Sebastian Vettel underlined his superior practice performance at the Buddh International Circuit by leading Red Bull Racing to its third consecutive front row.
The championship leader, who took over the lead from Fernando Alonso after his victory in Korea, actually made a mistake on his first Q3 run.
Unfazed by the error at Turn 7, Vettel responded with a time of one minute, 25.283 seconds on his second run to beat team-mate Mark Webber to pole. Webber’s challenge was then compromised by a mistake at Turn 3.
Vettel stayed out just in case he had to defend his qualifying status, before abandoning the lap once it became clear he was out of reach. By taking the top spot at the Indian Grand Prix, Sebastian Vettel is now third in all-time record list with 35 pole positions.
As for his championship rival, Fernando Alonso starts back in fifth.
The McLarens of Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button filled row two, pushing the Ferraris of Alonso and Felipe Massa down to row three.
Kimi Raikkonen’s Lotus and the Sauber of Sergio Perez will share row four.
Despite the fear that the Williams team lacked qualifying pace this weekend, Pastor Maldonado made it through into Q3 and took ninth.
Nico Rosberg also reached the pole shoot-out but did not set a time in the Mercedes.
Several teams saw one of their drivers reach the top ten while the other ended up in the midfield.
Romain Grosjean was pushed outside the Q3 cut late on, leaving him in P11.
Bruno Senna’s promising start to Q2 did not translate into a top ten appearance and will start the race in P13.
As for Michael Schumacher, the seven-time world champion lacked speed compared to his Mercedes team-mate Rosberg (six tenths of a second) and could only qualify in P14.
There were big intra-teams gaps for Force India and Sauber too, with seven tenths splitting Nico Hulkenberg in P12 and Paul di Resta in P16, and Kamui Kobayashi a long way off emulating Perez’s Q3 form in P17.
Jean-Eric Vergne was again eliminated in Q1. Heikki Kovalainen spun into the gravel at the end of the opening segment, leaving his Caterham team-mate Vitaly Petrov free to lead the tail-end pack.
So another dominant performance by Sebastian Vettel at India. Fastest in all three practice sessions and now pole position. Looking really good for another race victory and extending his championship lead over Fernando Alonso.
Qualifying positions at the Buddh International Circuit:
1. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault 1m25.283
2. Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault 1m25.327
3. Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1m25.544
4. Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1m25.659
5. Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1m25.773
6. Felipe Massa Ferrari 1m25.857
7. Kimi Raikkonen Lotus-Renault 1m26.236
8. Sergio Perez Sauber-Ferrari 1m26.360
9. Pastor Maldonado Williams-Renault 1m26.713
10. Nico Rosberg Mercedes no time
11. Romain Grosjean Lotus-Renault 1m26.136s
12. Nico Hulkenberg Force India-Mercede 1m26.241s
13. Bruno Senna Williams-Renault 1m26.331s
14. Michael Schumacher Mercedes 1m26.574s
15. Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m26.777s
16. Paul di Resta Force India-Mercede 1m26.989s
17. Kamui Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari 1m27.219s
18. Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m27.525s
19. Vitaly Petrov Caterham-Renault 1m28.756s
20. Heikki Kovalainen Caterham-Renault 1m29.500s
21. Timo Glock Marussia-Cosworth 1m29.613s
22. Pedro de la Rosa HRT-Cosworth 1m30.592s
23. Narain Karthikeyan HRT-Cosworth 1m30.593s
24. Charles Pic Marussia-Cosworth 1m30.662s
107 per cent time: 1m32.071s