STARTING ON THE FRONT ROW: Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg waves after qualifying on pole position for the Mexican GP. Image: AFP/ Andreas Solaro
Mexico City, Mexico - Nico Rosberg will start on pole in Sunday's Mexican Grand Prix after outpacing his Mercedes team-mate and newly-crowned three-time world champion Lewis Hamilton in qualifying on Saturday.
Six days after their wheel-banging duel in Texas, where Hamilton won the United States GP to clinch the title, Rosberg secured his fourth consecutive pole by 0.188sec as Mercedes claimed their 13th front row lockout in 2015.
Read: 2015 Mexican GP: Qualifying - As it happened
It was the 20th pole of Rosberg's career and continued to leave Hamilton frustrated as the Englishman seeks his 50th pole position. Hamilton has not started from pole since the Italian Grand Prix in early September.
Rosberg clocked a best lap of 1min:19:480 seconds to outpace Hamilton by 0.188 seconds.
Mercedes team chief Toto Wolff had an easy explanation for Rosberg's speed.
"Angry..." he said, referring to the 30-year-old German's tetchy reaction to being pushed off-track by Hamilton on the opening lap last weekend (October 24- 25).
That failure to exploit pole and win represented another failure in Rosberg's current travails as he seeks to improve on just two wins from his last 10 pole positions.
With 20 poles, Rosberg has the most by any driver not to have won a world title.
Rosberg said: "I have felt good all weekend and been fast here.
"It's very good to start from pole and there is a very long run down to Turn One and I am sure we have a good 'race' car so it should be interesting, an interesting battle!"
Hamilton, once again, wound up second after making key mistakes on his best laps.
Hamilton said: "There were a couple of moments when the car felt spectacular, but there are a few places where I can improve - my driving and my set-up. Nico has been very fast."
He starts ahead of Sebastian Vettel of Ferrari and the two Red Bulls of Daniil Kvyat and Australian Daniel Ricciardo.
Vettel said: "It's a fun track to drive on and it should be a good race. The Mercedes were just too quick for me today."
Valtteri Bottas was sixth ahead of his Williams team-mate Felipe Massa, Dutch teenager Max Verstappen of Toro Rosso, local hero Mexican Sergio Perez and his Force India team-mate Nico Hulkenberg.
The session began in front of a huge crowd, estimated at more than 100 000 all keen to greet Mexico's first Grand Prix for 23 years with vibrant enthusiasm.
The biggest roar, predictably, came for Perez, who had a photograph of the Pope in his Force India car.
Sadly for Jenson Button, a recurring problem with his McLaren's Honda engine forced him to miss qualifying.
Hamilton, revelling in the conditions, was the first driver to clock a time under 1min21 and set a marker for Rosberg, indicating just how intense their in-team rivalry remains.
After a delay, Ferrari joined in and Vettel, on the softer tyres, outpaced Hamilton to go top before being replaced by Rosberg, also on softs.
At the other end, Fernando Alonso was eliminated in 15th place, joining McLaren team-mate Button on the side-lines.
Also out went Felipe Nasr of Sauber, American Alex Rossi and his Manor Marussia team-mate Will Stevens.
Hamilton used softs immediately in Q2 and went top with 1:20.129 before trimming it to 1min19:829. Vettel went second, slower by two-tenths, but just ahead of Rosberg as rain fell.
That did nothing to deter Verstappen and Massa who improved to grab their places in the final shootout, pushing Spaniard Carlos Sainz out in 11th for Toro Rosso.
He was just ahead of Romain Grosjean and his Lotus team-mate Pastor Maldonado, Marcus Ericsson of Sauber and Kimi Raikkonen, who had brake problems with his Ferrari.
Qualifying classification for the Mexican GP:
1. Nico Rosberg (Germany) Mercedes - 1min19:480
2. Lewis Hamilton (Britain) Mercedes - 1min19:668
3. Sebastian Vettel (Germany) Ferrari - 1min19:850
4. Daniil Kvyat (Russia) Red Bull - 1min20:398
5. Daniel Ricciardo (Australia) Red Bull - 1min20:399
6. Valtteri Bottas (Finland) Williams - 1min20:448
7. Felipe Massa (Brazil) Williams - 1min20:567
8. Max Verstappen (Netherlands) Toro Rosso - 1min20:710
9. Sergio Perez (Mexico) Force India - 1min20:716
10. Nico Hulkenberg (Germany) Force India - 1min20:788
11. Carlos Sainz Jr (Spain) Toro Rosso - 1min20:942
12. Romain Grosjean (France) Lotus - 1min21:038
13. Pastor Maldonado (Venezuela) Lotus - 1min21:261
14. Marcus Ericsson (Sweden) Sauber - 1min21:544
15. Kimi Raikkonen (Finland) Ferrari - 1min22:494
16. Fernando Alonso (Spain) McLaren - 1min21:779
17. Felipe Nasr (Brazil) Sauber Ferrari - 1min21:788
18. Alexander Rossi (United States) Marussia - 1min24:136
19. Will Stevens (Britain) Marussia - 1min24:386
20. Jenson Button (Britain) McLaren