McLaren's Lewis Hamilton continued his surge in the second half of the season by nailing down pole position for the Formula One Singapore Grand Prix 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 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 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.
Alonso clocked the fifth fastest time but the Spaniard has made a habit of picking up big points in his Ferrari 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 Paul di Resta, Red Bull's Mark Webber, Romain Grosjean in a Lotus, and the Mercedes duo of Michael Schumacher and Nico Rosberg, who both opted against setting timed laps in the final qualifying run.