Sebastian Vettel edged a step closer to the 2011 World Championship title as he delivered his 11th pole position of the season in Singapore, leading an all-Red Bull front row to keep the team's 100 percent pole record for the year intact.
Having topped both Q1 and Q2 by half a second, Vettel carried the same margin through to the first runs of Q3, as he started the pole shootout with a 1m44.381s, while the McLarens and Ferraris were almost tripping over each other looking for clear space.
Vettel did not improve on his final run, but his teammate Mark Webber could only get within 0.4sec, so the German's pole was safe. Jenson Button took third for McLaren, 0.005sec ahead of teammate Lewis Hamilton, who had picked up a puncture later in Q2 and only did one early run in Q3.
The best Ferrari could manage was fifth and sixth, ahead of Nico Rosberg's Mercedes, with Fernando Alonso a second quicker than Felipe Massa.
Force India got both cars into Q3 but chose not to run in the final segment, so fills row five. Michael Schumacher did not set a time, either, and starts eighth for Mercedes.
Renault's prediction of a very tough weekend came true as its drivers ended up fighting to escape from Q1. Bruno Senna was in the drop zone before a mighty last lap got him up to 15th (where he would stay in Q2), but knocked his teammate Vitaly Petrov down to an eliminated 18th, the Russian's time nearly a second slower than Senna's.
The Force Indias' last Q2 laps denied Sergio Perez a Q3 place and left him 11th. His Sauber teammate Kamui Kobayashi caused a Q2 red flag when the aggressive approach he had taken to the Turn 10 chicane all weekend became rather too wild and he launched his car into the wall.
The Williams will start 12th and 13th, while the Toro Rossos qualified either side of Senna in 14th and 16th.
Heikki Kovalainen's initial Q3 run saw his Lotus ahead of Petrov and within a tenth of Buemi,though the Finn was cut adrift when he failed to improve on his last lap.
It was a similar story for HRT, which had both cars ahead of the Marussia Virgins going into the final Q1 runs, but ended up on the back row again as Timo Glock and Jerome D'Ambrosio improved. Tonio Liuzzi's five-place grid penalty for causing the Monza start mayhem will have no effect whatsoever as the Italian qualified slowest of all, 0.4sec behind his Singapore debutant teammate Daniel Ricciardo.
Pos Driver Team Time Gap
1. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault 1m44.381s
2. Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault 1m44.732s + 0.351
3. Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1m44.804s + 0.423
4. Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1m44.809s + 0.428
5. Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1m44.874s + 0.493
6. Felipe Massa Ferrari 1m45.800s + 1.419
7. Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1m46.013s + 1.632
8. Michael Schumacher Mercedes no time
9. Adrian Sutil Force India-Mercedes no time
10. Paul di Resta Force India-Mercedes no time
Q2 cut-off time: 1m47.486s Gap **
11. Sergio Perez Sauber-Ferrari 1m47.616s + 2.685
12. Rubens Barrichello Williams-Cosworth 1m48.082s + 3.151
13. Pastor Maldonado Williams-Cosworth 1m48.270s + 3.339
14. Sebastien Buemi Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m48.634s + 3.703
15. Bruno Senna Renault 1m48.662s + 3.731
16. Jaime Alguersuari Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m49.862s + 4.931
17. Kamui Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari No time
Q1 cut-off time: 1m49.588s Gap *
18. Vitaly Petrov Renault 1m49.835s + 3.438
19. Heikki Kovalainen Lotus-Renault 1m50.948s + 4.551
20. Jarno Trulli Lotus-Renault 1m51.012s + 4.615
21. Timo Glock Virgin-Cosworth 1m52.154s + 5.757
22. Jerome D'Ambrosio Virgin-Cosworth 1m52.363s + 5.966
23. Daniel Ricciardo HRT-Cosworth 1m52.404s + 6.007
24. Tonio Liuzzi HRT-Cosworth 1m52.810s + 6.413
107% time: 1m53.844s
* Gap to quickest in Q1
** Gap to quickest in Q2