Qualifying

Hello and welcome to ESPN's live coverage of qualifying from the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez.

If practice was anything to go by, the slippery nature of this track should make for a very close qualifying this afternoon.

Why is Red Bull so quick around here despite its two long straights? Two reasons. One is the high downforce set-up on its car through the middle and final sector, with the slippery conditions of the race track playing into their hands.

Some early news for you - Button out of qualifying after his problems in FP3.

The McLaren driver was going to start on the back row anyway with a 50-place grid penalty hanging over his head for multiple power unit changes.

Going back to the downforce point from earlier, Rosberg said yesterday Mercedes had Monaco-levels of downforce here but it was only acting as if it were Monza downforce due to the high altitude.

I meant over 2,000m above sea level earlier, not 7,000m. That would be a different race entirely...

Recap from FP3. Rosberg was top by 0.067s but the top four were split by just two tenths.

Five minutes until the start of Q1.

Perez sits in his Force India cockpit, eyes shut. A big afternoon ahead of him, he's looked very good this weekend so far.

Green light goes on and Q1 is on.

Busy track in these early moments. Perez one of the early runners.

Perez gets a huge ovation as he comes through the stadium section. It's only his out-lap.

Verstappen sets a 1:23.680 to take the provisional lead of the session, but is immediately knocked down by Nasr's 1:23.400.

Bottas goes P1 with a 1:22.622.

Sainz puts himself third in the Toro Rosso, one place ahead of Perez.

Hamilton goes purple in all three sectors to go P1 - over a second quicker than Bottas with a 1:21.397.

Rosberg is two tenths slower than his team-mate, but that's good enough for P2.

Can't fault this circuit for atmosphere. With the quieter V6 turbos you can hear how much noise the fans are making already.

Ericsson moves into third on the soft tyre.

Rosberg leapfrogs Hamilton with a 1:21.140 - a lap two tenths quicker than Hamilton. Bottas improves on his best mark but is still a full half second behind Rosberg.

"Thanks to all the guys, good job to get the car ready for qualifying," Raikkonen says. His engine caught fire this morning -- he'll be due a five-place penalty if they've changed that gearbox.

It's 100 races since Kimi took a pole position...

Hamilton goes faster than Rosberg with a 1:20.995, the quickest lap we've seen all weekend. Bottas improves again and is now within three tenths of the lead Mercedes.

Ricciardo goes third fastest, setting a 20.981 in the final sector in the process. He's four tenths behind Hamilton.

Vettel hitting 352km/h down the start/finish straight.

Kvyat splits the Mercedes drivers with a 1:21.127 - still three tenths behind Hamilton.

Still no times from Stevens or Grosjean. Button out of the session.

Rosberg has bolted on a set of soft tyres.

Grosjean's first time of the session, on soft tyres, is good enough for seventh, 1.5s off the pace.

Verstappen improves to sixth.

Vettel goes purple in the second and third sector to climb into first -- he's on the soft tyre. Hamilton yet to go out there on the soft tyre.

Hamilton the only man (other than Button) in the garage. Is he going to risk not doing a lap on the softer compound?

Ricciardo returns to the pits.

Perez improves to fifth fastest, four tenths off the pace. Verstappen improves again but stays sixth.

Alonso's soft tyre lap sees him move up to 16th, not enough to escape the drop-zone.

Rosberg goes P1 with a 1:20.436, on the soft tyre. Hamilton three tenths slower on the medium tyre -- some interesting data to be gathered over which is the better race tyre.

Nasr, Alonso, Rossi and Stevens in the drop zone currently.

Verstappen reports Kvyat holding him up in the first two corners. The track is pretty busy out there so traffic is always going to be a problem.

Grosjean locks up into the final sector as we see Rosberg taking to the grass during the Esses to not obstruct another car.

Alonso finishes his latest lap and can't improve on 16th. With McLaren already set for hefty grid penalties this weekend they've been focused on race set-up in practice.

Stevens improves on his time but not enough to out-qualify Stevens.

The flag drops and Alonso, Nasr, Rossi, Stevens and Button (who did not compete in the session) drop out. Button will be allowed to race, of course, as he was within 107% in practice.

Hamilton the only driver to save a set of soft tyres for later in qualifying but race radio suggests Rosberg was keen for a few more laps to understand the soft tyres.

Another replay of Nasr locking up in the stadium section and he's taken a big chunk out of his front right tyre.

So, will saving a set of softs prove crucial in the battle for pole later? Hamilton will certainly be happy with how qualifying is shaping up at the moment.

The clock starts ticking again and Q2 is under way. Maldonado the first man to join the track.

Remember, those that make it into Q3 will start tomorrow's race on the tyres they set their quickest lap in this session.

Excited to see what Verstappen can do in this session - if he's in Q3 later he could well spring a surprise.

Verstappen goes P1 with a 1:21.184 but Ricciardo immediately replaces him....

Before Hamilton goes P1 with a 1:20.129. Kvyat jumps in behind Hamilton, five tenths down.

Henrik says: "In the trickiest track conditions of the year, Ericsson manages 10th beating luminaries such as Hülkenberg, Massa, Raikkönen, both Lotuses as well as his lauded team mate by a massive margin AND NOT A WORD from you! Bad, bad, bad..."

A fair point, wasn't intentionally missed out!

Perez and Hulkenberg looking strong in fifth and sixth early on.

Bottas jumps ahead of both Force Indias but he's still nearly a nine tenths off the pace.

