Lewis Hamilton cheered by Brazilian GP qualifying despite pole wait continuing
World champion to start third at Interlagos behind Verstappen and Vettel; Pleased to qualify between Ferraris but surprised by Red Bull
By James Galloway at Interlagos
Last Updated: 17/11/19 4:50pm
Lewis Hamilton was pleased with his performance after qualifying third for the Brazilian GP - and admitted surprise at just how fast Red Bull were.
Hamilton's wait for a first pole position since July continues after Red Bull's Max Verstappen impressively romped to the fastest time on Saturday, but the new six-time champion was still satisfied with his second-row result around Interlagos.
Despite their double championship triumph, Mercedes have now only claimed one of F1's last nine pole positions - six going to Ferrari and now two to Red Bull - and Hamilton was especially pleased to finish between Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel and Charles Leclerc on the Q3 timesheet.
"Congrats to Max, a great lap by him," said Hamilton, whose final lap moved him ahead of Leclerc and within six hundreths of a second of Vettel's second place.
"We seemed to be quite competitive in P3 and then we seemed to lose in qualifying or they gained.
"Nonetheless I'm really happy I was able to divide the Ferraris, it's always a tough challenge. We've been down on power I guess compared to the others, that's where we lost our time.
"I gave it absolutely everything. My best lap of the session was the last one so, awesome."
And on splitting the Ferraris, Hamilton later added: "It's always nice, it puts a smile on my face."
In any case, a 10-place grid penalty moves Leclerc down the field, with Valtteri Bottas moving into fourth as a result to form an all-Mercedes second row for Sunday's race, which begins at 5.10pm.
Hamilton surprised by Red Bull surge
Red Bull have now topped as many qualifying sessions this season - three, although Verstappen was relegated from pole last month in Mexico for a yellow-flag infringement - as the rest of the six-year hybrid engine combined.
"I heard my team on the radio and they were happy for us being third and that encourages me because I was happy - of course I wanted on pole but it just wasn't a reality," Hamilton told Sky F1.
"We were losing quite a lot on the straights, I don't know where Red Bull's pace came from."
When's the Brazilian GP on Sky?
It's iconic, fast, and often chaotic - and the Brazilian GP is live on Sky Sports F1 this weekend as the 2019 season speeds toward its finish.
But while the Silver Arrows may have had their long-held qualifying crown taken away from them in recent months, the world champions' ace card tends to be the W10's race pace - and Hamilton had looked particularly impressive on high fuel on Friday.
"The long run pace has been good, that's been something that's been quite strong this year," said Hamilton, chasing an 11th victory of the season on Sunday.
"I think it's going to be a struggle for everyone, the track temperature could potentially be 50 degrees which we've not seen all weekend. I've been conscious with that with my setup so hopefully the setup I've got works well tomorrow."
The Mercedes driver spoke on Friday about this weekend and then the season finale in Abu Dhabi representing two "freebies" for him to potentially try out different tactics with the championship now settled.
"My approach is pretty much the same all year long, but maybe we can try and be a bit more aggressive now with these guys," he added after qualifying.