Lewis Hamilton of Mercedes-AMG took a milestone 100th pole position for his team in qualifying at the 2018 Brazilian Grand Prix.
Hamilton’s pole was the first of his career to be achieved in-season after winning the championship with multiple races to go, and could turn into his first Grand Prix win of the same kind—he won no races after taking the title early in 2015 and 2017. If Hamilton comes home first on Sunday, his team will be seven points from locking down another Constructors’ Championship, and that’s before considering the points available to Hamilton’s teammate Valtteri Bottas, who qualified third alongside compatriot Kimi Räikkönen.
Hamilton shares the front row with Sebastian Vettel, but both face potential penalties from the stewards. The Brit had to dodge both Sergey Sirotkin and Räikkönen in Q2, both times evading his approaching opponent by moving to the inside, but both times the pursuing car moved further inside. Vettel may face trouble for breaking the scale on which cars have their weight verified, as he neglected to turn off his engine on the bridge, ruining the result, before pulling away under his own power.
Both Red Bull Racing drivers follow the silver-red columns that will lead the start of the race, though Daniel Ricciardo faces grid penalties for installation of a new engine component. Fire marshals responding to Ricciardo’s burning Red Bull RB14 at the Mexican Grand Prix sprayed fire-retardant foam up the exhaust by accident, ruining the Renault engine’s turbocharger.
Leading the midfield is Alfa Romeo Sauber driver (soon to be IndyCar driver) Marcus Ericsson, who out-qualified his Ferrari-bound teammate Charles Leclerc. Leclerc laid down an impressive time on slick tires in a rainy Q2, improving enough to earn a Q3 appearance, and knocking out Kevin Magnussen of Haas, who had to watch his teammate Romain Grosjean qualify just behind Leclerc. Pierre Gasly of Toro Rosso-Honda rounded out the bottom ten, his own teammate and birthday boy (29-years-old) Brendon Hartley faltering in Q1.
Fernando Alonso qualified P18 for his final Brazilian Grand Prix, making for only his second start outside the top 10 in Brazil in his career. His prior start outside the top 10 was in 2015 when his McLaren MP4-30 breathed its last before a time could be set in Q1. The Spaniard out-qualified his teammate Stoffel Vandoorne (starting last) for the 25th straight Grand Prix.
A full list of qualifying times and margins of improvement year-over-year can be found below.
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