Nico Rosberg beat team-mate Lewis Hamilton to take his fourth pole position in a row at the Mexican Grand Prix.
The Mercedes pair had been closely matched throughout the weekend, with Rosberg edging Hamilton out in both FP3 on Saturday morning by just 0.014s. And it was Rosberg who pulled out the best lap when he needed it in Q3 on a track low on grip, setting a 1:19.480 to beat Hamilton by nearly 0.2s.
Rosberg's lap came on the second flying lap of the first run in Q3, with both Mercedes drivers improving. One more run followed at the end of the session but none of the top three - with Sebastian Vettel once again third, just 0.3s adrift - were able to better their first attempts. Vettel said over team radio that he had taken more risk but found himself sliding more and losing time.
Daniil Kvyat will start from fourth after continuing a strong weekend by outqualifying team-mate Daniel Ricciardo, with the Williams pair of Valtteri Bottas and Felipe Massa sixth and seventh quickest respectively. There was another impressive performance from Max Verstappen to pull out a good lap for eighth on the grid ahead of home favourite Sergio Perez and Force India team-mate Nico Hulkenberg.
Massa and Verstappen both required late laps to progress as the pair knocked Verstappen's Toro Rosso team-mate Carlos Sainz out by just 0.007s. However, the biggest casualty of the session was Kimi Raikkonen who spun at Turn 1 while still running the medium tyre and ended his session prematurely.
The two Lotus drivers pitted having failed to improve sufficiently, with Romain Grosjean dropping out in 12th place ahead of Pastor Maldonado in 13th, while Marcus Ericsson finished the session 14th having failed to match his impressive Q1 time.
Jenson Button didn't take part in qualifying due to further reliability issues for McLaren-Honda, leaving just four cars to drop out in Q1. One of those was team-mate Fernando Alonso as the McLaren driver missed out by 0.2s despite Grosjean in 15th place making a mistake in the stadium section on his final lap.
With both Manor cars predictably in the drop zone - with Alexander Rossi a quarter of a second quicker than Will Stevens - Felipe Nasr was the other man to drop out as he had a scruffy lap and failed to make it through, despite team-mate Ericsson ending the session in the top ten.
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|04||Daniil Kvyat||Red Bull||1:20.826||1:20.490||1:20.398|
|05||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull||1:21.166||1:20.783||1:20.399|
|08||Max Verstappen||Toro Rosso||1:20.995||1:20.894||1:20.710|
|09||Sergio Perez||Force India||1:20.966||1:20.669||1:20.716|
|10||Nico Hulkenberg||Force India||1:21.315||1:20.935||1:20.788|
|11||Carlos Sainz||Toro Rosso||1:20.960||1:20.942|