Sebastian Vettel produced an astonishing lap in the final phase of qualifying to secure pole position for the Indian Grand Prix – putting himself in the ideal position to wrap up a fourth successive F1 title in Sunday's race.
The Red Bull man continued his unbeaten run in qualifying at the Buddh International Circuit to take pole for the third successive season, breaking the qualifying lap record he set in taking top spot for the inaugural race back in 2011.
Vettel's pole lap – set on soft tyres - came on his first run of Q3 when he went more than a second quicker than team-mate Mark Webber had been able to manage on medium rubber.
Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton would both make a bid to try and catch Vettel but came nowhere close despite switching to fresh rubber for their timed runs, with Rosberg more than seven-tenths of a second down in second place and Hamilton a further tenth back in third.
Webber's qualifying performance was arguably as impressive as that of his team-mate, with the Australian securing fourth on the grid despite running on the slower medium compound tyre, with Felipe Massa and Kimi Raikkonen – both on the soft tyre – rounding out the top six.
For Lotus man Raikkonen, that marked his first top six qualifying result since the Hungarian Grand Prix back in July.
Nico Hulkenberg was seventh for Sauber ahead of the medium-shod Ferrari of Fernando Alonso and McLaren pair Sergio Perez and Jenson Button, both of whom also went for medium rubber.
Vettel had earlier posted the best time in Q2, lapping nearly 1.5secs that he had in making it through the first part of the session.
With the expected contenders on track making the top-ten shootout, it was very much a case of seeing where the remaining drivers would be able to line-up, with Daniel Ricciardo emerging as best of those not to make it.