Valtteri Bottas will start Sunday’s Brazilian Formula 1 Grand Prix from pole position ahead of Ferrari duo Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Räikkönen, after Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton crashed heavily just minutes into qualifying at Interlagos.

Having missed out on a clean sweep in practice when Bottas edged him in FP3 by just 0.003 seconds, Hamilton lost control of his car through Ferradura and slid sideways into the barriers at Laranjinha in Q1.

Fortunately the newly-crowned four-time World Champion emerged from his car unscathed, however his F1W08 suffered heavy damage that will require major repairs.

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes AMG Petronas F1W08 - 2017 Brazilian Grand Prix

Hamilton dramatically crashed out of qualifying. (LAT Images)

His accident, along with improved pace from Ferrari, made for a tense battle for pole with Bottas and Vettel trading fastest times throughout the session’s three phases.

Vettel held provisional pole after the first Q3 run with a time of 1:08.360, just before a few spots of rain began to fall.

That should have given the Ferrari driver the ascendancy, but the rain failed to intensify. With track temperatures cooling slightly, Bottas pulled out all stops and clocked a 1:08.322 on his second run to nose ahead of Vettel, who failed to improve on his next attempt.

The third pole position of his career was a welcome boost for Bottas, who has endured an indifferent second half of his first year at Mercedes.

Red Bull Racing was unable to extract the pace from its TAG Heuer-badged Renault engines, meaning Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo (who takes a 10-place grid penalty) could do no better than fourth- and fifth-fastest respectively.

Ricciardo importantly managed to sneak into Q3 on a Soft compound run, which will open the Australian’s strategic options for Sunday’s race ahead of his grid penalty.

Behind the top five, Sergio Pérez led the ‘best of the rest’ charge for Force India, with the Mexican finishing ahead of McLaren’s Fernando Alonso, Renault pairing Nico Hülkenberg and Carlos Sainz Jr. and Williams’ Felipe Massa.

Massa, who will contest the penultimate Grand Prix of his career before retiring from the sport, accused Sainz Jr. of blocking him during Q3, however the FIA Stewards did not penalise the Renault driver.

Esteban Ocon surprised by failing to make it into Q3, qualifying eleventh fastest ahead of Haas pair Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen, who were split by the second McLaren of Stoffel Vandoorne.

Toro Rosso newcomer Brendon Hartley made it into Q2 in back-to-back events, but opted not to post a time in the second phase of qualifying given he will incur a grid penalty for power unit changes.

The New Zealander outpaced teammate Pierre Gasly by six-hundredths of a second to nudge the Frenchman out of Q2 contention. Gasly was also pipped by Sauber’s Pascal Wehrlein in an ultra-close Q1 session.

After being forced to stop in FP3 with a gearbox failure, Williams rookie Lance Stroll was back out on track in his repaired FW40 but could do no better than outpacing the second Sauber of Marcus Ericsson, who was the slowest runner to set a time.

Sunday’s 71-lap Brazilian Grand Prix will begin at 14:00 local time.

Q3 Qualifiers Team / Entry Time Gap Tyre
1. Valtteri Bottas fi Mercedes AMG Petronas F1W08 1:08.322 Pirelli Super Soft
2. Sebastian Vettel de Scuderia Ferrari SF70H 1:08.360 + 0.038 Pirelli Super Soft
3. Kimi Räikkönen fi Scuderia Ferrari SF70H 1:08.538 + 0.216 Pirelli Super Soft
4. Max Verstappen nl Red Bull Racing Tag Heuer RB13 1:08.925 + 0.603 Pirelli Super Soft
5. Daniel Ricciardo au Red Bull Racing Tag Heuer RB13 1:09.330 + 1.008 Pirelli Super Soft
6. Sergio Pérez Sahara Force India Mercedes VJM10 1:09.598 + 1.276 Pirelli Super Soft
7. Fernando Alonso es McLaren-Honda MCL32 1:09.617 + 1.295 Pirelli Super Soft
8. Nico Hülkenberg de Renault Sport F1 Team RS17 1:09.703 + 1.381 Pirelli Super Soft
9. Carlos Sainz Jr es Renault Sport F1 Team RS17 1:09.805 + 1.483 Pirelli Super Soft
10. Felipe Massa br Williams Martini Racing Mercedes FW40 1:09.841 + 1.519 Pirelli Super Soft
Q2 Qualifiers Team / Entry Time Gap** Tyre
11. Esteban Ocon fr Sahara Force India Mercedes VJM10 1:09.830 + 1.336 Pirelli Super Soft
12. Romain Grosjean fr Haas F1 Team Ferrari VF-17 1:09.879 + 1.385 Pirelli Super Soft
13. Stoffel Vandoorne ca McLaren-Honda MCL32 1:10.116 + 1.622 Pirelli Super Soft
14. Kevin Magnussen dk Haas F1 Team Ferrari VF-17 1:10.154 + 1.660 Pirelli Super Soft
15. Brendon Hartley Scuderia Toro Rosso Renault STR12 no time Pirelli Super Soft
Q1 Qualifiers Team / Entry Time Gap* Tyre
16. Pascal Wehrlein de Sauber F1 Team Ferrari C36 1:10.678 + 1.273 Pirelli Super Soft
17. Pierre Gasly fr Scuderia Toro Rosso Renault STR12 1:10.686 + 1.281 Pirelli Super Soft
18. Lance Stroll Williams Martini Racing Mercedes FW40 1:10.776 + 1.371 Pirelli Super Soft
19. Marcus Ericsson se Sauber F1 Team Ferrari C36 1:10.875 + 1.470 Pirelli Super Soft
Outside 107% Team / Entry Time Gap* Tyre
DNQ. Lewis Hamilton uk Mercedes AMG Petronas F1W08 no time Pirelli Super Soft

* Denotes gap to fastest Q1 time of 1:09.405 posted by Kimi Räikkönen
** Denotes gap to fastest Q2 time of 1:08.494 posted by Sebastian Vettel

Post-Qualifying Penalties:

  • Daniel Ricciardo (5th) will serve a 10-place grid penalty for the use of new power unit elements above his car’s allocated limit.
  • Brendon Hartley (15th) will serve a 10-place grid penalty for the use of new power unit elements above his car’s allocated limit.
  • Pierre Gasly (17th) will serve a 25-place grid penalty for the use of new power unit elements above his car’s allocated limit.
  • Lance Stroll (18th) will serve a 5-place grid penalty for the use of a new gearbox.
  • Lewis Hamilton (DNQ) will start the race from the pit lane.

Image via Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team

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Richard Bailey

Founder & Chief Editor at MotorsportM8
Hasn't missed a Grand Prix since 1989. Has a soft spot for Minardi. Tattooed with 35+ Grand Prix circuits.

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