• Indian Grand Prix - Qualifying

Vettel on pole amid strategy gambles in India

ESPN Staff
October 26, 2013
© Sutton Images

Sebastian Vettel took pole position at the Indian Grand Prix as his main rivals took to gambling on tyre strategies in the hope of outfoxing him in Sunday's race.

Vettel put in another consummate performance of speed and precision as he saved two sets of soft tyres for the final runs in Q3 and used the first to great effect to qualify over 0.7s clear of his nearest rivals Nico Robserg and Lewis Hamilton. In the knowledge that it would take something very special to beat him, team-mate Mark Webber qualified fourth in Q3 on medium tyres, meaning he will start the race on the harder compound that will last a lot longer in the opening stint. The hope from his side of the garage is that it will give him an advantage over the cars in front as Red Bull has been struggling with front tyre wear on the softs all weekend.

Fernando Alonso tried the same, but the Ferrari's lack of pace left him eighth overall with Nico Hulkenberg, Kimi Raikkonen and Felipe Massa between him and Webber - all on soft tyres. Sergio Perez and Jenson Button rounded out the top ten after both cut their losses and set times on medium tyres.

Romain Grosjean was the biggest casualty in Q1 as he gambled on saving a set of soft tyres by setting his time on mediums. He pulled out of his final lap midway through, and when told on the radio that he had missed the cut, exclaimed "No way!" On the plus side he will have two sets of fresh medium tyres and three sets of soft tyres, but will also need to use them to their full potential to progress from his 17th-place starting position.

Ahead of him is a mix of Toro Rossos, Force Indias, Saubers and a Williams, which won't be easy to pass, especially as some are likely to start the race on the medium compound for a long first stint. Daniel Ricciardo starts 11th ahead of the highest placed Force India of Paul di Resta, who showed bursts of speed in both Q1 and Q2 but ended up 0.3s shy of a place in Q3.

Pastor Maldonado was the other big name to drop out in Q1 along with the usual suspects from Marussia and Caterham, although Jules Bianchi put in an impressive time to get within 0.1s of the Williams.

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