Hamilton on pole in Brazil, Vettel summoned to stewards

To underline Ferrari's challenge, Vettel is the driver with the best current record in Brazil with three wins, including last year's race, and a determination to finish his season on a high.

"They shouldn't call us when the conditions are changing like that", Vettel told Sky F1.

The year started with great hope for the Woking marque after they pushed through a divorce from Honda to team up with Renault power.

"I didn't know whether or not I had the pole".

"I was making sure I had the gap but then all of a sudden I saw a auto coming at high speed and was like 'oh my God, is that someone coming on a lap?' So I went left, but he was going left".

The Sauber-bound Finn conceded that Ferrari are not in a strong position - they trail Mercedes by 55 points in the constructors' standings with two races to go - but made it clear they will not be giving up.

"I think we got the auto where it is happiest, and the balance was good in qualifying throughout, so we'll see".

Given the speed at which Sirotkin approached Hamilton's Mercedes, the initial evidence suggested the Williams driver was on a flying lap, and Hamilton was caught napping.

Vettel was pleased with his qualifying performance though, which will see him start the race just behind pole-sitter Lewis Hamilton.

Ferrari started the session looking to have an edge over Mercedes, but Hamilton prevailed in a hard session that was affected by light rain at various points during the hour, even if the track was dry at the key moments. "We didn't really know what to expect", the 33-year-old said while still on the track. Horner said it had been damaged in Mexico by a marshal spraying foam on the auto after he retired from the race.

Haas were best of the rest in the morning, with Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen seventh and eighth.

British teenager Lando Norris, another 2019 rookie, was also on track in Fernando Alonso's McLaren for the first session and was faster on the quicker soft tyres than the team's departing Belgian Stoffel Vandoorne on mediums.

Because he turned the engine off, Vettel did not actually break the wording of the sporting regulations surrounding the weighbridge and, therefore, did not receive a sporting penalty.

"We have done a lot of work to make sure the auto is in the best way we could".

Reflecting on Q3, Vettel said: "In the end I had a tiny lock up in Turn 8, I had a good start in the second attempt in Q3 but then it was a little bit too much so lost some time and didn't improve".

"Obviously, the last race was a tough one to swallow and probably the winter will be as well", said the four-time world champion.

  • Angelo Rivera