brazilian gp, brazilian grand prix, lewis hamilton, jenson button, mclaren
McLaren Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton of Britain steers his car through the pit lane. -Photo by AP

SAO PAULO: Lewis Hamilton grabbed pole position for Sunday's championship showdown Brazilian Grand Prix on Saturday as he and his McLaren team upstaged the title fighters and locked out the front row for the fourth time this year.

In his final qualifying session for the team before leaving to join Mercedes next year, the 27-year-old Britain clocked a fastest lap of one minute and 12.458 seconds to outpace fellow Briton Jenson Button by one-tenth of a second.

The dazzling performance from the two McLaren men left championship contenders, defending champion Sebastian Vettel of Red Bull down in fourth and his title rival, two-time champion Fernando Alonso of Ferrari, in eighth.

Both of them were out-qualified by their team-mates Australian Mark Webber, who was third for Red Bull, and Brazilian Felipe Massa who was fifth-fastest on his home track for Ferrari.

Venezuelan Pastor Maldonado was sixth for Williams ahead of German Nico Hulkenberg of Force India with Finn Kimi Raikkonen taking ninth spot on the grid for Lotus ahead of German Nico Rosberg of Mercedes.

Rosberg's team-mate and compatriot seven-time champion Michael Schumacher, 43, and heading into retirement after his final race on Sunday, was down in 14th place.

Hamilton's pole was his first in Brazil, his seventh this year and the 26th of his career and helped the team to a record 67th front row lockout in Formula One.

He had pledged he would do all he could to depart McLaren with a win in his 110th and final race and did all he could to set it up.

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