Advantage Rosberg then, as the German claims a fifth straight pole, and at a venue he triumphed at last year - and where team mate Hamilton is still desperately chasing a first victory. All the ingredients for a classic? We'll find out tomorrow - join us at 1400 local time (1600 GMT) for our free live timing and commentary from Interlagos.
Qualifying - Rosberg secures fifth consecutive pole
As for Vettel, he admits that "Q2 gave us a bit of hope, but I saw that Nico had a few mistakes...
"I knew Q3 it would be difficult to get close. We were able to improve from yesterday, but today was the optimum for us. I think tomorrow could be interesting."
Hamilton isn't quite as talkative, but he insists Rosberg's run of five straight poles isn't a major setback.
"Today was good actually. I'm very happy with the balance and the work we did with the engineers," he explains. "Q3 I wasn’t able to find that small edge, I didn’t maximise that first sector. My main job is done this year, but of course I haven’t won here, and that’s the target."
"I'm pleased with today, it's the best place to be for tomorrow," Rosberg smiles in the post-race debrief. "Q3 really got going, the last lap was on the edge with a couple of big moments, but it worked out!
"P2 in the championship is still there to be had, and also it’s always better to end the season on a high than a low."
"Yep, not good guys," Massa sighs after being told he is eighth. "I hope tomorrow will be better."
The German is all smiles as he chats to countryman Vettel in parc ferme. Hamilton meanwhile doesn't seem to have appeared for the traditional post-qualifying photo, so Vettel and Rosberg do it on their own.
So, Rosberg claims his fifth successive pole position, becoming just the 13th man in history to do so. But will he be able to secure his second successive victory tomorrow?
Qualifying top three - 1. Rosberg, 2. Hamilton, 3. Vettel
Hulkenberg grabs fifth from Raikkonen...but the Finn reclaims the spot with his final flyer. He'll start alongside team mate Vettel after Bottas' three-place grid drop is applied.
No! Hamilton loses out by 0.078s. Rosberg is on pole for the second year in a row at Interlagos.
And Rosberg improves by two tenths of a second. Can Hamilton strike back?
Rosberg sets a new personal best through the first sector - and Hamilton can't quite match it.
The chequered flag flies, but it's all to play for at Interlagos...
Everyone out on track now.
A little under 3mins to go... brace yourselves folks! This is the big one! #F1 #BrazilGP #Quali
Bottas and Rosberg head out for their final runs.
All drivers head back to the pits. It's incredibly tight out there - 0.088s in the fight for pole, 0.188s between third and fifth...
Massa slots into P7 to big cheers from the grandstand, but the Brazilian is half a second back from team mate Bottas.
Vettel goes P3, but he's slower than he was in Q2. He also locked-up into Turn 10.
Replays show Hamilton locked-up into Turn 10 on that first effort. That might have been where he lost out.
And Hamilton can't match it. Second for the Briton, by just 0.088s.
Rosberg crosses the line in 1m 11.461s, the fastest lap of the weekend.
Once again nothing to choose between Rosberg and Hamilton in sector one...
Hulkenberg has joined the fray on used soft tyres. Everyone else who has come out, including Bottas, is on new rubber.
Hamilton has headed out to join his team mate. Game on.
Rosberg is the first man out in Q3.
Hamilton is chasing his 50th career pole position; Rosberg his fifth in a row. Can anyone stop the Mercedes men?
Green light - Q3 is underway.
Alonso shares a joke with the media about his chance to sunbathe during Q1.
"Unfortunately a lot of frustration," he admits. "We need to fix many problems on the reliability side. Next year all these problems, all these mistakes, we need to learn from them and not make them anymore. The team, Mr Arai, Ron, need to evaluate how this season was and how we will change."
Sainz said he had a lot of problems with his dash and his data in Q2. Grosjean meanwhile says he doesn't understand what happened at Turn 6.
Nasr meanwhile misses out by just 0.131s.
Bad news for Perez, who is eliminated in 13th - seven spots and 0.7s down on team mate Hulkenberg, who was on pole here of course in 2010.
Eliminated in Q2 - Nasr, Sainz, Perez, Ericsson, Grosjean
...and nor can Sainz, which means Massa scrapes through.
Nasr jumps out of the top ten, but Verstappen demotes him back into the drop zone as the Toro Rosso slots into eighth. Massa is right on the bubble here - but Ericsson and Grosjean can't improve...
Massa lifts himself into eighth. As it stands, Sainz, Ericsson, Nasr, Verstappen and Grosjean are in the danger zone.
The Frenchman manages to keep his Lotus out of the barriers and get going again, but he has big flat spots on his tyres now.
Yellow flags - Grosjean has spun at Turn 6 on his first flying run of Q2.
Raikkonen goes fourth, three tenths back from Vettel and just 0.030s shy of Rosberg.
Vettel's first lap lifts him into second, a few tenths above Rosberg.
