Lewis Hamilton posted two laps good enough to secure pole position for the Singapore Grand Prix after seeing off the challenge of weekend-long rival Sebastian Vettel by some distance.
The pair had vied for top spot through much of free practice and early qualifying, but Hamilton established the Q3 benchmark after he, Vettel and the second McLaren of Jenson Button all emerged together. Button laid down a marker but, as he has done in almost every session, Hamilton blitzed that to put himself out front. Vettel, perhaps having had to back off too much to find a gap, came in more than a second slower than the Briton's 1min 46.362secs target time.
The trio remained at the head of the field as their rivals opted only to set sector times on their first outing, before everyone re-emerged for another shot at top spot in the final few minutes. This time Hamilton was running last on the road and, while Williams' Pastor Maldonado threw a curveball to the pack by leaping into second place, no-one else could improve enough to dislodge the McLaren.
Points leader Fernando Alonso rose to third, further deposing Button, while Mark Webber and Paul di Resta both only managed fifth place, behind the Briton. When Vettel appeared, however, expectations were raised - only for the German to fail to beat Maldonado and at least grab a place on the front row. Button, too, came up short, moving back into fourth, leaving Hamilton untouched even before he completed his flying lap.
That that effort was better than anything anyone else had managed simply marked him out as the new man to beat on raceday.
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