Max Verstappen will start the Brazilian Grand Prix from the rear of row two after claiming fourth place in a tight qualifying session that saw newly-crowned champion Lewis Hamilton crash out in Q1. Daniel Ricciardo, meanwhile qualified fifth, and is likely to start in P15 once a 10-place grid penalty for power unit changes is applied.
In a dramatic start to Q1, Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton crashed out within minutes of the green light signalling the start of the session. The four-time champion lost control in Turn 6, lost the back end of his car and slid hard into the tyre barriers.
The session was briefly red-flagged and when the action resumed it was Hamilton's team-mate Valtteri Bottas who seized an early P1 with a lap of 1:10.053.
However, he was soon eclipsed by Max and then by Sebastian Vettel, with the Ferrari driver posting a time of 1:09.796. Bottas responded but he was then edged out by Kimi Räikkönen in the second Ferrari with a lap of 1:09.405. Max would eventually make it through to Q2 in P5 with Daniel in sixth as they were edged back by a good final flyer from Williams' Felipe Massa.
At the lower end of the timesheet, Toro Rosso's Brendon Hartley was the driver to profit from Hamilton not figuring at the top. With the Briton rooted to the bottom of the timesheet by his crash, just four other drivers would be eliminated at the end of the session and Hartley's lap of 1:10.625 was good enough for P15, five hundredths of a second ahead of Sauber's Pascal Wehrlein, who was eliminated ahead of the second Toro Rosso of Pierre Gasly, the Williams of Lance Stroll, the second Sauber of Marcus Ericsson and Hamilton.
Bottas set the pace early in Q2 with a lap of 1:08.901 that left him just over a tenth of a second clear of Vettel and a further tenth up on Räikkönen. The Red Bulls then slotted into fourth and fifth, with Max slightly ahead of Daniel.
However, while Q2 has usually seen the frontrunners stay in their garage for the final runs, in Brazil the entire top five took the track for a second run. And it was Vettel who found the most time. The German took top spot with a time of 1:08.494, 0.144 ahead of Bottas. Max went through to Q3 in third place, with Räikkönen fourth ahead of Daniel.
Renault's Nico Hulkenberg made the biggest leap in the final runs of Q2, climbing from P13 to P8 as the final times came in. It meant that Force India's Esteban Ocon was eliminated in P11 ahead of Haas' Romain Grosjean, McLaren's Stoffel Vandoorne, the second Haas of Kevin Magnussen and Hartley.
Vettel again set the early pace in the final Q3 session his first-run time of 1:08.360 keeping Bottas marginally at bay, with Räikkönen in third. Max claimed fourth with his first run just under three tenths of a second ahead of Daniel.
But it was Bottas who made the most of the final laps. As drops of rain began to fall across Interlagos, Vettel failed to find an improvement. That opened the door for Bottas and the Finn squeeze through, just 0.038 ahead of his Ferrari rival to claim his third career pole position. Räikkönen took third in the second Ferrari with a time of 1:08.538.
Max Verstappen improved to be the only other driver inside the 1m09s mark with a lap of 1:08.925, while Daniel finished fifth ahead of Force India's Sergio Perez. Fernando Alonso put in a good performance to claim seventh place ahead of Hulkenberg, Renault team-mate Carlos Sainz and Massa.
Brazil GP Qualifying Result:
1. BOT, 1:08.322s
2. VET, 1:08.360s
3. RAI, 1:08.538s
4. Max, 1:08.925s
5. Daniel, 1:09.330s*
6. PER, 1:09.598s
7. ALO, 1:09.617s
8. HUL, 1:09.703s
9. SAI, 1:09.805s
10. MAS, 1:09.841s
*Penalties to be applied