Nico Rosberg beats Lewis Hamilton to Brazilian GP pole
|Brazilian Grand Prix|
|Venue: Autodromo Jose Carlos Pace Dates: 13-15 November|
|Coverage: Live TV, radio and text coverage of the race. Full coverage details.|
Nico Rosberg took his fifth consecutive pole position as he edged a battle with Lewis Hamilton at the Brazilian GP.
Rosberg beat Hamilton by just 0.078 seconds as the Mercedes drivers were half a second clear of Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel, with Williams driver Valtteri Bottas fourth.
Bottas will drop three places after a penalty for a practice transgression.
Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen, Force India's Nico Hulkenberg and Red Bull's Daniil Kvyat will benefit from his error.
McLaren drivers Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button provided entertainment as they made light of their struggles.
Alonso sunbathed out on track and winked at the television cameras after his engine failed before he had managed a single flying lap.
And after Button qualified 17th, the two climbed on to the podium and jokingly waved at the crowd, to huge cheers.
After a dismal season for the team because of recurring problems with their Honda engine, Alonso joked: "I need to be a little bit more prepared next time and take the sun cream or something because it was quite hot out there.
"We passed that close to the podium and said we will not be that close again so let's take a picture."
Pressure for Hamilton "has gone"
Hamilton had come to Brazil determined to end Rosberg's run of poles, even if only one had ended in victory, and take his first win in the home country of his childhood hero Ayrton Senna.
But Rosberg won the first part of their battle, beating Hamilton on both their runs in the top 10 shoot-out.
Hamilton was 0.088secs adrift on their first laps and after Rosberg lowered his time by nearly 0.2secs to one minute 11.282secs on his final run, Hamilton again fractionally came up short.
"Nico is on fire," team boss Toto Wolff said. "For Lewis maybe some of the pressure is gone and whether that is good or not I don't know. But it is good going into next season."
Rosberg also may have a slight advantage in the first part of the race on Sunday (on BBC One from 15:20 GMT) as he drove conservatively on the set of tyres on which he set his best time in second qualifying, which he has to use to start the race.
Rosberg said: "Of course pleased with today. The last lap was very close to the edge."
Hamilton said he was not concerned about Rosberg's run of form in qualifying.
"It was good today. I got a good balance. At the end I didn't maximise the first sector but the other two sectors were OK.
"It is a circuit I haven't won at. Last year I was stronger in the race and I hope that will make the difference."
So close behind the Mercedes
Behind the Mercedes and Vettel, it was very close, with only 0.4secs separating Bottas in fourth from Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo in ninth.
Ricciardo's position, behind Kvyat in seventh and Williams driver Felipe Massa, was not great news for Red Bull, as the Australian was using an upgraded Renault engine for the first time and was not only slower than his sister car around the lap but also slower down the straights, according to team boss Christian Horner.
The new power-unit means Ricciardo will take a 10-place grid penalty for using too many this season.
Red Bull are to use Renault engine again next season, although this has not been officially confirmed, and it will be under a different relationship than their works partnership of the last few years. The engines may be given a different name.
Sauber's Felipe Nasr, who qualified 11th, has been given a three-place grid penalty for impeding Williams's Felipe Massa.