Lewis Hamilton's championship hopes were dealt a major setback after he was excluded from qualifying and thrown to the back of the grid for today's sprint race at the Brazilian Grand Prix.

FIA stewards determined that Hamilton's Mercedes fell foul of the technical regulations and his pole lap at Interlagos was chalked off.

Hamilton's punishment promotes rival Max Verstappen to the front of the grid.

The winner of today's 24-lap dash at Interlagos takes three points, and pole position for Sunday's Grand Prix, with the result determining Sunday's grid.

Verstappen leads the drivers' championship by 19 points

Hamilton is already facing a five-place grid penalty for Sunday's main event after Mercedes changed his engine for a fifth time this season.

Verstappen was also investigated after he touched Hamilton's car in the aftermath of qualifying here.

But the Dutchman escaped with a €50,000 fine and no further punishment.

Hamilton trails Verstappen by 19 points with just four rounds left.