Sebastian Vettel claimed his sixth pole position of the 2012 F1 season, but was made to work a lot harder for the honour than many expected as Lewis Hamilton pushed him all the way.
The German moved to the front of the field with his first flying lap, returning to the 1min 35secs bracket he established in Q2, but then found his every step dogged by Hamilton, the Briton getting to within five-hundredths of his adversary as both set off on their final lap. Vettel then crossed the line to lower the target time to 1min 35.657secs, and Hamilton could only get to within a tenth to annex a place on the front row, albeit the 'wrong' side in terms of likely grip.
Mark Webber put the second Red Bull on the inside of row two, with Romain Grosjean fourth fastest, although the Frenchman will drop to ninth on the grid after having had to change his gearbox prior to qualifying. That is bad news for Fernando Alonso who, having only managed the ninth best time in the final session, will now be promoted to eighth on the relatively gripless side of the grid.
Kimi Raikkonen will 'benefit' from his Lotus team-mate's problems to take fourth spot, with Michael Schumacher, Felipe Massa and Nico Hulkenberg completing the list of those who also move up. Pastor Maldonado was tenth fastest.
Full report and times to follow....