reached between 2000 and 2004 with Michael Schumacher.
But it can not be easy. Vettel and his teammate Kimi Raikkonen, who was fourth, set their time on the soft tire in the second quarter and gave them more strategic options over their competitors, who will all start with the super-soft rubber. It was a perfectly timely, courageous and tactical decision by Ferrari that could prove to be inspired.