Sebastian Vettel produced one of his most commanding qualifying performances of an already-dominant 2013 Formula 1 campaign to take Indian Grand Prix pole.
The Red Bull driver, who is poised to clinch a fourth straight world championship this weekend, was 1.7 seconds faster than his rivals when he first put in the 1m24.119s that became pole. That statistic was skewed by the fact that all those out on that stage were using medium tires whereas Vettel was on softs. But even the soft-shod Mercedes of Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton were seven tenths off Vettel as they took second and third.
The shock of qualifying was Romain Grosjean's Q1 exit. The man who fought for victory at Suzuka two weeks ago will be fighting to get through the field at Buddh having chosen to use medium tires in Q1.
Vettel was the only other man who went for that strategy, but while he had no problem getting through in 11th, Grosjean could only manage 17th.
Mark Webber used mediums successfully in Q3 to take fourth on the grid. He was 0.928sec slower than Red Bull teammate Vettel, but 0.8sec and four places ahead of next-best medium user Fernando Alonso.
The Spaniard's Ferrari teammate Felipe Massa took fifth, followed by Kimi Raikkonen and Nico Hulkenberg for Lotus and Sauber, respectively. McLaren used mediums for both its drivers as Sergio Perez and Jenson Button completed the top 10.
There were no surprises in Q2, with the Toro Rossos and Force India intermingling on rows six and seven, ahead of Valtteri Bottas's Williams and Esteban Gutierrez's Sauber.
Pastor Maldonado joined Grosjean among the Q1 departures, and was only 0.128sec clear of Jules Bianchi's Marussia and 0.265sec ahead of Giedo van der Garde's Caterham.
Pos Driver Team Time Gap
1. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault 1m24.119s
2. Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1m24.871s +0.752s
3. Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1m24.941s +0.822s
4. Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault 1m25.047s +0.928s
5. Felipe Massa Ferrari 1m25.201s +1.082s
6. Kimi Raikkonen Lotus-Renault 1m25.248s +1.129s
7. Nico Hulkenberg Sauber-Ferrari 1m25.334s +1.215s
8. Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1m25.826s +1.707s
9. Sergio Perez McLaren-Mercedes 1m26.153s +2.034s
10. Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1m26.487s +2.368s
Q2 cut-off time: 1m25.458s Gap **
11. Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m25.519s +0.951s
12. Paul di Resta Force India-Mercedes 1m25.711s +1.143s
13. Adrian Sutil Force India-Mercedes 1m25.740s +1.172s
14. Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m25.798s +1.230s
15. Valtteri Bottas Williams-Renault 1m26.134s +1.566s
16. Esteban Gutierrez Sauber-Ferrari 1m26.336s +1.768s
Q1 cut-off time: 1m26.178s Gap *
17. Romain Grosjean Lotus-Renault 1m26.577s +1.003s
18. Pastor Maldonado Williams-Renault 1m26.842s +1.268s
19. Jules Bianchi Marussia-Cosworth 1m26.970s +1.396s
20. Giedo van der Garde Caterham-Renault 1m27.105s +1.531s
21. Charles Pic Caterham-Renault 1m27.487s +1.913s
22. Max Chilton Marussia-Cosworth 1m28.138s +2.564s
107% time: 1m31.564s
* Gap to quickest in Q1
** Gap to quickest in Q2