It was touch and go as to whether qualifying would take place at all and instead be switched to Sunday given the conditions that had dominated and resulted in the F3 race being red-flagged after 15 laps and the cancellation of final practice.
But a weather window eventually appeared, resulting in the session starting 46 minutes later than planned, and although the rain started again just as the opening 18-minute Q1 commenced, it was not heavy enough to call it off.
Come the top-10 shoot-out, though, the conditions had worsened again, amplified by the fact Hamilton's Q3 time of one minute 19.273secs was almost 1.5s down on his best lap overall in Q2.
The Briton was simply outstanding, with his final lap, in particular, on another level to finish so far ahead of Verstappen, who may have gained ground with his closing lap as he had set personal bests in the first two sectors, only to lose grip approaching the final turn and slide off the track.
From early lap times on the extreme wet tyres of around one minute and 24 seconds, come the conclusion of Q1 the leaders had managed to shave six seconds off that time, with Hamilton leading the way with a 1:18.188.
For the second consecutive week, a Ferrari failed to make it out of Q2, with Charles Leclerc the driver falling by the wayside, missing out by 0.083secs to team-mate Vettel.
Leclerc was hampered by the fact that after strapping on a fresh set of extremes with around four minutes remaining, the intensity of the rain increased sufficiently that ensured he was unable to improve.
Joining Leclerc on row six will be George Russell in his Williams, giving the team its first Q2 spot since the 2018 Brazilain Grand Prix. The Briton produced a stunning display to claim 12th, finishing just eight-thousandths of a second behind Leclerc.
Alfa Romeo's Kimi Raikkonen and Sergio Perez in his Racing Point were the biggest casualties of Q1, with the duo to start 16th and 17th.
While the Racing Point has proven itself in the dry, threatening to be the best of the rest behind Mercedes and Red Bull, clearly an Achilles heel has been discovered as it struggled in the wet.
Williams' Nicolas Latifi lines up 18th, followed by the second Alfa Romeo of Antonio Giovinazzi, who red-flagged Q1 with 13 seconds remaining after sliding backwards into a barrier, severely damaging his rear wing.
While the Italian managed to keep his engine running and returned to the track, albeit depositing a piece of the wing on the track in the process, he pulled over soon after, leading to FIA race director Michael Masi calling a halt.
Romain Grosjean will start last after failing to set a time as the Frenchman ran onto the gravel on his opening lap, forcing him back to the garage from which he did not return.
Lewis Hamilton is the rainmeister! He is a class act in general and wonderful in difficult conditions. Head and shoulders better than the young pretenders!
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