Greater Noida, India (SportsNetwork.com) - Sebastian Vettel from Red Bull moved one step closer to claiming his fourth consecutive Formula One world championship by winning the pole for Sunday's Indian Grand Prix.
Vettel made a lap around the Buddh International Circuit in a record time of 1 minute, 24.119 seconds during Saturday's qualifying. The 26-year-old German has now won the pole in each of the first three Indian GPs. He has also won this race the past two years. Vettel earned his 43rd career F1 pole, including his seventh this season.
"I think we've done pretty well in the past, focusing on every single step, and I don't see a reason why we would change things for tomorrow," Vettel said. "We're in a good position. Tomorrow is a long race, and with strategy, it will be tricky to always do the right thing. But there are a lot of laps, so I think we have a quick package and should be in good shape tomorrow."
Vettel, winner of the last five grand prix, holds a 90-point lead over his closest competitor, Fernando Alonso from Ferrari. If Vettel finishes fifth or better in the Indian GP, he will wrap up the title, even if Alonso were to win the race. Alonso qualified eighth.
If Alonso finishes third or lower, Vettel will still capture the championship, regardless of his result.
Mercedes' Nico Rosberg will start alongside his fellow countryman Vettel on the front row after posting a lap in 1:24.871. Rosberg's teammate, Lewis Hamilton, qualified third.
"We have tried a lot of different things in the practice sessions this weekend to try and find an extra one or two tenths (of a second), and I found a good setup with my guys, so I'm happy with our work so far," Rosberg said. "I just wanted to qualify best of the rest today, so I'm really happy with second place and starting on the front row."
Mark Webber took the fourth spot but had a different strategy than his Red Bull teammate, Vettel, by using slower medium tires during the final segment of qualifying (Q3). Vettel and Webber were first and second fastest, respectively, in all three practice sessions.
"We thought it was worth trying something a little bit different with the strategy today, so that's why we ran the primes in Q3," Webber said. "We thought we would probably be a bit further back than the second row to be honest, so it turned out to be a good session for us."
Felipe Massa from Ferrari qualified fifth, followed by Lotus' Kimi Raikkonen and Sauber's Nico Hulkenberg. McLaren drivers Sergio Perez and Jenson Button completed the top-10.
Romain Grosjean failed to make it out of Q1 while using medium tires. The Lotus driver will start 17th. Two weeks ago, Grosjean led a majority of the laps in the Japanese Grand Prix but faded in the closing laps to finish third.
"We took a gamble once again to try just one run on the prime tires in Q1, and although it's been a successful tactic for us recently, it didn't pay off this time," Grosjean said.