Untouchable Sebastian Vettel pips Red Bull team-mate Webber at United States Grand Prix and Lotus consider former McLaren driver Perez for 2014 lineup
"Shake'n bake, baby! Shake 'n bake!" Sebastian Vettel roared as he crossed the line to snatch his 44th career pole from Red Bull team mate Mark Webber.
The quadruple world champion's pilfering of the catchphrase from the Will Ferrell comedy Talladega Nights, about fictional NASCAR driver Ricky Bobby, will have gone down well with the locals here in Texas.
Not so much with the rest of Formula One, however, which could only raise a weary collective eyebrow at the continued hegemony of Red Bull, whose two drivers were nearly a second quicker than the rest of the field.
There is just no stopping Red Bull at the moment. On team principal Christian Horner's 40th birthday, this was a fifth front row lockout of the season. It was also Vettel's eighth pole of the season and 44th in total.
A win on Sunday would mean a record eighth consecutive win in a single season for the 26 year-old and, with only Brazil to come after Austin, keep Vettel on course to equal Alberto Ascari's record of nine consecutive wins in total, which he set during the 1952/53 seasons, as well as Michael Schumacher's record of 13 wins in a season.
"I'm trying not to think much about these things," Vettel said afterwards. "I think it is not the right mindset to go into a race thinking about a higher target than just the race. I've done well with that kind of approach so far so I don't see any reason to change."
Vettel's best lap of one minute 36.338 seconds was set under overcast skies, with Webber threatening to take his third pole in four races.
Frenchman Romain Grosjean, still chasing his first win, put Lotus third on the grid with Germany's Nico Hulkenberg a fine fourth for Sauber.
Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton, a winner in Texas last year for McLaren, will start fifth alongside Ferrari's Fernando Alonso, who hurt his back in Abu Dhabi and was only given the all-clear to race after a medical on Thursday.
McLaren's disastrous season continued, however, with Jenson Button missing the final top 10 shootout. Although the 2009 world champion qualified 13th, he will start 15th on the grid after various penalties have been meted out.
Paddock gossip this week, when not concerned with the ongoing $140m High Court action against Formula One's chief executive Bernie Ecclestone, has centred almost exclusively on the driver market for
McLaren's decision to jettison Sergio Perez has added a new dimension to proceedings, with Lotus now weighing up the merits of the Mexican as well as the sponsor-backed Pastor Maldonado and the quick but impoverished Nico Hulkenberg.
Until the Enstone team make a decision - which may yet boil down to whether they can complete a deal with investors Quantum Motorsports - the rest of the pitlane is likely to watch and wait.
If they can get some new investment then Hulkenberg is the preferred option. If not then Maldonado, who comes with about £30m of backing from Venezuelan oil giant PDVSA, is deemed the most likely alternative.
PDVSA president Rafael Ramirez admitted this weekend that Lotus were his preferred option although it is not yet clear how the PDVSA backing would work with Lotus' current sponsors Total, who back Grosjean.
Maldonado caused a major fuss after going out in Q1 on Saturday while team mate Valtteri Bottas ended the first session top of the timesheets.
Williams were forced to deny that they deliberately sabotaged his qualifying session after the Venezuelan suggested that someone had tampered with his car's temperature and pressure settings.
Asked to clarify his apparent accusation, Maldonado added: "You need to ask the team, the guys that are working on the car, it is quite clear."
Williams' deputy team principal, Claire Williams, refuted the allegation.
"Qualifying is a big adrenaline rush for drivers and so I'm not surprised by that, people say things after these kind of situations,"
she said. "We will go back and talk to the engineers and find out what happened but never in Williams' history would we ever do anything like that."