Lewis Hamilton tops Sao Paulo Grand Prix Friday qualifying

Lewis Hamilton won the Sprint qualifying race at Sao Paulo Grand Prix, beating title rival Max Verstappen's Red Bull.
Hamilton, who is in fifth place on Sunday's grid, was untouchable for one lap, 0.43 seconds faster than Verstappen.

Verstappen was able to beat Hamilton's Mercedes teammate Valtteri bottas to third.

The sprint winner gets three points, which determines the grid for grand prix.

Hamilton's goal is to win the sprint to earn three points for victory and to start sixth in Sunday's grand prix.

Hamilton is leading Verstappen by 19 points, with Hamilton having a maximum score of 107 points over the four remaining races.

After two consecutive wins for Verstappen, Hamilton had a slight pace advantage. The drivers were disputing starting positions for Saturday's "sprint" race. It was a shorter race than a grand prix and about one-third of the distance.

Mercedes was on pole in Mexico last week, but this was due to Red Bull's inability to get their tyres in a good working window and not any lack of speed. Verstappen won the race.

Hamilton, a seven-time champion, said that it was a good qualifying session. It is a great feeling. We pay the penalty, but we are happy with it."

Verstappen stated that he believed at least part of the explanation would come from his rival's new engine. Mercedes has fitted Hamilton's fifth engine to the car with the fifth engine of this season, which is two more than the allowed for the season.

Verstappen stated that "when they take a new motor, they have a little more power for weekends so it is not a shock for me." "I'm happy to be second, it is a good place to start from. While it is nice to be close, sometimes you just have to accept what you get.

Mercedes has been having a reliability issue with their engine since midseason. They have had to increase the allowance with both drivers in order to have enough engines to compete at the end of the season.

Bottas beat Verstappen's colleague Sergio Perez by 0.15secs to lead second row. Pierre Gasly placed the Alpha Tauri fifth for second consecutive race.

Carlos Sainz was the Ferrari teammate with Charles Leclerc. He finished ahead of the McLarens Daniel Ricciardo and Lando Norris, while Fernando Alonso's Alpine completed the top 10.

At the back, George Russell was outqualified by Williams teammate Nicholas Latifi. The Canadian took 17th place, just 0.06secs ahead the Briton who was 18.

Russell stated, "Just couldn’t get the tyres and the car to work. It was not something I could feel. Nicholas was a great lap ahead of me.

"As a team, we are quite off the pace this weekend. We haven't been in Q2 for 19 races, so it is time to get back on track. We don't know much about the car's pace in the last races.