Greater Noida: Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel scorched his way to the pole position for Sunday’s Formula One Indian Grand Prix while Force India can hope to score points in the first ever home race with Adrian Sutil qualifying for the eighth position on the grid here on Saturday.

Vettel, running on soft tyres, clocked 1:24.178 to secure 13th pole position of the 2011 season, pipping McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton by 0.296 secs Vettel’s teammate Mark Webber (1:24.508) was third Hamilton will actually start from fifth position due a three-place grid penalty for ignoring a flag warning.

Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso was fourth, followed by McLaren’s Jenson Button. Up next was Ferrari’s Felipe Massa, who crashed in the final seconds after hitting the raised part of a kerb. Fortunately, the Brazilian was not injured.

Force India’s second driver Paul di Resta did better than the final practice session in the morning but could not make the Q3 and settled for 13th position after clocking 1:26.503, just behind Mercedes GP's Michael Schumacher.

India’s Narain Karthikeyan did well to finish in 22nd position, just behind Hispania teammate Daniel Ricciardo.

Karthikeyan, however, was handed a five-place grid penalty for impeding Michael Schumacher's car during the qualifying, which means that the Indian will have to start his home Grand prix from the 24th and last position despite finishing 22nd.

Pole position holder Vettel, meanwhile, said today's qualifying was not simple and that the race tomorrow will be a long one.

"I am happy to be here. The car was fantastic. In the end, the first sector was quite tricky. It will be a long race. It is a new track. We do not know how the tires respond. We will find out exactly what tires do tomorrow. Ideally we want to finish 1-2. It is going to be an interesting race. It was not a simple qualifying," said Vettell.

"There is a long straight on turn 3. It is good to be here. It is a great race. My first time in India and excited to race tomorrow. The beginning of the race will be critical.

They really have done a good job on this track. You do not see any problems here except a bit of dust. I think it is very special to be pole here," he added.

Vettel, with 28 career poles to his name, is now equal sixth in the all-time standings alongside five-time champion Juan Manuel Fangio.

"I am proud to reach records such as Fangio's 28th record. I am not an expert in figures. But it is great to be part of a sport with so many records. I am equalling Fangio's and I am pleased. But I am motivated even without knowing the figures and statistics. Fangio reached 28 poles in 51 races – I reached 28 poles in 79 races.

"We have been practicing for two days to see what we can expect. There is a lot of dust for sure. We have had some incident over the weekend. But nothing has happened yet. It is good," Vettel said.

McLaren Merecedes' Hamilton, who will start fifth on Sunday despite finishing second in the qualifying session because of a three-place penalty handed out to him for ignoring yellow flags during the first practice session on Friday, was happy with his overall position.

"It has been a good day today for me. A pity we had the penalty. A silly mistake from myself and I pay the price. I am optimistic. My first lap was very good. Overall, very happy with my position. This is as good as I could get. The track is really great.

"The track is not breaking up. It is really fantastic to drive. Congratulations to the people who built the track. Through the session you put a bit more front wing," Hamilton said.

Vettel's teammate Webber felt a lot of hard work lies in store for his team.

"I thought I would be starting third, but I am starting second. It is tricky to work out the right strategy. We have to work out hard to get the best lap time out of the car. I could have done better in the first sector. But overall good job for the team. It will be a good race tomorrow. It was an interesting session. It is a lot down to strategy," he said.

"First sector is very tricky. After that I was happy in the lap. There sere some yellow flags. But I feel much happier with the car. We are at the point of the season where we can try a few things and try to improve the car. In the end, we went back to our original strategy. It is the smoothest track in the world. It is pretty quick and exciting. When people make some errors, it will be a problem for them," Webber added.

(Agencies)