Mercedes ace Valtteri Bottas secure the pole position for the Brazilian Grand Prix while team-mate Lewis Hamilton crashed out on his first attempt and will start Sunday’s race from rear end of the grid.
A minute error at Turn One cost Vettel’s pole lap in his final attempt, giving Bottas the chance to sneak in and go faster with a lap of 1:08.322, finishing 0.038 seconds clear at the checkered flag.
Ferrari duo Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen were second and third fastest in qualifying.
Hamilton, who clinched his fourth world championship in Mexico two weeks ago, had been hoping for a 12th pole of the season, but spun into the barrier at turn seven in the opening session.
It looked a simple mistake by Britain’s most successful racing driver of all time, and last year’s winner from pole at Interlagos.
Hamilton will now have to fight back through the field for the second race in a row.
Valtteri Bottas: “I feel good. Still a bit shaky but it’s a good feeling.
“It was so close with Sebastian all through the qualifying but I got a good lap at the end.
“Lewis out in the beginning was a shame for us but I’m glad I could stand up for us and the team.
“It’s really good to start on pole here. We have a good car and it will still be close with Ferrari and I’m looking forward to tomorrow.”
“For sure sometimes it’s been more difficult, sometimes better, but the last few races all the time have been on the up and feeling better and better in the
“We’ve been working hard on the issues we’ve been having, learning loads, and managing to learn from the mistakes and tricky sessions” the Finn added.
Sebastian Vettel: “It’s alright. For tomorrow I think it’s fine but I’d have loved to be ahead.
“I think I chickened out a little bit on the brakes for the final run into Turn One and lost a bit too much time. From there the lap was fine but I knew I had a bit left in the last corner which I got but by then I was too much behind.
“I was happy with my first lap. I think it was OK. Three hundredths you always think there’s somewhere you can get that. Our long run looked good, especially to Valtteri, so let’s see what happens.”
Kimi Raikkonen: “I felt I could have been better but it was a bit tricky to get the tyres to get the right window.
“The last run was better but it wasn’t enough.
“I think we improved the car for today and the weather can change quickly. It will be a long race and we will do our best.”