When the dust settled, Red Bull and Sebastian Vettel had continued their dominant qualifying performance taking first and second position for the 2012 FIA Formula One Indian Grand Prix from the Buddh International Circuit near Delhi, India.
This marks the third-consecutive grand prix in which Red Bull has locked out the front row, and Vettel's second pole in as many races. The two-time defending champion had a lap time of 1m25.283s. He is poised for a strong finish Sunday, and potentially his fourth-consecutive victory and a strong grip on the driver's championship.
"It was a very tight session," Vettel said. "It was a great weekend so far. And, no problems with the car. The boys have been pushing extremely hard. We had lots of feedback from the factory as well, which was helpful form yesterday to today."
Red Bull's Mark Webber was just .05s slower than his younger teammate with a lap time of 1m25.327s. Both Vettel and Webber said their qualifying was not as good as it could have been.
"As Seb said it wasn't the smoothest session for him and I think also the same for me," Webber said. "I did my best. It was close. It was obviously a pretty tight run between Seb and I...I was surprised to end up second to be honest, but I'll take that and we can have a good race for tomorrow"
"The team have done a great job this weekend in just trying to dial in the set up in the car," Hamilton said. "To have us on the second row, I mean we were not quick enough to be ahead of [the Red Bulls], but I think we can challenge them in the race. I think our race pace was as good as theirs in practice."
No other drivers were able to eclipse the 1m26s mark.
Massa recovered from a rocky set of practice sessions where he swapped ends multiple times, which Ferrari later attributed to a malfunction with the car.
With a renewed contract in hand, Massa has shown great promise and at times has been as fast or even faster than teammate Fernando Alonso, which should help keep former world champion and Lotus Driver Kimi Raikkonen, 1m26.236s, at bay on Sunday.
Sauber's Sergio Perez was eighth with a 1m26.360s lap time. Pastor Maldonado posted a time of 1m26.713s to take ninth for Williams, and Mercedes Nico Rosberg rounded out the top 10 without a time in Q3.
Raikkonen's Lotus teammate Romain Grosjean missed Q3 and will start the race from 11th. The young Frenchman had shown good pace, but an off and a mistake in sector 2 kept him from the last round of knockout qualifying.
other notable drivers absent from the top 10 today included both Nico Hulkenberg and Paul di Resta for Sahara Force India, Mercedes' Michael Schumacher and Williams' Bruno Senna.
Vettel dominated qualifying from the beginning of Q1. In fact, he has dominated every F1 session ever ran at the Indian circuit. The young German has never finished lower than second in any session, and does not plan on doing so in Sunday's race.
"I’m very happy to be on pole. It’s the best position to start," Vettel said. "But, there is a hard race coming up tomorrow. I think we had a bit of a surprise on Friday. In terms of long runs, everyone was quite competitive and tires seemed to last reasonably well, so we'll see what that means for strategy tomorrow."