Qualifying

Hello and welcome to ESPN's live coverage of qualifying for the Brazilian Grand Prix.

Lotus has confirmed it will run #PrayforParis on its car after the awful attacks in Paris last night. This morning Romain Grosjean wore the French tricolour on his arm.

So, what can we expect in this session? The Mercedes drivers have looked very strong on the option tyre over one lap. It's hard to look past a front row lockout and Ferrari may well have one eye on perfecting its race set-up, as it has been much closer to Mercedes over the longer runs.

Williams looked closer to Force India than Ferrari in FP3, the session which usually gives the best indication of how it will do over a weekend.

Romain Grosjean put in a great lap for seventh in FP3. He's out-qualified Pastor Maldonado at all but one race this season, which is a pretty remarkable stat. How he would love a strong result this weekend.

Outside of the top ten it's a bit of a scrap between the non-Mercedes runners. Verstappen and Ricciardo, who is running the Renault upgrade this weekend, finished 10th and 11th. Ricciardo's upgrade saw him finish nearly three tenths up on Kvyat, running in the old Renault.

It's more woe for McLaren at the bottom. Alonso's car is being worked on frantically in the McLaren garage, while the only cars Button could beat in FP3 were the Manors.

Lots of chatter this weekend about Kimi Raikkonen. His future is secure for another season but you can't help but feel his position at the team is weakening with every poor result this season. A strong qualifying performance absolutely vital for him today with Vettel still in very good form.

It's been four pole positions in a row for Nico Rosberg. Can he make it five here? We're about to find out.

Hamilton hasn't been pole since the Italian Grand Prix. I'm sure he's not too fussed about that, though, given that he's already wrapped up the championship. He's also secured the FIA Pole Trophy which was debuted last year.

The clock starts ticking but no-one is in a rush to head straight out on track.

We have lift off! It's Nico Hulkenberg who finally breaks the lull and heads out in his Force India.

Perez also heads out.

Hulkenberg crosses in 1:13.824.

Kvyat goes second, one tenth down on Hulkenberg.

Massa goes top of the leader board briefly, but he's knocked down by young Verstappen's 1:13.107.

Times coming quickly, Bottas goes P1 and Raikkonen finishes 0.169s behind.

Rosberg, already on the soft tyre, curiously, sets a huge 1:11.746. The rest had been setting times on the medium tyre but it's still a huge 1.188s advantage.

Hamilton is also on the soft tyre and he takes P1 from his team-mate by 0.064s. The new time to beat a 1:11.682.

"Stop immediately, stop immediately," is the broadcast radio message and its for Alonso. He has pulled up off the race track at sector two. Oh dear.

I said it yesterday, but Alonso must already be dreaming about 2016. This has been a rotten year from start to finish. You've got to admire his and Button's ongoing optimism but it's hard to see where the team goes from here.

Alonso's car is parked near the barriers so no need for a red flag or extended period of yellow.

Siddhesh says: "I get that Merc want to save the prime tyres for the race, but all 3 sets?! Surely they aren't expecting a 3 stop race!"

This one could be a three-stop race, given how the tyres have behaved this weekend so far.

Replays show Nasr locking up at Turn 11.

Five minutes left and we see a great shot of Alonso sitting on a chair watching the action from the side of the race track.

The five minute mark also marks the end of the momentary lull between runs as there's an almighty burst of cars out on track.

Vettel one of those men to go out.

Most of the guys out I've seen are on the soft tyres, which would make sense at this point.

Hamilton, Rosberg and Bottas all still in the pits. Remember, the bottom five (which is now four with Alonso literally watching on from the sidelines) drop out of this session.

Grosjean and Maldonado haven't set times yet but are on flying laps. Both Force Indias very close to the drop zone too.

Grosjean puts him fourth fastest, 1.3s off the pace. Vettel then goes third... Perez improves to ninth, Kvyat to ninth.

Raikkonen moves into third, 0.05s quicker than Vettel. Hulkenberg and Ricciardo climb into the top six. Grosjean has dropped from third to ninth in no time but Maldonado's disappointing lap means he's 15th and just one place off the drop zone!

Red Bull happy with Ricciardo's lap and call the Australian in to pit.

Massa also in a bit of trouble but on a very nice looking lap... Until he comes up behind Nasr and has to bail out across the kerbs at the hill! He bails out of the lap and that's a bit of a shocker from the Sauber driver. He'll be chatting to the stewards later...

Chequered flag drops...

Button improves but can only improve to 16th ... Ericsson improves enough to jump out of the drop zone to relegate Maldonado out of the session.

Massa looks like he's just got away with it...

Rossi improves on his time again and out-qualifies Stevens in the battle of the Manors. Massa improves on his next lap to 10th so it wasn't as close as I initially thought.

Dropping out - Maldonado, Button, Rossi, Stevens and Alonso.

Shocker for Maldonado - that car has no right being down there.

Alonso, meanwhile, appears to be getting in a bit of sunbathing on the deck chair he's found next to the circuit.

Ah, Alonso is now walking back to the paddock but he looks like he enjoyed his moments in front of the camera.

The stewards have requested to see Nasr and Massa to talk through that moment earlier. Can't imagine that one will end well for Nasr...

The clock is ticking again and Q2 is under way.

Rosberg isn't hanging around - he's the first man out there. Soft tyres all around now.

Hamilton also out there. Mercedes keen to get some early laps in this session. Bottas also on track.

