Vettel set the top time of the day of 1 minute, 36.338 seconds despite some wind on the track, and edged teammate Mark Webber for his eighth pole of the Formula One season.
Lewis Hamilton of Mercedes took third place Saturday with a lap of 1:36.441.
Much of the qualifying was done on medium-hardness tires, which the French supplier Pirelli said would likely mean the drivers would try to limit themselves to one pit stop in the 56-lap race Sunday at which time they would switch to quicker hard tires for the final laps.
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