Red Bull’s world champion, who is looking to equal Michael Schumacher’s record of 13 race wins in the same season, beat Nico Rosberg of Mercedes by three-quarters of a second in rain-delayed qualifying. Behind Rosberg on the grid will be Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso and the other Red Bull and Mercedes cars, driven by Mark Webber and Lewis Hamilton respectively.
In the first session, the surprise package was Heikki Kovalainen, who put in a great lap to finish P5. But in his last weekend with Williams, Pastor Maldonado failed to make it to Q2, along with Esteban Gutiérrez, Charles Pic, Giedo Van der Garde, Jules Bianchi and Max Chilton.
In Q2, which was topped by Romain Grosjean, followed by Vettel, the six who failed to make it to the top-10 shootout were Kovalainen, Paul di Resta, Valtteri Bottas, Sergio Pérez – who crashed out on Turn Five – Jenson Button and Adrian Sutil.
It was the fourth time this season that McLaren had failed to get a car in Q3. This could be the first time that McLaren fail to win a podium in a season since 1980 and the first time since 1966 that they have failed to reach the top four.