Singapore: McLaren driver Lewis Hamilton maintained his team's improved form by claiming pole position on Saturday for the Singapore Grand Prix, and with a handy buffer to his Formula One championship rivals.
Hamilton gave McLaren its fourth consecutive pole position for the first time since 1999, and his victory chances in Sunday's race were boosted by Williams' Pastor Maldonado snatching a surprise second place in qualifying.
"We have put ourselves in the best position, so we need to capitalize on that," Hamilton said. "It's an incredibly tough track for tire degradation ... and everyone will struggle with that."
Red Bull driver Sebastian Vettel qualified third after being the fastest in all three practice sessions. He was surprised he couldn't manage at least a front-row spot.
"A little disappointed, especially Q3," Vettel said. "It's a shame it didn't come together at the end."
Jenson Button of McLaren qualified fourth, ahead of Fernando Alonso of Ferrari, who holds a 37-point lead over Hamilton in the championship standings with seven races to go.
Force India's Paul di Resta equaled a career best by qualifying sixth, one place ahead of Red Bull's Mark Webber, who could be hauled before stewards to defend interference he allegedly caused to Marussia's Timo Glock in the first qualifying session.
Lotus' Romain Grosjean will start from eighth, recovering from heavy contact with a wall earlier in the qualifying session. The Frenchman again beat teammate Kimi Raikkonen, who was down in 12th, dealing a blow to his championship challenge.
Mercedes pair Michael Schumacher and Nico Rosberg finished ninth and 10th, having failed to set times in Q3. Insteadm they only managed formation laps on harder tires, meaning they will start on that rubber in the race and ensuring they have a different strategy to the cars ahead.
Felipe Massa of Ferrari qualified 13th place, a place ahead of Sauber's Sergio Perez, who finished second in the previous race but whose car had been off the pace throughout practice.