• Maldonado second on grid, Vettel third
Lewis Hamilton made it three poles in four races here today for tomorrow's Singapore Grand Prix.
Hamilton had a memorable battle with Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel, but in the end the German went quicker in Q2 than Q3 and the pair were divided by the Williams of Pastor Maldonado, who will line up with the McLaren man on the front row.
This is the first time since 1999 that McLaren have won four poles in a row. Vettel had to make do with third place with Jenson Button fourth, followed by Fernando Alonso and Paul di Resta.
It was another wonderful drive from Hamilton, though he looked a subdued figure when it was all over. "Look happy," the photographers implored.
"He's creating barriers around him – he realizes the championship is achievable," said Martin Whitmarsh, the McLaren team principal afterwards, suggesting that all the recent speculation had actually helped his star driver.
Hamilton didn't look happy. But he said he was: "The guys have done a fantastic job all week. Sebastian was incredibly fast through most of the sessions so I'm very happy that I managed to pull that time out at the end. Trying to find a gap in qualifying is hard and making sure everything is up to temperature is hard too so I feel very fortunate that I got the time I needed."
Vettel didn't look too happy either, with more reason. He said: "I'm a little disappointed, especially with Q3. Nevertheless it's a good place to start from on the grid. The pace is there within the car but we didn't do the last step in qualifying and it's a shame it didn't come together at the end."
Red Bull team principal Christian Horner said: "We were looking good in Q2 but we lost the rhythm in Q3, particularly with the out laps. It's a long hard race in Singapore and hopefully we can have a good start tomorrow."
There had been very disappointed casualties in Q2, with Kimi Raikkonen, Felipe Massa, Sergio Perez and Nico Hulkenberg all going out of the final shoot-out. But Michael Schumacher squeezed in with a neat last lap.