Ferrari's Fernando Alonso, Vettel's only remaining rival in the drivers' championship, could manage no better than ninth in the third qualifying session (though he will move up to eighth after Lotus's Romain Grosjean is assessed a five grid-spot penalty for changing his gearbox between the final practice session and qualifying).
The pole is Vettel's sixth of the season. He came through the final lap of the third qualifying session with a blistering time of 1m 35.657s. McLaren's Lewis Hamilton came surprisingly close to displacing Vettel but lost precision time in the third sector of the track and finished second with 1m 35.766s. Mark Webber of Red Bull Racing was third with 1m 36.174s.
Alonso struggled all day -- all weekend, in fact -- with grip (as did many of the teams) and finished below his teammate Felipe Massa. Only 10 points separate Vettel and Alonso in the title hunt, but the Ferrari driver has his work cut out for him. Not only will he be starting in eighth position, he will be lined up on the left side of the track, which is considered to be far less grippy than the right.
The Ferrari driver, however, remained in fighting mode after the qualifying session.
"We knew it was going to be complicated. We started seventh in Abu Dhabi and eighth here, so more or less the positions have been the same," he told Autosport. "As always, the race is tomorrow. I still think that tomorrow we are going to reduce the gap to Sebastian, which is what counts."
|Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull Racing||1:35.657|
|Mark Webber||Red Bull Racing||1:36.174|
|Nico Hulkenberg||Force India||1:37.141|
|Paul Di Resta||Force India|
|Jean-Eric Vergne||Toro Rosso|
|Daniel Ricciardo||Toro Rosso|
|Pedro de la Rosa||HRT|
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