Kvyat tells Red Bull that he was missing a bit of front-end grip on that first run. He returns to the pits for some set-up tweaks.
Vettel heads out for the first time in Q2. Grosjean, Ricciardo and Raikkonen are the other three yet to set a time so far.
Verstappen's first Q2 flyer is a poor one. "I had a moment in Turn 4," says the youngster.
Hulkenberg moves up to P3 behind Rosberg. Nasr meanwhile moves ahead of countryman Massa.
Massa meanwhile is struggling massively. His Williams is very loose, and his lap is more than one second down on team mate Bottas.
Plenty of action on-track, but plenty off-track too. Down in the pit lane there's amusement as Jenson Button and Fernando Alonso climb onto the podium and wave to the fans in the grandstand opposite.
"Is that fast enough do you think?" Rosberg asks. Mercedes initially say he needs to go again - but after Rosberg questions the decision they tell him to box.
Williams are the only other team out on circuit now. Bottas has slotted into third, four tenths down on Rosberg.
Rosberg crosses the line in 1m 12.213s - but Hamilton is a lot faster in the second half of the circuit, and is over 0.5s faster as he comes across the line.
Hamilton and Rosberg post virtually the exact same time in sector one...
The Mercedes are both on softs again, which of course means that they'll save mediums for tomorrow's race. We could be seeing a few three-stop strategies on Sunday.
Rosberg is the first man out this time, followed closely by team mate Hamilton.
The lights go green, and Q2 is underway.
Button reports that his car was much better than in practice. "That's positive," says his engineer. "Yeah," responds Button. "We're obviously not very competitive but the car is much better this afternoon."
Hamilton leads Rosberg again during Q1 with all the drivers using the soft tyre. Mercedes only cars in 1m11s bracket #BrazilGP
- Pirelli Motorsport (@pirellisport) 14/11/2015 16:23
Maldonado incidentally was 0.329s slower than Grosjean. On such margins can weekends be made - or undone...
Race control have confirmed that the stewards will look at that Turn 11 incident involving Nasr and Massa after the session.
Eliminated in Q1 - Maldonado, Button, Rossi, Stevens, Alonso
The Marussias of Rossi and Stevens are also eliminated, but the shock exit is Maldonado who misses out by 0.039s to Ericsson.
Button is definitely out - he can't improve. Who will join him?
One Brazilian gets in the way of another, as Massa has to run off-track to avoid a slow Nasr on the racing line. "Did you see that?!" Massa barks, his hand raised in frustration.
The chequered flag is out - more times to come though.
Red Bull tell Ricciardo that they think he's done enough to make it through. The Australian is currently P6.
Button and Ericsson, then, are in the drop zone alongside Alonso and the Marussias.
Grosjean makes himself safe by moving up to fourth, moments before Vettel jumps to third.
Both Lotus drivers are now on track and looking to work themselves out of the drop zone.
Alonso has found a seat to watch the rest of qualifying from. At present, Grosjean, Maldonado, Stevens and Rossi are set to join him in being eliminated in Q1.
Incidentally, that's the second qualifying session in a row that Alonso has failed to set a time.
So Alonso will be the first driver to be eliminated this afternoon - but which four drivers will join him in Q1?
"I parked it, Turn 11," Alonso sighs heavily. "No power." You can hear the resignation in his voice.
"Stop immediately, stop immediately," McLaren instruct Alonso. He's out of the car, has hurdled the barriers, and is already pulling his gloves off. A disconsolate figure.
The yellow flags are out in sector 2 - and it's Alonso. The unlucky Spaniard has parked up at the side of the track - a sadly familiar sight this season.
Hamilton completes his first flyer and it's good enough to send him to the top of the pile by just 0.064s.
That lap, incidentally, is the fastest we've seen all weekend.
And now Rosberg, out on the softs, goes top with a 1m 11.746s. At the moment, he's more than one second faster than Bottas and the rest of the field.
He's had a quiet weekend so far, but home favourite Massa hits the front for Williams - for all of a few seconds that Verstappen, Raikkonen and Bottas go faster.
Hulkenberg sets the early pace with a 1m 13.824s.
The Mercedes, Toro Rossos and Marussias have gone straight out on the softs.
Hulkenberg - the polesitter here in 2010 - is the first man to head out on track. The Force India star is followed out by team mate Perez, both of them on medium tyres.
Waiting is the word of choice for now though. We're still yet to see anyone head out.
Good news down at McLaren - the team have got Alonso's car ready, and the Spaniard is in the cockpit and waiting.
As a reminder, two DRS zones are in operation this weekend. The first has a detection point at Turn 2 with activation just after Turn 3, while the second has its detection point after Turn 13 and its activation point on the pit straight following Turn 15.
Not exactly a rush to get out though. One minute in, and we're yet to see anyone head out.
The lights go green - Q1 is underway.
