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Vettel on pole as Red Bulls dominate in Indian qualifying

updated 12:35 PM EDT, Sat October 27, 2012
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • F1 championship leader Sebastian Vettel on pole for Sunday's Indian Grand Prix
  • German heads off Red Bull teammate Mark Webber in Saturday's qualifying
  • The duo have locked out the front row of the grid for three races in a row
  • Vettel's main title challenger Fernando Alonso will start in fifth place

(CNN) -- Sebastian Vettel usurped Fernando Alonso as Formula One's youngest double world champion, and all the signs are now pointing to the prospect of the German beating his Spanish rival to a coveted third title.

The Ferrari driver led by 44 points with nine races to go, but Vettel now holds a six-point advantage going into Sunday's Indian Grand Prix -- where the Red Bull driver will start in pole position as he seeks to repeat last year's victory at the Buddh International Circuit.

The 25-year-old, who has won the last three races, topped Saturday's qualifying session ahead of teammate Mark Webber and will have the McLarens of Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button creating a buffer against Alonso, who was fifth fastest.

"We got a very good result and now we look forward to the race," said Vettel, who like Webber admitted to making mistakes in Q3.

"The races these days, a lot of things can happen so I don't think that means a lot. Obviously I'm very happy to be on pole, it's the best possible position to start, so yeah, I'm very happy with that but there's a hard race coming up."

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Red Bull's Mark Webber is one of the biggest names in Formula One. The Australian has vast experience on the grid but the origins of his motorsport career lie in go-karts. Red Bull's Mark Webber is one of the biggest names in Formula One. The Australian has vast experience on the grid but the origins of his motorsport career lie in go-karts.
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Webber is fifth overall, 63 points behind Vettel, and has helped Red Bull march towards a third successive manufacturers' title.

The duo have now been on the front row for three successive races, and last time out in Korea Webber earned his first podium since winning at Silverstone in July.

"I think the way the factory has helped us this weekend has been incredible," the Australian said.

"Milton Keynes has really been pushing hard -- even though they're not here they are with us in terms of work ethic and also for the team and the guys on the floor here.

"Obviously it's not the easiest environment to work in, not in terms of temperature but in terms of other challenges and everyone's getting through that pretty well."

Ferrari coy in flag controversy

Alonso, whose teammate Felipe Massa qualified sixth, acknowledged that Ferrari had been left behind by Red Bull's recent technical improvements.

"When we had a similar car, it was possible to fight with Vettel and we have even been ahead of them, but now we are fighting against (designer) Adrian Newey and, at the moment, we cannot match him," the 31-year-old said.

"We brought some updates here which have worked as we expected, but the others have also improved over these past two weeks: it's down to us to bring something more significant for the final three races."

While Hamilton and Button are effectively out of the title race, third-placed Kimi Raikkonen still has slim hopes of adding to his 2007 crown -- though his chances of success on Sunday were hit when he qualified seventh as the leading Lotus.

"Unfortunately, we didn't seem to have any grip this afternoon so it was much more difficult than we thought," the Finn said.

"I'm quite disappointed as I thought we had a much better car than that."

Sauber's Sergio Perez, who will replace Hamilton at McLaren next season, was eighth fastest ahead of Williams' Pastor Maldonado.

Nico Rosberg rounded out the top 10, while his Mercedes teammate Michael Schumacher will start in 14th place.

"We had a tough qualifying session today and I cannot yet really explain why, particularly when I compare the times to what I did this morning," said the seven-time world champion.

"In practice, we were able to run similar lap times with much more fuel in the car but, for whatever reason, we were unable to get the tires into the right working window and generate enough grip this afternoon."

Meanwhile, MotoGP world champion Casey Stoner will start in pole position for his farewell race at his home circuit in Australia on Sunday.

The Honda rider, who will retire from motorcycling at the end of this season, headed off Yamaha's series leader Jorge Lorenzo and second-placed Dani Pedrosa in Saturday's qualifying.

Stoner, who has had a corner at the Phillip Island circuit named after him, is third in the standings but his chances of a second world title were ended earlier this season by injuries.

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