Lewis Hamilton secured pole for tomorrow’s Singapore Grand Prix but there was disappointment for championship leader Jenson Button as his world title hopes were dealt a blow.
Hamilton, whose engineers worked through the night to fit a new chassis for his McLaren, impressed in practice earlier today and took that form into qualifying as he clocked a time of one minute 47.891 seconds in Q3 at the Marina Bay street circuit.
In contrast, Button had struggled in practice after his Brawn GP car had been switched to the same set-up as team-mate Rubens Barrichello earlier today and though they reverted it to yesterday’s settings, the 29-year-old could only qualify in 12th place.
Barrichello, who will be looking to cut into Button’s 14-point lead tomorrow, was fifth fastest before crashing with 26 seconds of qualifying remaining but will start from 10th on the grid tomorrow after being hit with a five-place grid penalty for changing his gearbox prior to the session.
The Brazilian's crash brought the qualifying session to a premature end as the red flag was waved.
Brawn GP’s mis-fortune keeps alive Sebastian Vettel’s championship hopes as the Red Bull driver will line up alongside Hamilton tomorrow in second place on the grid.
Williams’ Nico Rosberg, meanwhile, will be looking to go one better than his second-place finish here last year as he starts from third.
“I am very, very happy and pleased for the team,” said Hamilton.
“Friday practice was not spectacular for me. The guys worked until 10am this morning rebuilding the car. They did a great job and I am pleased we have been able to do this for them.”
Mark Webber completed a pleasing qualifying session for Red Bull by securing fourth place while last year’s winner Fernando Alonso moves into fifth in his Renault once Barrichello’s penalty is applied.
Toyota’s Timo Glock starts from sixth while the BMW Saubers of Nick Heidfeld and Robert Kubica will start seventh and eighth respectively with McLaren’s Heikki Kovalainen in ninth.
Kazuki Nakajima took 11th in his Williams while Button will have his work cut out to prevent his rivals from making ground in the drivers' championship tomorrow as he lines up in 12th place.
Button had initially looked quick after claiming second to Hamilton in Q1 but then failed to maintain that in Q2.
Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen, who finished third at the Italian Grand Prix earlier this month, starts from 13th on the grid while there was added disappointment for the team as Giancarlo Fisichella crashed out in Q1 and will start in 18th place.
Toro Rosso’s Sebastien Buemi qualified in 14th place with Toyota’s Jarno Trulli 15th while Force India’s Adrian Sutil, who had qualified second at Monza but failed to replicate that performance today and will line up in 16th place on the grid.
Jaime Alguersuari qualified 17th in his Toro Rosso while Renault’s Romain Grosjean, who had been suffering from braking problems during the session, and Tonio Liuzzi of Force India bring up the rear.