A further five drivers will be eliminated in the 15-minute Q2, leaving ten drivers to fight it out for pole in the 12-minute Q3.
Remember, this session will be split into three segments, starting with the 18-minute Q1 in which five drivers will be eliminated.
Two minutes to lights out. It's worth keeping an eye out for Alonso - McLaren are currently working frantically on his car in a bid to get it ready for Q1.
Even in the dry, Interlagos have proved a supreme challenge so far this weekend. Hamilton was just one of several drivers to make a mistake - will we see more in qualifying?
A reminder then that we'll see the white-marked medium and yellow-marked soft tyres, at least in the early stages of qualifying. If rain does arrive, drivers may have to switch to the intermediates or even the wets.
We were expecting a wet qualifying ahead of the weekend, but we have clear blue skies at present. Officially the risk of rain is 30 percent, but right now things look very calm.
The home fans of course will be hoping for big performances from the two Brazilian's on the grid - Sauber's Felipe Nasr and Williams' Felipe Massa. Massa has been on pole here three times before, but he hasn't featured at the sharp end so far this weekend. Will we see him come to the fore this afternoon, or have the kerb changes that took place ahead of this year's race reduced his home field advantage?
Two drivers head into this session with grid penalties hanging over them: Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo will drop ten places from wherever he qualifies because of an unscheduled engine change, whilst Williams' Valtteri Bottas was given a three-place grid drop for overtaking under red flags in FP2.
Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel was the only other driver to get within a second of Hamilton, but it was extremely close behind with less than 0.9s splitting Kimi Raikkonen in fourth to Carlos Sainz in 15th.
World champion Lewis Hamilton led the way in this morning's final practice session - but not by much. His Mercedes team mate Nico Rosberg - the winner here a year ago - was just 0.1s back.
We’re here at Interlagos for what promises to be an extremely tight session to decide the grid for tomorrow’s Formula 1 Grande Premio Petrobras do Brasil 2015.
Welcome to Formula1.com’s live coverage of qualifying from Sao Paulo.
ROSBERG GANA EN BRASIL Y ASEGURA EL SUBCAMPEONATO
Mercedes juega con todos
Nico logra su segunda victoria consecutiva, la quinta del año, justo después de que Hamilton se hubiera proclamado campeón en Austin.
Alonso acaba 16º y Sainz rompe el motor en la vuelta 1.
Desde Austria, Nico Rosberg no pudo amenazar ni un día la victoria a Lewis Hamilton, que siempre pareció un punto por delante en capacidad durante el verano y el inicio del otoño. De pronto, tras el título del inglés y con la amenaza de Vettel en la lucha por el subcampeonato, el alemán se marca dos fines de semana perfectos y Lewis es el que parece sin posibilidad de aguantar su ritmo.
Son esas 'casualidades', las que originan sensación de que hay ciertos tejemanejes tras el telón. Es el espectáculo enlatado y artificial en el que Mercedes hace y deshace a su antojo y va moviendo los hilos de sus marionetas para obtener el final oportuno. Es por esas cosas, que en Alemania ya no hay gran premio de F1 y que la atención, en uno de los países con mayor tradición en las dos últimas décadas, se ha desplomado.
No hubo opción para Hamilton ni en la salida, ni en la estrategia. Cada vez que intentó forzar acabó cometiendo pequeños errores que dañaron sus gomas y Rosberg tuvo una de las carreras más plácidas del año. Nico se aseguró la segunda plaza del Mundial y sólo queda la última carrera en Abu Dabi. Si se quiere apostar, Hamilton volverá a ser intratable. Es el guión que aunque no esté escrito, a veces lo parece.
En cuanto a la participación española, Fernando Alonso tuvo una digna salida, donde ganó cinco plazas, de 19º a 14º en las primeras curvas. Luego la escasez de potencia no le dejó progresar más. Se quedó anclado tras Button, como y no estuvo en disposición de encontrarle y adelantarle.
Por su parte, Carlos Sainz sigue en ese bucle de averías desesperante, que no le permite mostrar sus virtudes ni medirse de tú a tú con su compañero, Max Verstappen, que acabó noveno en otra meritoria carrera, donde acabó adelantando en pista al Lotus de Maldonado para puntuar.
Sainz se quedó parado en una de las vueltas previas a la parrilla y fue remolcado hasta el box. Pudo iniciar desde el 'pit lane', en lugar de en la 10 marca que le correspondía. Y en la primera vuelta, sus ruedas traseras se bloquearon y acabó fuera de pista sin poder hacer nada por evitarlo. Es el séptimo abandono en carrera de Carlos en las 18 carreras disputadas en su debut en la F1.
El podio lo completó Vettel, que en un circuito corto como el de Interlagos estuvo unas tres décimas por detrás de Hamilton en cada vuelta, pero sin poder intimidar a las flechas plateadas, Que siguen jugando a su antojo con la competencia. Fue además una de las citas más anodinas de la temporada.