NEW DELHI -- Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel topped qualifying Saturday for the inaugural Indian Grand Prix for his 13th pole of the season, one short of Nigel Mansell's 1992 Formula One record.
Vettel turned a lap in 1 minute, 24.178 seconds on the 3.192-mile Buddh International Circuit. The German star has already wrapped up his second straight season title and has 10 victories this year.
"It's a new circuit, new track for all of us, which makes things tricky," Vettel said. "I'm extremely happy. It's an interesting race, a challenging circuit, so I am looking forward to tomorrow."
Ayrton Senna (1988 and 1989) and Alain Prost (1993) also had 13 poles in a season.
McLaren's Lewis Hamilton was second, three-tenths of a second back, but will drop down to fifth on the starting grid Sunday because of a rules infraction practice Friday when he ignored a yellow flag.
"Overtaking should be easier here than in other places, so I am still optimistic about tomorrow," said Hamilton, a two-time winner this year.
Ferrari's Felipe Massa qualified seventh, but crashed on the final lap when his right-front suspension broke going over a curb, sending him skidding into a barrier.