Sebastian Vettel beat Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg to pole position for the Indian Grand Prix, where he can clinch the drivers’ world title.
Red Bull’s Vettel, who has been in imperious form all weekend, was 0.752 seconds clear of Rosberg who beat team-mate Lewis Hamilton by 0.07secs.
Vettel’s team-mate Mark Webber was fourth on the medium tyre in search of an advantage during the race.
Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso made the same choice and qualified eighth.
The Spaniard is the only driver who can mathematically prevent Vettel from tying up his fourth consecutive world championship on
Vettel needs only a fifth place to be absolutely sure of the title regardless of where Alonso finishes and will be crowned champion as long as the Spaniard does not score at least 16 points more than him.
The diverging tyre strategies have set up an intriguing race.
Alonso starts the race behind three further drivers who qualified on the soft tyre – drivers have to start the race on the tyre they set their fastest qualifying time.
Ferrari’s Felipe Massa was fifth ahead of Lotus’s Kimi Raikkonen and Sauber’s Nico Hulkenberg.
McLaren drivers Sergio Perez and Jenson Button were ninth and 10th on the medium tyre.