Force India-Mercedes driver Adrian Sutil of Germany leads Williams-Cosworth driver Pastor Maldonado of Venezuela during the qualifying session of the Formula One's Indian Grand Prix at the Buddh International circuit in Greater Noida. (AFP)
Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel clinched his 13th pole position of the season and the 28th of his career. The milestone put him ahead of Argentine legend Juan Manuel Fangio in terms of career pole positions. Vettel denied that further cementing his place in Formula One history was what motivated him to push hard but appreciated the statistic nonetheless. "It was very different when Fangio raced and he had a lot fewer starts as well," said Vettel. "But I feel honoured to be part of a sport with such a rich history that we can compare ourselves to those in the past."
The eventful qualifying session was preceded by the third practice session in which Vettel also set the fastest time. As track conditions improved from Friday, the lap times started to drop and the drivers went hell for leather in an effort to get the maximum out of their cars.
The most high profile casualty was Michael Schumacher who made it into Q2 only after a last-ditch effort. Prior to that, he locked his front left tyre going into the final corner of the lap that created a massive flat spot. The former seven-time champion failed to make it into Q3 after complaining of vibrations in his rear tyres. While the German has shown promising race pace, he has been consistently 'out-qualified' by Mercedes GP teammate Nico Rosberg who managed to get into Q3 and qualify seventh, while Schumacher will start from 12th.
"Qualifying has obviously been a problem for us," said Schumacher. "It's something we have to address although qualifying is not so important this year."
Splitting the two Red Bull cars of Vettel and Mark Webber was McLaren's Lewis Hamilton who would, however, start fifth after a three-place grid penalty incurred during Friday practice. This promoted Ferrari's Fernando Alonso to third.
Felipe Massa, who'll start sixth, complained about the kerbs on the circuit after he damaged his right front suspension while cutting too deep into a corner but Hamilton believed that the kerbs were not an issue at all. "These are the smoothest kerbs we have on the entire calendar," said Hamilton. "I don't think it'll be an issue at all for tomorrow's race."