Hamilton sends out title warning after romping to Singapore Grand Prix pole
14:35 GMT, 22 September 2012
Lewis Hamilton has secured pole position for Sunday's Singapore Grand Prix after blowing away the rest of the field at the Marina Bay Street Circuit.
Hamilton was half-a-second quicker than his closest challenge, with accident-prone Pastor Maldonado lining up alongside the McLaren star.
That's handy: Hamilton celebrates his fifth pole position of the season
Singapore Grand Prix qualification
1. Lewis Hamilton (McLaren)
2. Pastor Maldonado (Williams)
3. Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull)
4. Jenson Button (McLaren)
5. Fernando Alonso (Ferrari)
6. Paul Di Resta (Force India)
7. Mark Webber (Red Bull)
8. Romain Grosjean (Lotus)
9. Michael Schumacher (Mercedes)
10. Nico Rosberg (Mercedes)
Sebastian Vettel could manage only third, with Jenson Button fourth and championship leader Fernando Alonso qualifying fifth.
It is the first time since 1999 McLaren have claimed four successive pole positions, with Hamilton now in prime spot for his fourth win this year as he aims to close the 37-point gap to championship leader Fernando Alonso of Ferrari.
Vettel won this race from pole last year and had been quickest in all three practice sessions, but had no answer to Hamilton's lap of one minute 46.362 seconds.
Top three: Hamilton will start Sunday's grand prix ahead of Pastor Maldonado and Sebastian Vettel
Force India's Paul Di Resta conjured a
superb sixth, with Red Bull's Mark Webber seventh but under
investigation and facing a five-place penalty for impeding Marussia's
Timo Glock in Q1, whilst Lotus' Romain Grosjean starts eighth.
On the fifth row will be Mercedes'
duo Michael Schumacher and Nico Rosberg, neither driver setting a time
after using up all three sets of their supersoft tyres in the first two
Under the lights: Hamilton obliterated the rest of the field on Saturday
Nico Hulkenberg found himself ousted
from Q2 at the death by the last man on track in Schumacher, leaving
the younger German to start 11th in his Force India.
Another title contender Kimi
Raikkonen, third in the standings and 38 points behind Alonso, could
only manage 12th in his Lotus, claiming he had no grip from his tyres.
Championship contenders: Fernando Alonso (left) qualified fifth while Sebastian Vettel will start in third
For the ninth time in 14 qualifying
sessions this season Felipe Massa failed to make it into the top 10,
lining up 13th for Ferrari.
Sauber's Sergio Perez, second just a
fortnight ago in Italy, starts 14th ahead of Toro Rosso pair Daniel
Ricciardo and Jean-Eric Vergne. Williams' Bruno Senna will start 17th
after he smacked a wall with his right-rear wheel, breaking the
suspension and taking no further action in the session.
Star man: Hamilton will start Sunday's Singapore Grand Prix from pole position
Just two races after starting on the
front row in Belgium, Sauber's Kamui Kobayashi was the big-name scalp
who failed to make it out of Q1, blaming a lack of confidence with an
over-steering car in which he will line up 18th.
In team order, Caterham's Vitaly Petrov managed to out-qualify Heikki Kovalainen, with the duo starting 19th and 20th.
At Marussia, Glock finished ahead of
Charles Pic, who tomorrow will have 20 seconds added to his race time
after passing four red lights and overtaking a rival in final practice.
Flying high: The McLaren star is gunning for his fourth victory of the season
In a unique move the stewards have
also ordered Pic to perform a day of community service for the FIA's
Action for Road Safety campaign.
On the back row are HRT duo Narain
Karthikeyan and Pedro de la Rosa, the latter's five-place penalty for a
gearbox change an irrelevance.
After claiming the 24th pole of his career, Hamilton said: 'The guys have done a fantastic job all weekend.
'Coming here with some small things added from the last race and on a high-downforce track we were not sure how it would work out.
'But the session was great, although I'm not sure what happened with Sebastian who had been fastest all the way through before that.
As for the race it is tough with high tyre degradation, so everyone is going to struggle.
'I'll have to get away cleanly. We'll stick to the strategy we have planned and be prepared if it doesn't work.'
For Maldonado and another amazing lap he said: 'We've been working very hard because we were a bit lost at the beginning with set-up.
'But we found very good balance in Q2 and Q3, and now I'm looking forward to the race.'
Vettel admitted to being 'a little disappointed' with his lap, adding: 'I'm not sure why we couldn't make the step.
'But third is still a good place. It's a long race, the pace is there, but if you don't make the last step then it's a shame.'