Formula 1

Nico Rosberg edges Lewis Hamilton to Interlagos pole

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Nico Rosberg will start from pole position for Sunday's Brazilian Grand Prix after a hard fought battle in qualifying.

The German's 1:10.023 edged out team-mate Lewis Hamilton by just three hundredths of a second setting a new record pole time in the process.

Felipe Massa gave his home crowd something to cheer taking third as Williams just faltered at the final hurdle as they gave Mercedes the closest fight for the top spot in some time, with Valtteri Bottas in fourth.

With the high altitude and the long straights at Interlagos, it was Mercedes who again highlighted just how superior their V6 hybrid unit is compared to the rest of the field.

Indeed six of the first seven cars on the grid are powered by the Silver Arrow with Sebastian Vettel's Red Bull the only blemish splitting the two McLaren's in sixth.

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Williams also proved a very worthy threat to their engine supplier with the low drag body seeing them nearly three tenths of a second faster than the works Mercedes along the very long main straight.

This means if they can match Lewis Hamilton or Nico Rosberg through the twisty middle sector, the two championship contenders could be under pressure from Massa and Bottas into the most popular overtaking place into turn one.

Alonso in rare outburst

With all the speculation over the future of Fernando Alonso and Ferrari, Brazil is proving a very interest test of the Spaniard's current relationship with the Scuderia.

His team-mate Kimi Raikkonen is enjoying a much more competitive weekend with the softer tyres being used in Sao Paulo and as part of the huge battle for points in the closing races, let out a rare outburst early in the session.

Alonso was setting his first timed lap of the session when he found the ERS battery, which forms part of the 161bhp boost, was not pre-charged in the garage.

This meant he was underpowered for that first run and around Interlagos, a circuit known as one of the hardest to harvest enough energy to charge the ERS, this was a major disadvantage.

Alonso would recover and eventually qualify eighth, two place ahead of Raikkonen, but to hear the usually calm voice of the two-time champion almost shouting down the radio was a big surprise indeed. 

Red Bull struggles

As is becoming commonplace in these final races, Red Bull found themselves struggling to compete near the front in qualifying.

Obviously the power deficit to Mercedes is a major factor as is the high drag body of the RB10 but with Vettel sixth and Daniel Ricciardo ninth, the former world champions will be hoping for rain in order to make progress on Sunday.

Gutierrez shines in midfield battle

With the top five teams filling the top ten places on the grid, the battle between the four midfield teams was fierce as the bottom eight were formed.

Taking the 11th place slot with be Esteban Gutierrez as, for the second straight weekend, Sauber enjoyed a better qualifying session.

The Mexican led Force India's Nico Hulkenberg as the Silverstone-based team again fell well short of the other Mercedes-powered teams. His team-mate Sergio Perez will start from the back of the grid after being given a seven-place penalty for causing the accident with Adrian Sutil in Austin just behind Daniil Kvyat who will complete the remainder of his engine penalty which carried over from Texas.

Sutil will start 13th ahead of Romain Grosjean, Jean-Eric Vergne and Pastor Maldonado who move up following the various penalties.

Rosberg's last chance?

Looking ahead to Sunday's race and its all about if Nico Rosberg can do what no-one has done since the start of September and beat Lewis Hamilton.

The German hasn't won a race since his home Grand Prix at Hockenheim back in July and in the last few races has come out second best to the Briton in battles at previous races.

For Rosberg though, a victory is all but essential as another second place to Hamilton would mean the 2008 champion would have a repeat scenario to that he faced at Interlagos six years ago and have to finish at least fifth in Abu Dhabi to claim his second world title.

The potential threat of rain and also the Williams mean that it could be far more than just a duel between the two Silver Arrows and as the events of the weekend have already proved, anything can happen in Brazil and it usually does.

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