Sebastian Vettel has dominated qualifying to claim pole position for the Indian Grand Prix

Sebastian Vettel has romped to pole position – the 43rd of his career – with a superb qualifying demonstration at the Buddh International Circuit, ideally placing him to wrap up a fourth Drivers’ Championship title this weekend.

The German finished over three-quarters of a second clear of the rest of the field, leading home the Mercedes duo of Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton.

The fastest three runners all opted to qualify on the Soft-compound Pirelli tyres, while Mark Webber elected to run on the Medium-compound rubber and claimed the fourth-fastest time, giving him a different strategy heading into Sunday’s race.

Felipe Massa was fifth-quickest, outqualifying teammate Fernando Alonso once again with a late flying lap to secure a third-row starting position alongside Kimi Räikkönen. Nico Hülkenberg and Alonso complete the fourth row, while the fifth row is an all-McLaren affair, with Sergio Pérez lining up ahead of Jenson Button.

Despite some not particularly impressive practice pace, both Toro Rossos made it into Q2, with Daniel Ricciardo narrowly missing out on another Q3 berth, falling short by less than six-hundredths of a second.

The Australian and his teammate Jean-Éric Vergne sandwich the Force India pairing of Paul di Resta and Adrian Sutil, who were separated by just three-hundredths of a second. Valtteri Bottas and Esteban Gutiérrez were the slowest of the Q2 runners.

Undoubtedly the biggest shock of qualifying came with Romain Grosjean, who was embarrassingly eliminated in Q1 after a strategic blunder by his Lotus F1 team, who had perhaps anticipated that his banker lap time would prove good enough to keep him out of the slowest six runners. A disinterested Pastor Maldonado also joined him on the Q1 sidelines.

Jules Bianchi finished just a tenth of a second slower than Maldonado with an impressive qualifying performance in his Marussia to win the Caterham-Marussia backmarker battle. The Frenchman lines up ahead of Caterham duo Giedo van der Garde and Charles Pic, while Max Chilton brings up the rear.

2013 Indian Formula 1 Grand Prix – Qualifying Session Times:

Driver Team Time Gap
1. Sebastian Vettel DEU Red Bull Racing Renault RB9 1:24.119  
2. Nico Rosberg DEU Mercedes AMG Petronas F1W04 1:24.871 + 0.752
3. Lewis Hamilton GBR Mercedes AMG Petronas F1W04 1:24.941 + 0.822
4. Mark Webber AUS Red Bull Racing Renault RB9 1:25.047 + 0.928
5. Felipe Massa BRA Scuderia Ferrari F138 1:25.201 + 1.082
6. Kimi Räikkönen FIN Lotus F1 Renault E21 1:25.248 + 1.129
7. Nico Hülkenberg DEU Sauber Ferrari C32 1:25.334 + 1.215
8. Fernando Alonso ESP Scuderia Ferrari F138 1:25.826 + 1.707
9. Sergio Pérez MEX McLaren Mercedes MP4-28 1:26.153 + 2.034
10. Jenson Button GBR McLaren Mercedes MP4-28 1:26.487 + 2.368
Q3 Cut-Off – 1:25.458   Time Gap*
11. Daniel Ricciardo AUS Scuderia Toro Rosso Ferrari STR8 1:25.519 + 0.951
12. Paul di Resta GBR Force India Mercedes VJM06 1:25.711 + 1.143
13. Adrian Sutil DEU Force India Mercedes VJM06 1:25.740 + 1.172
14. Jean-Éric Vergne FRA Scuderia Toro Rosso Ferrari STR8 1:25.798 + 1.230
15. Valtteri Bottas FIN Williams Renault FW35 1:26.134 + 1.566
16. Esteban Gutiérrez MEX Sauber Ferrari C32 1:26.336 + 1.768
Q2 Cut-Off – 1:26.178   Time Gap**
17. Romain Grosjean FRA Lotus F1 Renault E21 1:26.577 + 1.003
18. Pastor Maldonado VEN Williams Renault FW35 1:26.842 + 1.268
19. Jules Bianchi FRA Marussia Racing Cosworth MR02 1:26.970 + 1.396
20. Giedo van der Garde NED Caterham Renault CT03 1:27.105 + 1.531
21. Charles Pic FRA Caterham Renault CT03 1:27.487 + 1.913
22. Max Chilton GBR Marussia Racing Cosworth MR02 1:28.138 + 2.564

* Gap to fastest Q2 time of 1:24.568 by Sebastian Vettel 
** Gap to fastest Q1 time of 1:25.574 by Jenson Button

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Richard Bailey

Founder & Chief Editor at MotorsportM8
Hasn't missed a Grand Prix since 1989. Has a soft spot for Minardi. Tattooed with 35+ Grand Prix circuits.