Lewis Hamilton recorded his sixty career pole position in Formula 1 with an important qualifying session at the Brazilian Grand Prix.
Championship rival Nico Rosberg put on a brave fight to wrestle that pole from his Mercedes team-mate but had to settle for second place.
With rain threatening, but never arriving beyond a few spots, throughout qualifying, Hamilton had the advantage after the first runs in Q3.
While Rosberg did make a small improvement on his second run, Hamilton was fast enough to defend top position – with his pace in the long middle sector particularly strong.
Kimi Raikkonen capitalised on the Red Bull drivers and Ferrari team-mate Sebastian Vettel failing to improve on their second runs to jump to third late on, 0.668 seconds off pole.
Max Verstappen shaded Vettel for fourth by just a hundredth of a second, complaining about losing rear grip mid-way through his second flying lap, with Ricciardo aborting his final quick lap in the middle sector and not able to do better than sixth.
After qualifying last in Mexico, Romain Grosjean equalled the Haas team’s best grid position of the season as he went seventh fastest.
Nico Hulkenberg had the edge in the Force India battle, lapping half-a-tenth quicker than team-mate Sergio Perez, with the pair in eighth and ninth place.
McLaren-Honda returned to Q3 after a three-race absence, Fernando Alonso ending up tenth.
Williams pairing Valtteri Bottas and Felipe Massa were both eliminated in a late flurry of improvements in Q2 as some spots of rain fell.
Bottas missed out on the top ten by just 0.060 seconds to Hulkenberg, while Massa had a poor first run then was unable to make a big enough improvement to do better than P13.
The Williams cars sandwiched the Haas of Esteban Gutierrez, with the Toro Rossos of Daniil Kvyat and Carlos Sainz P14 and P15, and Renault driver Jolyon Palmer P16 after several lock ups on his only Q2 lap on fresh rubber.
Jenson Button was the highest-profile casualty in Q1 in P17, lapping almost six tenths slower than team-mate Alonso and complaining of a lack of front grip having failed to improve his time on his second attempt.
Kevin Magnussen did improve on his second run having been slowest on the first, but that was only good enough to jump up to P19, ahead of the Manors of Pascal Wehrlein and Esteban Ocon.
Ocon complained about Wehrlein holding him up on his final run, while Wehrlein complained about being overtaken by his team-mate.
But Ocon was the only driver to get in trouble with the stewards, who will investigate whether or not he impeded Palmer as the Descida do Lago downhill left-hander during the session.
Sauber drivers Marcus Ericsson and Felipe Nasr take the back row, with the former finding a bigger improvement on his second run to jump ahead of his team-mate by just 0.058 seconds having earlier been over three tenths slower.
Nasr complained about traffic during his second run, although he was still able to improve on his first-run time by over four tenths.
Brazilian Grand Prix, qualifying positions:
1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1m10.736s
2 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1m10.838s
3 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 1m11.404s
4 Max Verstappen Red Bull-Renault 1m11.485s
5 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1m11.495s
6 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull-Renault 1m11.540s
7 Romain Grosjean Haas-Ferrari 1m11.937s
8 Nico Hulkenberg Force India-Mercedes 1m12.104s
9 Sergio Perez Force India-Mercedes 1m12.165s
10 Fernando Alonso McLaren-Honda 1m12.266s
11 Valtteri Bottas Williams-Mercedes 1m12.420s
12 Esteban Gutierrez Haas-Ferrari 1m12.431s
13 Felipe Massa Williams-Mercedes 1m12.521s
14 Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m12.726s
15 Carlos Sainz Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m12.920s
16 Jolyon Palmer Renault 1m13.258s
17 Jenson Button McLaren-Honda 1m13.276s
18 Kevin Magnussen Renault 1m13.410s
19 Pascal Wehrlein Manor-Mercedes 1m13.427s
20 Esteban Ocon Manor-Mercedes 1m13.432s
21 Marcus Ericsson Sauber-Ferrari 1m13.623s
22 Felipe Nasr Sauber-Ferrari 1m13.681s