Vettel storms to Indian Grand Prix pole
26 October 2013 – Sebastian Vettel took a dominant pole position during Saturday's qualifying session for the Indian Grand Prix. The Red Bull driver, who opted to use the Soft compound tyre in a strategic shootout phase, delivered a 1:24.119 to lead the Mercedes duo of Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton by more than three quarters of a second.
Heading into the final segment, all eyes were on tyre strategies given the disparity between the Soft and Medium steps. Vettel, who made it through to Q2 on the Medium rubber, chose the Soft option, and proceeded to surge clear with his quickest effort.
Mark Webber, on an opposing Medium-tyre plan, had been set to lock-out the front row for Red Bull, but he was usurped by Rosberg and Hamilton in the closing stages. The Australian has reason to feel confident, however, starting on the preferred race tyre.
Felipe Massa took fifth on the Soft tyres, outqualifying team-mate Fernando Alonso who used Primes. Kimi Räikkönen and Nico Hülkenberg slotted between the Ferrari drivers, while the McLarens of Sergio Pérez and Jenson Button completed the top ten.
Both Toro Rosso and Force India drivers were unable to make it through to the final shootout. Daniel Ricciardo will start from 11th position, sandwiching Paul di Resta and Adrian Sutil with team-mate Jean-Éric Vergne. Valtteri Bottas and Esteban Gutiérrez were distant with their best Q2 efforts, classifying 15th and 16th respectively.
Romain Grosjean was a surprise eliminee from the opening phase; like Vettel he gambled on the Medium compound tyre, but a series of mistakes hampered his efforts. The Frenchman, who shook his head in disbelief when returning to the pit lane, will share the ninth row with Williams driver Pastor Maldonado, with the Marussias and Caterhams – headed by Jules Bianchi – bringing up the rear.
Attentions now turn to the race, during which Sebastian Vettel and Red Bull can claim fourth successive titles. The German requires only a fifth place finish to do so, while his team must head to Abu Dhabi with a 129-point advantage over its nearest rivals.
Saturday afternoon's 60-lap race at the Buddh International Circuit begins at 3pm local time (GMT +5:30) and can be tracked via the GPUpdate.net live report feature