Max Verstappen clinched Formula 1 pole for the Brazilian Grand Prix over Charles Leclerc, as the onset of heavy wind, rain, and dark cloud red-flagged the Q3 battle.
The Sao Paulo skyline became increasingly heavy as dark clouds drew over the Interlagos circuit, prompting an early queue for laps as rain looked to be imminent in the opening phase of the session.
When it emerged, the circuit descended into darkness to prompt the throwing of a red flag, as the rain finally came once the opening laps had been concluded.
Verstappen ensured he was at the front of the queue, and set the only time in Q3 below the 1m11s mark as the overall pace had dissipated.
High winds ensured that track conditions became more difficult, and the drivers had to quickly conclude their laps - but nobody could overturn Verstappen's best effort before the cloud came - Oscar Piastri looked to be on course to get close, but instead went off the road at Turn 12.
The session was not resumed and Verstappen's pole was confirmed, as Charles Leclerc collected a front-row start for Sunday's race in Brazil.
Lance Stroll surprised to claim third on Sunday's grid, as Aston Martin timed its runs well; Fernando Alonso collected fourth over the Mercedes of Lewis Hamilton and George Russell.
McLaren left its runs too late and ended up seventh with Q2-topper Lando Norris, as Carlos Sainz, Sergio Perez, and Piastri completed the top 10.
Stroll's 10th-best time in Q2 withstood a late siege from the Haas and Alpine drivers as the Aston Martin driver secured his first Q3 appearance since July's Belgian Grand Prix.
Alonso's vault into the top four from the drop zone put Stroll on the brink, but with two tenths in hand over the drivers occupying the elimination zone.
Having been dumped into the bottom five when Alonso improved, Esteban Ocon attempted to surpass Stroll but was unable to find enough time; instead, he was leapfrogged by Nico Hulkenberg's lap as the German moved up to 11th.
Ocon's Alpine team-mate Pierre Gasly could not improve either, but moved up to 13th ahead of Kevin Magnussen. Alex Albon lost his best lap due to track limits, although this had no effect on his final placing.
Both Alpines are under investigation for impeding on the exit of the pits, having been seen moving slowly in front of the Red Bulls and Yuki Tsunoda's AlphaTauri.
A brief cleaning of the circuit prompted a 15-minute delay to Q1 proceedings, as Pirelli had reported issues with stones and screws on the track surface during FP1.
The threat of rain arriving in the middle of the 18-minute Q1 session prompted a flurry of second runs to cover it off, although the rain had not emerged at this point.
A third phase of laps to get into Q2 had been triggered over the final five minutes, kick-started by Albon breaking into the top four after he had moved out of the drop zone.
With the timing board resembling a slot machine in the final minute, Tsunoda sat on the cusp in 15th as he attempted to improve and pull himself out of danger, but he could not best his previous lap.
This gave Ocon an opportunity to break out of the bottom five and relegate Tsunoda, which the French driver duly managed with a time good enough for 14th.
Tsunoda was 0.006s clear of Daniel Ricciardo as the Australian could not repeat his Mexico qualifying heroics, as Valtteri Bottas also missed the mark in Q1.
Logan Sargeant attempted to join Albon in Q2 and briefly moved into 15th, but was knocked back into the bottom five amid a last-gasp whirlwind of laptime improvements.
The American dropped to 19th, as Zhou Guanyu qualified last - 0.2s down on Sargeant's best lap.
|Driver Info|| |
|1||M. Verstappen Red Bull Racing||1||Red Bull||Red Bull||3|| |
|2||C. Leclerc Ferrari||16||Ferrari||Ferrari||3|| |
|3||L. Stroll Aston Martin Racing||18||Aston Martin||Mercedes||3|| |
|4||F. Alonso Aston Martin Racing||14||Aston Martin||Mercedes||3|| |
|5||L. Hamilton Mercedes||44||Mercedes||Mercedes||3|| |
|6||G. Russell Mercedes||63||Mercedes||Mercedes||3|| |
|7||L. Norris McLaren||4||McLaren||Mercedes||3|| |
|8||C. Sainz Ferrari||55||Ferrari||Ferrari||3|| |
|9||S. Perez Red Bull Racing||11||Red Bull||Red Bull||3|| |
|10||O. Piastri McLaren||81||McLaren||Mercedes||2|| |
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