In his previous 11 visits, Hamilton has won only once and taken pole only twice - a moderate record for arguably the sport's fastest qualifying driver.
While Vettel's incident was the main talking point from Q2, Lewis Hamilton was also involved in a noteworthy incident.
"The team are not going to make that call", he said. For me, probably '09 was the worst -- and my lowest point.
But when it mattered Hamilton just edged him out for his 10th pole of the season.
The drivers were all preparing for their first flying laps and Hamilton suddenly saw the Russian coming up behind him at much higher speed approaching Turn 12. Rain was in the air and Ferrari was hoping to make a quick switch so Vettel could return to the track in dry conditions and set a time quick enough to progress to the top-ten shootout.
That lifted him clear of Sebastian Vettel of Ferrari by nearly one-tenth of a second with his Mercedes team mate Valtteri Bottas, who took pole past year, third ahead of Kimi Raikkonen in the second Ferrari. "It's unfair and I wanted them to hurry up". Renault have found Interlagos' challenging final sector a tough ask this weekend, and they were unable to climb out of Q2 as Hulkenberg could only go 14th fastest, with Williams' Sirotkin finishing up bottom of the pile - although he will move up at least one spot due to Ocon's gearbox penalty.
Ferrari started the session looking to have an edge over Mercedes, but Hamilton prevailed in a hard session that was affected by light rain at various points during the hour, even if the track was dry at the key moments. No investigation into the incident had been launched at the time of writing.
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The ball spun just enough to take the edge and go to Ben Stokes at first slip, who got both hands to it but failed to grab on. Leach (3-60) then bowled Dinesh Chandimal for one, the Sri Lanka captain struggling to move because of a hamstring injury.
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"We don't really want to put him in that position".
"I was making sure I had the gap but then all of a sudden I saw a vehicle coming at high speed and I was like: 'Oh my God".
The Brit also came close to colliding with Kimi Raikkonen as the leading teams became less concerned with times and more about tyres, knowing full well that whatever specification was used to set their quickest lap in Q2 would also be used for the start of Sunday's race.
He beat team-mate Charles Leclerc, who is moving to Ferrari to partner Vettel next season in a swap with Raikkonen, by 0.196secs.
"Obviously with the weather going up and down, and the Ferraris being quick this weekend, I'm going with my engineer to get the vehicle in the best shape". "I tried. The first sector was so good".
Vettel's reprimand is non-driving, and he will be allowed to start from the front row alongside Lewis Hamilton on Sunday.
Hamilton and Vettel provided the main talking points of the session, with the former fortunate to escape the immediate attention of the stewards after almost colliding with the Williams of Russian Sergey Sirotkin in the second phase.