Lando Norris clinched the fastest time in the Formula 1 Brazilian Grand Prix sprint shootout to beat Red Bull pair Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez to pole.
Despite a first sector that was over two tenths slower than the best efforts from the Red Bulls, Norris found time over the rest of the lap to clinch pole position for Saturday's shortened race - albeit with some evident bemusement after feeling that his lap was not particularly special.
McLaren put both cars onto the track first in the SQ3 session, with Oscar Piastri opening the final stage with a 1m11.189s benchmark, but Norris' eventual best put that in the shade.
The Briton endured a nervy wait as the Red Bulls and Mercedes looked far stronger in the opening sector; Verstappen looked to be good value to usurp the McLaren having been up on Norris' split by the end of the second sector, but could not maintain that pace.
Perez was then tracking in first having set the best opening split on his run, but fell behind team-mate Verstappen to collect third place on the sprint grid.
Norris was among a number of drivers who had received summons from the stewards over an alleged failure to follow the stewards' instructions on maximum lap time.
Perez was followed by George Russell and Lewis Hamilton; Russell briefly looked to be a contender for pole having matched Norris' middle sector, but lost four tenths compared to his countryman in the final part of the lap.
Yuki Tsunoda impressed with a run to sixth on the grid, as Charles Leclerc could not deliver anything better than seventh on his sole lap of the session. This nonetheless put him above Daniel Ricciardo, as Carlos Sainz and Piastri completed the top 10.
Mercedes and McLaren had rescued themselves from the drop in SQ2 amid a quickfire flurry of final laps, at the expense of both Haas cars as Kevin Magnussen and Nico Hulkenberg had been well among the mix after the opening attempt.
Both AlphaTauris, along with Valtteri Bottas and Pierre Gasly, had decided to wait until the end to post their first and only laps of the session; Bottas had elevated himself into the top 10 at the expense of Russell.
But this preceded a number of improvements; Tsunoda and Ricciardo fired themselves well into the top 10 order - Ricciardo moving up to second for a brief spell - to push Hamilton and Norris into the bottom five.
The brace of Mercedes cars managed to extricate themselves from trouble despite setting not particularly competitive first sectors, as Norris also did so with a flourish as he placed himself on top of the pile.
Magnussen beat Hulkenberg by 0.025s to claim 11th on the sprint grid, while Gasly and Bottas were shuffled down to 13th and 14th.
The opening sprint qualifying stage had been brought to a premature end as Esteban Ocon clashed with Alonso at the Curva do Sol, which pitched the Alpine driver into the wall having started his final lap of the opening 12 minutes.
Ocon had been dumped into the drop zone and was gearing up to reverse that as the session entered its final minute, but suffered a snap of oversteer and careened into a slow-moving Alonso - who had peeled off the racing line to give Ocon room to pass.
Alonso had sustained too much damage in the impact, which precluded any running in SQ2 to consign him to an early exit.
The incident produced a red flag which froze the other, leaving Friday's qualifying star Lance Stroll stranded in 17th for the sprint grid having been unable to improve on his second attempt at a lap.
Zhou Guanyu was also eliminated at the first stage, while Alex Albon's attempt to break out of the bottom five was put on ice by the early conclusion to the session. Logan Sargeant was last of the runners, although felt that he had been impeded by a Haas during his second attempt.
|Driver Info|| |
|1||L. Norris McLaren||4||McLaren||Mercedes||15|| |
|2||M. Verstappen Red Bull Racing||1||Red Bull||Red Bull||16|| |
|3||S. Perez Red Bull Racing||11||Red Bull||Red Bull||16|| |
|4||G. Russell Mercedes||63||Mercedes||Mercedes||14|| |
|5||L. Hamilton Mercedes||44||Mercedes||Mercedes||14|| |
|6||Y. Tsunoda AlphaTauri||22||AlphaTauri||Red Bull||12|| |
|7||C. Leclerc Ferrari||16||Ferrari||Ferrari||15|| |
|8||D. Ricciardo AlphaTauri||3||AlphaTauri||Red Bull||11|| |
|9||C. Sainz Ferrari||55||Ferrari||Ferrari||13|| |
|10||O. Piastri McLaren||81||McLaren||Mercedes||14|| |
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