The two contenders for this year's Formula One crown, Germany's Sebastian Vettel and Spain's Fernando Alonso, will start fourth and seventh, respectively, in Sunday's season-ending Brazilian Grand Prix, while England's Lewis Hamilton grabbed pole position.
Hamilton, who drives for McLaren and snagged his seventh pole of the season and 26th of his career, covered the 4.31 kilometers (2.67 miles) of Sao Paulo's Autodromo Jose Carlos Pace in 1 minute, 12.458 on Saturday.
Vettel, who leads the Drivers' standings with 273 points, 13 ahead of Alonso, qualified in fourth with a lap of 1 minute, 12.760.
Alonso had the eighth-fastest time of 1 minute, 13.253, but he was bumped up to the seventh spot after Williams driver Pastor Maldonado received a 10-place grid penalty for failing to heed a call to bring his car to the weighbridge.
The 31-year-old Spaniard, who drives for Ferrari and is a two-time Formula One champion, said Friday he knows what he has to do in the final race to wrest this year's title from Vettel.
How each fares on Sunday will determine whether Alonso or the 25-year-old German becomes the youngest driver to win three world crowns.
"We know we have to score 14 points more than Vettel for the Championship and not lose the same number to McLaren to maintain our second place in the Constructors," Alonso said in a statement issued by his team.
"Our targets are clear, but also difficult to achieve," he said.
The track in Sao Paulo is where Alonso celebrated his F1 titles in 2005 and 2006, but he has never won the Brazilian Grand Prix.
Vettel, who drives for Red Bull, triumphed in the 2010 edition of the event. EFE