A week on following the championship battle at Austin, Nico Rosberg strikes back with a strong performance in the Mexican Grand Prix to claim pole.
The Mercedes driver achieved his fourth successive pole, beating the new champion Lewis Hamilton by 0.188 seconds.
Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel was 0.370 seconds adrift of Rosberg in third, claiming over team radio he “tried everything” to take the fight to the Silver Arrows.
Red Bull lost pace to its rivals in qualifying compared to practice, both cars ending up nearly a second adrift of the top spot.
Daniil Kvyat beat team-mate Daniel Ricciardo by just a tiny margin of one thousandth of a second as the RB11s placed fourth and fifth on the timesheet.
Valtteri Bottas rounded out the top six, just ahead of Williams team-mate Felipe Massa and the Toro Rosso of Max Verstappen.
Mexican hero Sergio Perez out-qualified team-mate Nico Hulkenberg by less than a tenth of a second as the Force Indias completed the top ten.
Late improvements by Verstappen and Massa in Q2 meant Carlos Sainz Jr missed out on making the pole position shootout by just 0.007 seconds in the other Toro Rosso.
Romain Grosjean was P12, 0.223 seconds faster than Lotus team-mate Pastor Maldonado and just over a tenth away from making Q3 himself.
Marcus Ericsson couldn’t replicate the pace that put his Sauber tenth quickest in Q1, so he wound up P14 overall, ahead of the Ferrari of Kimi Raikkonen.
The Iceman complained of a problem with his brake pedal in Q1, where he ended up outside the top ten in the times.
He then stopped midway through Q2 after spinning at Turn 1.
The 2007 world champion will incur a five-place grid penalty for a gearbox change following the breakdown he suffered with his SF15-T in final practice.
Fellow world champion Fernando Alonso squeaked ahead of the Sauber of Felipe Nasr by 0.009 seconds with his final flying lap.
Unfortunately the McLaren failed to escape Q1, along with the Manor Marussias and his team-mate Jenson Button, which failed to take part in session following engine problems in final practice.
Both McLaren-Hondas will start at the back on account of incurring grid penalties for multiple engine changes earlier in the Mexican Grand Prix weekend.
Qualifying positions, Mexican Grand Prix:
1 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1m19.480s
2 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1m19.668s
3 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1m19.850s
4 Daniil Kvyat Red Bull-Renault 1m20.398s
5 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull-Renault 1m20.399s
6 Valtteri Bottas Williams-Mercedes 1m20.448s
7 Felipe Massa Williams-Mercedes 1m20.567s
8 Max Verstappen Toro Rosso-Renault 1m20.710s
9 Sergio Perez Force India-Mercedes 1m20.716s
10 Nico Hulkenberg Force India-Mercedes 1m20.788s
11 Carlos Sainz Toro Rosso-Renault 1m20.942s
12 Romain Grosjean Lotus-Mercedes 1m21.038s
13 Pastor Maldonado Lotus-Mercedes 1m21.261s
14 Marcus Ericsson Sauber-Ferrari 1m21.544s
15 Felipe Nasr Sauber-Ferrari 1m21.788s
16 Alexander Rossi Marussia-Ferrari 1m24.136s
17 Will Stevens Marussia-Ferrari 1m24.386s
18 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 1m22.494s
19 Fernando Alonso McLaren-Honda 1m21.779s
20 Jenson Button McLaren-Honda No time