An accident in the final phase of qualifying may have left the battle for pole as something of an anti-climax for fans, but Lewis Hamilton and McLaren weren't complaining after the current F1 champion secured top spot on the grid for the Singapore Grand Prix.
Hamilton had posted the quickest time in the opening skirmishes of Q3, but faced a challenge to keep Red Bull duo Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel - as well as the Williams of Nico Rosberg – behind him when the top ten drivers headed out onto the circuit for their final laps.
However, when Rubens Barrichello went off into the wall at turn five with just over 30 seconds remaining and brought out the red flags, Hamilton's position at the head of the field was secured.
The Briton had set the pace during Q1 but then dropped to fourth during the low-fuel runs in Q2, as Rosberg produced a stunning lap to set the pace.
The Williams man was then the first driver on track in Q3 to set the early benchmark although both Vettel and Hamilton were able to beat him before returning to the pits for new tyres.
Rosberg in particular was on a quick lap when the red flags came out after Barrichello was caught out on a bump going into turn five. Despite trying to correct his error, the Brazilian couldn't avoid contact with the tyres on the outside of the circuit, damaging the rear left and then rear front of the car and leaving Brawn with work to do ahead of Sunday evening's race.
Behind Hamilton, Vettel and Rosberg, Mark Webber secured fourth on the grid in what proved to be a strong session for Red Bull as the Milton Keynes-based squad seeks to make inroads into Brawn's points lead, while Barrichello ended up fifth quickest. However, with the Brazilian taking a five place grid penalty due to gearbox change, he will start tenth on the grid.
That penalty promotes Fernando Alonso to fifth as he looks to defend his controversial race win of twelve months ago, with Timo Glock leading the Toyota challenge in sixth. BMW duo Nick Heidfeld and Robert Kubica and the second McLaren of Heikki Kovalainen start seventh, eighth and ninth.
Outside the top ten, two of the big names failed to make it past the second phase of qualifying – with one of the pair being championship leader Jenson Button.