Worth noting the drivers that progress to Q2 will start the race on the tyres used to set their fastest lap in this session - so no point going completely gung-ho on these laps. A fine line needs to be found.

Rosberg sets a 1:12.213 ... Hamilton immediately sets a 1:11.665.

Bottas does a 1:12.661.

Alonso and Button are on the podium waving to the fans.

"Is that fast enough do you think, or shall I try another one?" Rosberg asks. Mercedes tells him he should go for another lap and Rosberg complains "that's a big compromise, come on". Merc changes its mind and he will box.

That message would suggest Rosberg has held something back knowing he'll start on this set of tyres.

Massa will definitely have to go out again as he does a 1:13.781. That's 2.11s off the lead.

Still no sign of either Ferrari.

Replays show Massa having a big slide through Turn 3, perhaps explaining his poor lap earlier.

Times tumbling. Hulkenberg goes third, Perez fifth. Ericsson and Nasr put themselves into the top ten for the time being.

Looks like a lot of the drivers are struggling to find some of the pace they had in Q2.

Ferrari finally send their drivers out.

Raikkonen, Vettel and Ricciardo have the track all to themselves at the moment.

Grosjean sounds upset with himself after an error on his earlier run, which must have forced him to bail out as he's not on the timing screen yet.

Well then. Vettel splits the two Mercedes and is just a two tenths off Hamilton's time.

Raikkonen can't match his team-mate and is 0.578s down on Hamilton's time - about the gap Ferrari had this morning.

Replays show Ricciardo having a real moment on the run up towards Juncao.

And Grosjean spins! That will have chomped his tyres. Looks like it got away from him through Ferradura.

Massa stuck in traffic again, this time the Toro Rosso of Verstappen. He moves up to eighth.

Clock ticks into the final minute so Massa might not feel safe with that lap time.

Bottas goes fifth, seven tenths off the pace.

Nasr climbs out of the top ten briefly...

But he's denied by Verstappen as the Toro Rosso rookie moves up to eighth as the chequered flag falls.

Grosjean can't improve on 15th and shakes his head as he crosses the line.

Hulkenberg improves to sixth ... Can Sainz deny Massa?

No! Sainz improves but only to 12th and he will not progress into the next session.

Grosjean on the radio: "Something happened in the... Yeah, something happened."

Dropping out are Nasr, Sainz, Perez, Ericsson and Grosjean.

I wonder what Mercedes will make of that Vettel lap late on...

Seeing neither Lotus is in Q3 is a big surprise.

Alonso has joked to TV he should take a phone and sun cream with him to Abu Dhabi, so he's better prepared for an engine failure. Also says he asked the medical car if he gets a frequent flier rate...

The Q3 clock is ticking. In 12 minutes we will know who is on pole for tomorrow's race.

Once again, nobody is scrambling to get out there early.

Rosberg heads out from the Mercedes garage.

Hamilton joins his team-mate on the circuit, which is getting busier with Williams preparing to send its drivers out.

Hulkenberg and Bottas also out.

Rosberg sets a 1:11.461, the quickest lap of the weekend so far.

And Hamilton can't quite match his team-mate. He's 0.088s behind so its advantage Rosberg.

Replays show Hamilton locking up and putting a bit of a flat-spot on his tyres.

Vettel getting oversteery through Turn 4.

Bottas crosses seven tenths behind the Mercedes driver.

Vettel locks up at the same point Hamilton did, Bico de Pato, though not quite as heavily.

Vettel goes third, six tenths down on Hamilton. Looks like he was struggling with understeeer throughout that lap but not the tidiest lap the four-time champion has ever done.

Raikkonen can only manage fifth -- eight tenths off the top and two off Vettel.

Ricciardo crosses the line sixth fastest, Massa moves in behind the Australian for seventh. Massa Sr shaking his head in the garage, his son is half a second off Bottas currently.

Remember, Ricciardo has a ten-place penalty to serve with his engine change.

We've got the brief lull now as the drivers prepare for the final flying laps. Has Rosberg done enough?

Bottas also has a penalty to come - three places for a red flag infringement in FP3 - so as it stands Ferrari is locking out the second row. The sun is beaming down on the circuit now.

Two and a half minutes to go and we've got some more action. Bottas manages to get out as Rosberg comes down the pit lane. Verstappen also drives out....

Both Ferraris join the action, as does Hamilton and Massa. The track temperature has climbed from 48 degrees to 50. What impact will that have on lap times at the death?

Raikkonen has complained his car felt "loose" in his first attempt.

Here we go then. Bottas, the first man out, crosses to start a timed lap and immediately has a small lock up into Turn 1.

Purple first sector from Rosberg. He looks good for another pole at the moment...

Two personal bests for Bottas... Rosberg goes purple through the middle sector.

Bottas improves on his time and stays fourth. Rosberg increases his advantage...

And its pole for Rosberg! Hamilton gets within 0.078s but not close enough. Vettel stays third, Raikkonen cannot improve on fifth. Good stuff from Hulkenberg, who qualifies sixth.

"That's awesome," says Rosberg, who thanks his team for the job. Where was this Rosberg before the summer break?

Hamilton's final sector must have been quite something to get pole after two so-so sectors leading up to that. It doesn't matter though - he'll start second.

So Bottas will start seventh, Ricciardo 19th, after both men have served their penalties.

That's all we have time for this afternoon. Please join us again tomorrow for the Brazilian Grand Prix.