McLaren's [ Images ] Lewis Hamilton [ Images ] continued his surge in the second half of the season by nailing down pole position for the Formula One Singapore Grand Prix [ Images ] with a stirring drive around the Marina Bay Street Circuit on Saturday.
The Briton has won two of the last three races to close within 37 points of championship leader Fernando Alonso [ Images ] with seven rounds remaining, and will be confident of converting McLaren's fourth consecutive pole into a fourth successive team victory.
Hamilton won this race in 2009 and became the first man to secure pole here twice with a lap of 1 minute 46.362 seconds, almost half a second ahead of Williams' Pastor Maldonado, who drove brilliantly to claim a front row spot.
World champion Sebastian Vettel [ Images ] had dominated the three practice sessions prior to qualifying but his Red Bull could only finish third in 1:46.905, narrowly ahead of Hamilton's McLaren team mate Jenson Button [ Images ].
Alonso clocked the fifth fastest time but the Spaniard has made a habit of picking up big points in his Ferrari [ Images ] despite qualifying down the grid and will be looking for a similar performance on Sunday at a circuit where he has won twice.
The top 10 was rounded out by Force India's [ Images ] Paul di Resta, Red Bull's Mark Webber [ Images ], Romain Grosjean in a Lotus, and the Mercedes [ Images ] duo of Michael Schumacher [ Images ] and Nico Rosberg [ Images ], who both opted against setting timed laps in the final qualifying run.