Lewis Hamilton achieved his fifty ninth pole position for the Mexican Grand Prix, while championship rival Nico Rosberg recovered from fourth to take second with his final lap.
Hamilton did a lap time good enough for pole on his first run in the Q3 top ten shootout and was unable to improve on his second attempt.
But Rosberg had the most to do on his second runs, as he was initially only fourth quickest, behind Hamilton and Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo.
With all drivers using super-softs during Q3, Verstappen and Ricciardo were only able to make tiny improvements on their second runs in an attempt to consolidate second and third positions.
Rosberg, who has had a tough weekend, managed to do enough on his final run to jump to second, one tenth faster than Verstappen.
Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg first run in Q3 was enough for fifth position. A solid effort.
Ferrari had a disappointing qualifying, with Kimi Raikkonen unable to improve on his first run time and ending up sixth and Sebastian Vettel moving from eighth to seventh on his final run.
Williams pairing Valtteri Bottas and Felipe Massa were eighth and ninth, with Carlos Sainz completing the top ten.
The Silver Arrows drivers, as well as the two Scuderia Ferrari drivers, will start the Mexican Grand Prix on the soft-compound Pirellis having set their fastest times in Q2 using the slower rubber.
Raikkonen did go out on super-softs in Q2, but did not improve on his soft time.
McLaren driver Fernando Alonso missed out on a place in Q3 by 0.113s seconds to Sainz, and will start P11.
Crowd favourite and hero Sergio Perez was unable to improve his lap time on his second run using super-softs, having set a time ultimately good enough for P12 using the softs.
Jenson Button took P13 for McLaren ahead of Renault’s Kevin Magnussen, Sauber driver Marcus Ericsson and Pascal Wehrlein.
Wehrlein had earlier put in a brilliant last lap on a third run in Q1 to reach Q2.
Haas driver Esteban Gutierrez was fastest of those eliminated in Q1 having spun in the Esses while trying to improve on his final flying lap.
Although he held P16 at the time, Wehrlein’s late effort then bumped him down to P18.
Toro Rosso’s Daniil Kvyat was only able to complete a single four-lap run, reporting a total loss of power and returning to the pits and not running again.
Felipe Nasr was P19 and ahead of the Manor of Esteban Ocon, while Romain Grosjean had a trouble session.
Grosjean was unable to post a lap time on his first run after locking up and going off at Turn 12, before being called back into the pits because he didn’t have enough fuel to do another run.
Although the Haas driver did set a time during a seven-lap run on his second set of super-softs, he was unable to threaten the top 16 and lost time on his final attempt when Gutierrez spun in front of him.
Jolyon Palmer was unable to participate in qualifying after suffering chassis damage from clouting a kerb during the final practice session.
Mexican Grand Prix, qualifying positions:
1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1m18.704s
2 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1m18.958s
3 Max Verstappen Red Bull-Renault 1m19.054s
4 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull-Renault 1m19.133s
5 Nico Hulkenberg Force India-Mercedes 1m19.330s
6 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 1m19.376s
7 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1m19.381s
8 Valtteri Bottas Williams-Mercedes 1m19.551s
9 Felipe Massa Williams-Mercedes 1m20.032s
10 Carlos Sainz Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m20.378s
11 Fernando Alonso McLaren-Honda 1m20.282s
12 Sergio Perez Force India-Mercedes 1m20.287s
13 Jenson Button McLaren-Honda 1m20.673s
14 Kevin Magnussen Renault 1m21.131s
15 Marcus Ericsson Sauber-Ferrari 1m21.536s
16 Pascal Wehrlein Manor-Mercedes 1m21.785s
17 Esteban Gutierrez Haas-Ferrari 1m21.401s
18 Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m21.454s
19 Felipe Nasr Sauber-Ferrari 1m21.692s
20 Esteban Ocon Manor-Mercedes 1m21.881s
21 Romain Grosjean Haas-Ferrari 1m21.916s
22 Jolyon Palmer Renault No time