Sebastian Vettel claimed pole in qualifying to put himself within touching distance of notching his fourth Formula One title at the Buddh International Circuit near New Delphi, India.
The German can finish as low as fifth to secure the championship under his own steam, regardless of where Fernando Alonso places on race day. The only way that the Spaniard can overcome Vettel is to somehow score at least 16 more points than his season rival.
However, tyre strategies could well put paid to any suggestions that Vettel's ascent to another F1 crown will be nothing more than a routine and unopposed procession to victory.
With his first place on the starting grid secured using the quick yet short-lived soft tyres, the championship leader will have to pit early in order to swap over to his medium set.
In line with current regulations, all drivers must start the race on the tyre compound with which they recorded their fastest time in qualifying.
Red Bull's gamble may have fired Vettel to his third consecutive Indian Grand Prix pole since 2011, but with the star man set to begin the race with diminished grip due to his less robust tyre type, he may yet have to battle his way back up through the field.
Finishing above fifth should be well within his capabilities, though. The champion may elect to prove his value by working that little bit harder to lift himself over the line.
The reigning champion backs himself to make up for a loss of race pace due to his tyre choice, according to BBC Sport: "The race is long and you will have plenty of time to make up [any deficit]. In the end, I think the strategies shouldn't determine the result that much."
Behind the Red Bull ace on the starting grid will be his Mercedes rivals Nico Rosberg in second and Lewis Hamilton in third. They are the only competitors to have beaten Vettel on a Grand Prix Sunday since May.
Yet neither believes he can top the man once again on pole in India, according to Sky Sports. Hamilton admitted as early as Friday that he couldn't see himself beating the championship leader either in qualifying or the race proper.
Responding to questions during a post-practice press conference, the Englishman answered bluntly when asked if pole was out of the question: "Yes."
Both Mercedes drivers also qualified on soft tyres and could face a similar drop back into the field while they wait to swap over to their firmer compound.
In fourth, Mark Webber will begin on medium tyres and look to leapfrog the trio ahead of him. The Australian is keen to ensure his part in Red Bull's one-two domination throughout the practice and qualifying sessions continues into the race on Sunday.
Should he be able to wrest control of pole position and deny Vettel's rivals of the highest scoring finish possible on the day, he could ensure that his teammate ends the race as champion.
Alonso also qualified using the medium tyres and will start in eighth. The early laps could turn out to be a straight shootout with Webber for the top spot, with Felipe Massa, Kimi Raikkonen and Nico Hulkenberg ahead of the Spaniard on softs.
With first and second place potentially stolen by the two men on mediums, Vettel's objective will be to steer clear of any potential opening chaos in order to secure safe passage to the pit lane. From there, he will hope his superior car and ability can carry him through his other soft starting opponents and any of the other low-lying drivers who may be able to sneak up into the top five places.
A full list of the qualification results and starting positions for the Indian Grand Prix 2013 can be found below:
|Grid Position||Driver||Team||Starting Tyre Type|
|12||Di Resta||Force India||Soft|
|20||Van der Garde||Caterham||Medium|