Singapore – McLaren's Lewis Hamilton topped Pastor Maldonado from Williams and Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel in Saturday's qualifying to claim the pole for the Singapore Grand Prix.
Hamilton's pole win in Singapore comes as a bit of surprise since Vettel was quickest in all three practice sessions. Hamilton posted a time around the 3.152-mile, 23-turn Marina Bay Street Circuit in 1 minute, 46.362 seconds for his fifth pole of the season, including three in the last four grand prix.
"The guys have done a fantastic job all week," said Hamilton, who notched his 24th career pole in Formula One. "Sebastian was incredibly fast through most of the sessions, but I'm not sure what happened to him at the end. I'm very happy that I was able to put that time up during that great lap."
Hamilton gave McLaren its fourth straight pole, marking the first time the team has accomplished that feat since 1999. His teammate, Jenson Button, earned the top starting position for the Belgian Grand Prix. Hamilton has also won two of the last three races, including the most recent one earlier this month in Monza, Italy.
Maldonado's surprising last lap of 1:46.804 in Q3 earned him the outside pole. It's the second time he will start on the front row this season. Maldonado started on the pole and won the May 13 Spanish Grand Prix in Barcelona.
"I think we are working very hard, because in the beginning of the weekend during practice, we were a little bit lost with the setup," Maldonado said. "We were improving during qualifying, just trying to get the car to my style. We found a very well balanced car in Q2 and Q3. I'm really looking forward to the race."
Vettel, the two-time defending F1 world champion, qualified third. He won last year's Singapore GP from the pole.
"I'm a little disappointed, especially with Q3," Vettel said. "Nevertheless, it's a good position to start from. It's a long race tomorrow, and a lot of things can happen. I think the pace is there."
Button took the fourth spot, followed by Fernando Alonso from Ferrari. Alonso enters this race with 37-point lead in the championship standings.
Paul di Resta from Force India qualified sixth, while Mark Webber placed his Red Bull car seventh on the grid. Lotus' Romain Grosjean will start eighth. Grosjean returns after serving a one-race suspension for causing a multi-car wreck during the opening lap in the Sept. 2 Belgian Grand Prix.
Mercedes drivers Michael Schumacher and Nico Rosberg will roll off ninth and tenth from the grid, respectively. Schumacher and Rosberg did not make a qualifying run during Q3 due to tire strategy for Sunday's race.
The 61-lap Singapore GP is scheduled to start at 8 a.m. (ET).