Kvyat goes third, 0.661s off the pace.

Massa can only manage ninth.

Raikkonen on the medium tyres and crosses in 12th, 2.665s off Hamilton's time.

Raikkonen then spins at Turn 1, which won't help that set of tyres any. Replays look odd, just seems to lose the rear under braking and the DRS has already closed.

"Had some issue on the brakes," Raikkonen tells Ferrari.

Still no laps from Vettel, Sainz or Ericsson. All three are on track with Maldonado though.

Vettel starts his first flying lap of Q2.

Worth noting Hamilton's current time dropped into the 1:19s Pirelli was talking about ahead of this weekend.

Less than five minutes remaining and Raikkonen is back into the pits having reported that brake problem earlier on.

Vettel splits the Mercedes drivers, 0.216s off Hamilton.

The other Ferrari driver is out of the car and walking down the pit lane. That looks to be his session over.

Amusing radio message from Ericsson, seemingly apologising for a bad lap. Response is "Try to use the new tyre grip in all engineers". Pretty sure he already knew that.

Two minutes left.

Hamilton reporting a few spots of rain...

That could be bad news for those currently on the drivers in the drop zone.

Verstappen and Massa currently in trouble. Maldonado and Ericsson also in the drop zone.

Maldonado crosses and goes 13th... HUlkenberg can't improve on his best and stays eighth. Bottas moves up to fourth.

We've got a slow-moving Grosjean coming down the pit lane ... looks like he's bailed out. He's tenth and in a lot of trouble as the flag drops.

And he's out! Verstappen climbs to eighth despite a big snap coming through the final curve.

Massa goes sixth fastest to drop Sainz into the bottom five!

Ericsson also unable to improve on his time. Seemed he was struggling with grip earlier.

Verstappen told "very good job" and it was -- he was clearly struggling for grip in the final sector but still just managed to scrape through.

Sainz, Grosjean, Maldonado, Ericsson and Raikkonen out of the session.

A front row lockout isn't a certainty for Mercedes here. Ferrari and Red Bull lingering and grip will continue to be an issue in Q3.

Red Bull getting a double boost from its strong RB11 chassis in sectors two and three but also the high altitude, which is helping the Renault turbo.

Hamilton the first man to the end of the pit lane for the start of Q3.

Rosberg lines up behind the new three-time world champion as the clock goes green. Off they go - there's a train of five cars behind Hamilton.

The rain seems to have stopped, but the fact Mercedes went straight out suggests they think it could come back before the end of Q3.

The reason for that being if it does rain, the track is (theoretically) in its best condition currently.

Everyone bar the Force Indias out there at the moment.

Hamilton locks up in the stadium section.

Hamilton sets a 1:20.120...

But Rosberg immediately sets a 1:19.690. That's half a second quicker than Hamilton. Impressive from the German.

Verstappen goes P3, before Kvyat replaces the Toro Rosso man. Kvyat nine tenths off the lead.

Key here could be being the last man across the line as this circuit continues to evolve.

These second laps are the ones we expect to be quickest and Rosberg is on another blinder.

Hamilton sets a 1:19.668....

But Rosberg again goes quicker, though this time by two tenths rather than five.

Bottas crosses in third, nine tenths off Rosberg. Massa slots in behind and at the moment its a second row qualifying so far...

But that only lasts a moment as Vettel leaps ahead of both of them for third. He's three tenths off the Mercedes drivers.

Mercedes calls Hamilton in for a fresh set of softs.

Vettel backs off immediately, suggesting he'll return to the pits or he's harvesting some energy for another lap.

Kvyat looking very impressive around here and goes fourth, 0.918s off the lead.

Replays show Rosberg having to lock up heavily to slow down in time for the pit lane.

Verstappen and Ricciardo the only men out on track.

Ricciardo improves to fifth and is just 0.001s behind team-mate Kvyat.

All ten drivers on track. Verstappen can't improve on his eighth position.

Hamilton appears to be taking it easy on this lap, and sector times suggest Rosberg is as well. One final attempt for pole from those two.

One minute left as Hulkenberg crosses the line. He is yet to set a representative time - he's currently four seconds off the pace so must have had some trouble somewhere.

Perez crosses to start his first proper lap as the clock ticks past 30 seconds. All the drivers opting for one final flyer on the soft tyres at the end of this session.

Hulkenberg aggressively muscling that car around the circuit but stays ninth - 1.3s off the pace.

Chequered flag is out and Hamilton has not improved...

Kvyat doesn't improve....

Perez beats Hulkenberg to ninth.

Vettel can't improve on third so that's it - Rosberg leads a Mercedes one-two in qualifying. That's four poles in a row for the German.

Replays show Hamilton running wide at the start of the stadium section. Don't think he was up on Rosberg's time at that point though.

That run down to Turn 1 is going to be pretty interesting, then... Rosberg v Hamilton Part 380.

Mercedes will be nervy about that because I doubt Rosberg is going to give Hamilton an inch... and I doubt Hamilton is going to give Rosberg an inch either. Not a bad race to be on the second row, I'd suggest.

Hamilton returns to parc ferme and waves to the crowd. There might be some questions for Force India and whether they should have sent their drivers out earlier, though it seemed at least one of their cars was in pieces at the start of Q3.

Vettel having a good old look at the back of the Mercedes. Time to get the sketchpad out, Seb.

Breaking news: Rosberg and Hamilton shake hands. #Shakehandsgate