Vettel fined after bizarre qualifying
LEWIS Hamilton wrapped up his 10th pole of the season to edge out main rival Sebastian Vettel in the Brazilian Grand Prix
They will start from the front row but drivers were involved in controversial incidents in a bizarre qualifying session.
Vettel was placed under investigation by the stewards for an incident in Q2 - he was accused of ignoring instructions at the weighbridge and breaking the scales that weigh the cars.
The Ferrari driver has found himself in hot water with authorities on several occasions this year amid his ultimately failed title challenge - and the weighbridge moment in represented the most unusual yet.
After completing his first lap amid lightly falling rain in Q2, Vettel was asked to stop at the weighbridge as he returned to the pits so FIA officials could carry out a random check.
But Vettel was said to have "refused to turn off the engine" and driving on to the scales with his car's engine still running contravened the regulations.
The FIA said he then drove off under his own power, which "destroyed the scales" and "further compromised the continuation of the weighing procedure".
The German was also seen clapping his hands in an apparent attempt to get officials to hurry up.
"They shouldn't call us, when the conditions are changing like that I think it's unfair if somebody is pulled in," Vettel said after qualifying before visiting the stewards.
"I wanted them to hurry up."
Luckily for Vettel, he was fined €25,000 ($A40,000) instead of copping a grid penalty.
Hamilton was also lucky to avoid any penalty after his own strange moment with Williams driver Sergey Sirotkin, who was forced to swerve off the track as he tried to pass Hamilton's Mercedes.
But the Englishman, who said the Russian driver was also on a warm-up lap, was perplexed and unimpressed as to why Sirotkin tried to overtake him.
"As far as I knew no one behind was on a (fast) lap so I was making sure I had a gap, then all of a sudden out of turn 11 I saw a car coming," Hamilton said.
"I thought someone might have been on a lap so I went to the left and that's where he decided to go. But he wasn't on a lap so I don't really know what his thinking was.
"Between all the drivers, we all know to keep our space by that point so it was generally quite a disrespectful move."
The stewards decided not to investigate the action any further.
On the track in Q3, F1's newly crowned five-time champion beat Vettel by 0.093sec to stay true to his word that he would go all out for victory to help Mercedes clinch the Constructors' Championship with a race to spare on Sunday.
"That was some qualifying session," a jubilant Hamilton said. "It's been so close this weekend, it took a special lap and I didn't make any mistakes."
Valtteri Bottas was third in the other Mercedes, with Kimi Raikkonen fourth in the second Ferrari.
After a front-row lockout in Mexico, Red Bull took a back seat at Interlagos with Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo split by a scant 0.002sed in fifth and sixth places respectively.
But Ricciardo will slip back to 11th place owing to a five-place penalty after his Red Bull team replaced the turbocharger on his car's power unit.
Speaking on Friday about the penalty, Ricciardo's Red Bull team principal Christian Horner said the problem was a consequence of Ricciardo's retirement at the previous race in Mexico and the local marshals' use of a fire extinguisher.
"You can't really blame them, the car was obviously smoking," Horner told Sky. "But they shot foam up the exhaust and as it solidifies in the turbo, it's terminated it.
"He'll take a five place penalty but hopefully on a track like this it's not actually that big a penalty."
Sauber, meanwhile, enjoyed a stunning day as their two cars headed the midfield - with Marcus Ericsson securing a career-best seventh place to outpace in-form teammate Charles Leclerc.
"I can't wait to see that kid in a Ferrari next year," said Sky F1's Martin Brundle. "That was sensational from Leclerc."
Sauber were joined in the top 10 by the lead Haas of Romain Grosjean, who was ninth, and Toro Rosso's Pierre Gasly, who impressively took his Honda-powered car to 10th.
1) Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes)
2) Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari)
3) Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes)
4) Kimi Raikkonen (Ferrari)
5) Max Verstappen (Red Bull)
6) Marcus Ericsson (Sauber)
7) Charles Leclerc (Sauber)
8) Romain Grosjean (Haas)
9) Pierre Gasly (Toro Rosso)
10) Kevin Magnussen (Haas)
11) * Daniel Ricciardo (Red Bull)
12) Sergio Perez (Force India)
13) Nico Hulkenberg (Renault)
14) Sergey Sirotkin (Williams)
15) Carlos Sainz (Renault)
16) Brendon Hartley (Toro Rosso)
17) Fernando Alonso (McLaren)
18) * Esteban Ocon (Force India)
19) Lance Stroll (Williams)
20) Stoffel Vandoorne (McLaren)
* 5-place grid penalty
- with Reuters