SAO PAULO LEWIS HAMILTON won the pole position for the seasonending Brazilian Grand Prix on Saturday, while Formula One leader Sebastian Vettel will start fourth and title challenger Fernando Alonso only eighth.
Hamilton set a lap of 1 minute, 12.458 seconds with his McLaren at Interlagos, just .055 in front of teammate Jenson Button.
Vettel’s Red Bull teammate Mark Webber will start third after a lap of 1:12.581, with Vettel behind him with a run of 1:12.760.
Ferrari’s Felipe Massa was fifth after clocking 1:12.987, while teammate Alonso only managed a lap of 1:13.253, hurting his chances of overtaking Vettel for the championship.
Vettel needs to finish fourth or better on Sunday to become F1’s youngest threetime champion at age 25.
Alonso, also seeking his third title, needs at least a podium finish to have any chance of overcoming the 13-point deficit he has to Vettel.
Hamilton, who won the 2008 championship at Interlagos, will be driving his last race with McLaren before joining Mercedes next season.
He is coming off a victory at the United States GP last week.
McLaren has been strong all weekend and seems set to play a role at the title showdown between Vettel and Alonso.
Hamilton led the practice times on Friday and Button did the same earlier on Saturday. Vettel was always close behind the McLarens while Alonso was well behind the pace.
Drivers had faced very warm temperatures during practice but the temperatures dropped significantly for qualifying.
It started raining about half an hour before the timed session but it stopped by the time the cars hit the track. The top teams waited several minutes to get out to avoid the slippery conditions at the tricky 4.3-kilometer track in South America’s biggest city.
Michael Schumacher, preparing for his final race before retiring on Sunday, couldn’t do much with Mercedes and will start only 14th.