Sebastian Vettel put himself in perfect position to increase his Formula One championship points lead, capturing pole position at the inaugural U.S. Grand Prix in Austin with a blistering 1:35.877 lap on Saturday.
The entire field struggled to find their pace on the unfamiliar track, as Pirelli brought medium and hard compound tires that weren’t optimal for the heat and demands of the Circuit of the Americas. Vettel seemed comfortable from the very first practice lap, but only Lewis Hamilton of McLaren could match his sub-1:36.000 lap.
Behind Vettel and Hamilton on the front row, Mark Webber of Red Bull and Romain Grosjean of Lotus will start in third and fourth. Kimi Raikkonen, winner of the previous race in Abu Dhabi, qualified fifth and Michael Schumacher of Mercedes came in sixth.
The big disappointments of the session with the two Ferrari entries. Fernando Alonso, sitting just ten points behind Vettel in their two-man race for the season championship, could only manage a 1:37.300 lap to qualify in ninth place, severely hindering his chances of gaining ground in the title chase. Massa posted a 1:36.937 and will start seventh.
The green flag will drop on the U.S. Grand Prix Sunday at 1:30pm ET and is broadcast on SPEED Channel.