Lewis Hamilton produced a stunning performance to secure his third pole position of the 2012 F1 season in Hungary – setting two times that were good enough to secure his spot at the head of the field.
Eager to bounce back from the disappointment of his retirement at Hockenheim last weekend, the McLaren driver responded in the best possible fashion to take his first pole since Malaysia back in March and also the 150th for the Woking-based team.
Hamilton, who had paced both Friday practice sessions, was in imperious form in the session as he set the pace in Q1, Q2 and then Q3, setting a quickest time more than four-tenths of a second clear of Romain Grosjean – who waited until his final lap to secure a front row start for the first time in his F1 career.
However, such was Hamilton's dominance at the front, the McLaren driver's second quickest time was also a tenth of a second quicker than Grosjean was able to manage.
Behind the top two, Sebastian Vettel was third fastest for Red Bull having missed out on the chance of pole when he lost time in the final sector of his final flying lap, having gone quickest of all in sector two, while Hamilton's McLaren team-mate capped a solid qualifying session for the team to join Vettel on row two.
Kimi Raikkonen's final timed of the session got him up to fifth ahead of points leader Fernando Alonso, who was almost outqualified by Ferrari team-mate Felipe Massa for the first time this season. Massa however fell less than a tenth of a second short and instead starts behind the Spaniard in seventh.
Pastor Maldonado was eighth although question marks exist over whether he was held up at all by Hamilton in Q3 – with the Briton having called over the radio to his team to ask them to warn him of quicker cars coming behind and to tell them he had almost blocked the Venezuelan by accident.
Bruno Senna, in Q3 for the first time, was ninth quickest with Nico Hulkenberg rounding out the top ten.
Senna had only made it into Q3 with his final lap of the second stage of qualifying, and it was a lap that was good enough to knock Mark Webber out of the session. Having failed to better his time on his final lap, the Australian suddenly found himself at risk as others improved and could only watch on as Hulkenberg and then Senna knocked him out of qualifying.
The Red Bull man starts eleventh as a result with Paul di Resta alongside him for Force India, while Nico Rosberg was the best of the two Mercedes drivers in what turned out to be a hugely disappointing session for the Brackley-based team.