Verstappen edges Vettel in Brazil to seal second career pole
Max Verstappen secured his second career pole position for Sunday’s Brazilian Grand Prix as world champion Lewis Hamilton had to settle for third.
Verstappen turned on the style in his Red Bull to edge out Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel by just 0.123 seconds. Hamilton moved ahead of Charles Leclerc after he improved with his final lap.
Leclerc is due to start 14th following a 10-place grid penalty for an engine change. That promotes Valtteri Bottas to fourth, with Alex Albon fifth.
Verstappen has performed strongly at Interlagos, delivering a wet-weather masterclass three years ago to finish second, and was on course to win here last season before he was taken out of contention by backmarker Esteban Ocon, leading to the Dutchman shoving his rival three times.
On Sunday, he will be in prime position to avenge for last year’s failing, open his winning account in South America, and claim the third win of his campaign as he bids to usurp Ferrari’s Leclerc for third place in the standings, behind the Mercedes duo of Hamilton and Bottas.
Verstappen’s lap was the ideal birthday present for Red Bull team principal Christian Horner, who, on Saturday, turned 46.
“The car was really good,” said Verstappen, who is looking to add to his wins in Germany and Austria this season. “The car was flying and really enjoyable to drive, so I am really happy with this pole position.”
Hamilton, who sealed his sixth world championship in Texas a fortnight ago, added: “Congrats to Max, it was a great lap by him.
“I am really happy I was able to divide the Ferraris which is a tough challenge. I gave it everything I had, and I am glad I delivered my best lap of the session with my final run.”
Hamilton, who finished 0.191 sec behind Verstappen, addressed the crowd on the pit straight, pointing to the Brazilian flag on top of his crash helmet.
“This is such a tough race to win,” he added. The track is very challenging and there is so much history, but I have a lot of support here.”
Lando Norris finished 11th, while Carlos Sainz failed to post a lap after he was sidelined with an engine failure in the sister McLaren.
British rookie George Russell out-qualified Williams team-mate Robert Kubica for the 20th consecutive time. Russell finished half-a-second quicker than Kubica, who will call time on his ill-fated comeback at the concluding round of the season in Abu Dhabi in two weeks’ time.