AUSTIN, Texas (AP) -- Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel secured the pole position for the U.S. Grand Prix, putting him in the perfect spot to chase his third consecutive world championship.
Driving the new $400 million Circuit of the Americas, Vettel dominated three practice sessions before securing the pole Saturday with a blistering round of qualifying. Vettel's fastest lap was 1 minute, 35.657 seconds.
Ferrari's Fernando Alonso was a distant ninth in qualifying, 1.643 seconds slower than Vettel. Alonso trails Vettel by 10 points in the drivers' championship.
If Vettel wins Sunday, Alonso must finish no worse than fourth to force the championship into the final race of the season next week in Brazil.
Sunday's race with be Formula One's first in the U.S. since Indianapolis in 2007.