Lewis Hamilton took a big step toward winning his third straight Formula One race Saturday by claiming the pole position for the Hungarian Grand Prix.
The McLaren driver set a fastest lap of 1 minute, 20.899 seconds for his 10th career pole and second straight at the twisting Hungaroring track. Hamilton was more than two-tenths of a second faster than teammate Heikki Kovalainen to give McLaren a 1-2 front row Sunday.
Ferrari's Felipe Massa will start from third ahead of Robert Kubica of BMW Sauber. Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen is sixth, behind Timo Glock of Toyota.
The 23-year-old Hamilton, who was fastest through all three practice sessions, is vying to become the fifth repeat winner and first Briton since Damon Hill 12 years ago to win three straight races.
"It's very satisfying," Hamilton said. "We're in a good position; we've really done a great job this weekend."
Coming off wins at Silverstone and Hockenheim, Hamilton showed why McLaren is in control of the championship with its first 1-2 front row since last year's Italian GP.
"It's been a pretty decent weekend. The pace of the car is great. I think it's a great day to have me and Heikki 1-2 _ it's about time we did that," said Hamilton, who leads Massa by four points and Raikkonen by seven in the standings.
"(Kovalainen is) pushing me hard, but that's a good thing."
Massa was encouraged despite Ferrari failing to match its principal rival for the second straight race.
"I think we're pretty strong," the Brazilian said. "We didn't seem to be very strong this morning but looking at the lap times from (the first two sessions), I think we are there."
Massa was in control after the second session with a lap time that was fractionally better than Michael Schumacher's track record, but then got bogged down in traffic during the final 10-minute timing.
"The lap wasn't perfect. ... The traffic meant I couldn't prepare my tires," Massa said.
McLaren redeemed itself from a strategy mistake at Hockenheim by correctly letting its drivers keep the harder tires on with the track temperature steadily rising.
"That was my decision to keep it," Hamilton said.
Hamilton started on the pole last year after former teammate Fernando Alonso held him up on a pit stop in the final qualifying session. The 30-second delay cost Hamilton a final flying lap and the Spaniard a five-place penalty.
Hamilton went on to win, but McLaren lost all of its constructors' points from the race and an already uncomfortable feeling within the team was exacerbated.
Kovalainen, who has extended his contract at McLaren through next season, isn't about to concede the race to Hamilton.
"He did a better job but I'm still in a good position. I can imagine tomorrow, I think it will be an interesting race," the Finn said. "I'll attack tomorrow from the start."
Raikkonen, the defending world champion, continued to struggle since the French GP and will start ahead of Renault's Alonso, Red Bull's Mark Webber, Jarno Trulli of Toyota and Nelson Piquet Jr. of Renault.
Raikkonen took the blame for a second straight sixth-place qualifying finish and couldn't explain why.
"The car wasn't too bad, but I went off and couldn't stay on the circuit," he said. "I didn't really have it together."
Nick Heidfeld's qualifying woes continued. The BMW Sauber driver failed to make it out of the first session after running wide at the final turn on his flying lap, although he moved up one place to start 15th after Toro Rosso's Sebastien Bourdias was ruled to have impeded him during the session.
Heidfeld's hopes of staying with Hamilton will be tough at the tight Hungaroring circuit, where overtaking is nearly impossible. The 31-year-old German trails Hamilton by 17 points.
"I'm totally disappointed," Heidfeld said of his worst qualifying result of the season.