Nico Rosberg scored his 20th Formula 1 pole position to outqualify Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton by 0.188s around Mexico City’s Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez.
Hamilton, who was first out on track in Q3 ahead of Rosberg, set 1m20.120s after a lock-up in the baseball stadium section, but Rosberg beat him with 1m19.690s.
Hamilton grabbed pole briefly on his second flyer with 1m19.668s, but Rosberg topped him again by 0.188s moments later with 1m19.480s. That lap would stand as the pole time.
Vettel went P3, 0.37s off Rosberg's pace, with Kvyat fourth on 1m20.398s. Ricciardo got to within 0.001s of his teammate's pace on his second run for P5.
On their final runs, neither Hamilton (who ran wide at Turn 12) nor Rosberg improved, leaving the grid order: Rosberg, Hamilton, Vettel, Ricciardo and the Williams duo Valtteri Bottas and Felipe Massa. Toro Rosso's Max Verstappen will start eighth.
The Force Indias only made one run at the end of the session, with local hero Sergio Perez outqualifying Nico Hulkenberg, who only made the top 10 shootout by 0.007s.
Raikkonen main casualty of Q2
Hamilton set 1m20.129s on his first flyer in Q2, then lowered the bar to 1m19.829s on his second lap. Rosberg was 0.224s slower in contrast, with Vettel jumping ahead of him into P2 on 1m20.045s.
Kvyat was best of the rest on 1m20.490s, ahead of Ricciardo and Bottas.
In the knockout zone, there was a tight battle between the Toro Rossos and Lotuses – just as spots of rain began to fall.
Despite that, Verstappen and Massa escaped in the dying moments of the session, dumping out Toro Rosso's Carlos Sainz, the Lotuses of Romain Grosjean and Pastor Maldonado, and Marcus Ericsson's Sauber.
Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen spun at Turn 1 on a medium-tyre run, and ended his session prematurely with the slowest time in the session blaming braking issues.
Raikkonen will take a five-place grid penalty for new gearbox, but reverted back to old engine that did not require any further sanctions. He will start ahead of the McLarens.
Alonso falls victim in Q1
After Hamilton set a benchmark 1m20.808s on the medium-compound tyre in Q1, Rosberg recorded 1m21.140s on the same rubber. Rosberg ran again on softs to top the session on 1m20.436s.
That headed Vettel's 1m20.503s by 0.067s, with Hamilton third on his medium-tyre time.
In the knockout zone, McLaren's Fernando Alonso missed the cut by two tenths of a second. He just shaded Sauber's Felipe Nasr and the two Manors, with Alex Rossi beating Will Stevens by 0.25s.
Alonso has a 10-place grid penalty, regardless.
Jenson Button failed to take part in qualifying at all due to an untraceable misfire on his McLaren's Honda engine.
|4||Daniil Kvyat||Red Bull Racing||1:20.826||1:20.490||1:20.398|
|5||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull Racing||1:21.166||1:20.783||1:20.399|
|8||Max Verstappen||Toro Rosso||1:20.995||1:20.894||1:20.710|
|9||Sergio Perez||Force India||1:20.966||1:20.669||1:20.716|
|10||Nico Hulkenberg||Force India||1:21.315||1:20.935||1:20.788|
|11||Carlos Sainz Jr.||Toro Rosso||1:20.960||1:20.942|
|12||Romain Grosjean||Lotus F1 Team||1:21.577||1:21.038|
|13||Pastor Maldonado||Lotus F1 Team||1:21.520||1:21.261|