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Dominant Hamilton claims Singapore pole for McLaren

updated 11:24 AM EDT, Sat September 22, 2012
Lewis Hamilton is making a strong challenge for his second world title in the latter half of the F1 season.
Lewis Hamilton is making a strong challenge for his second world title in the latter half of the F1 season.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Lewis Hamilton on pole for Sunday's Singapore Grand Prix
  • 24th career GP pole for 2008 world champion
  • Venezuela's Pastor Maldonado second fastest for Williams
  • Defending two-time world champion Sebastian Vettel third fastest

(CNN) -- Lewis Hamilton dominated Saturday's qualifying for the Singapore Grand Prix to claim pole position for the third time in the last four races of the Formula One season.

The McLaren star clocked a best time of one minute 46.392 seconds under the lights of the Marina Bay Street Circuit to take first place on the grid by nearly half a second from Venezuela's Pastor Maldonado in his Williams.

Two-time defending world champion Sebastian Vettel had shown impressive pace in his Red Bull in the practice sessions but had to settle for third place, just ahead of Hamilton's teammate Jenson Button.

Championship leader Fernando Alonso was a solid fifth for Ferrari, but his teammate Felipe Massa was back in 13th.

Hamilton's McLaren Future

Speculation about Hamilton's future has been the talk of the pit lane, but after his victory in the preceding round in Italy he was again complimenting his team.

Hamilton focuses on championship

"The guys have done a fantastic job all week. The session was great, although I'm not sure what happened with Sebastian (Vettel) who had been fastest all the way through before that."

Such was Hamilton's mastery of the final session, two of his qualifying runs were faster than Maldonado's as he claimed a 24th career pole.

The pair had a controversial clash at the European Grand Prix in Valencia and Hamilton will be looking to avoid a similar problem.

"I'll have to get away cleanly. We'll stick to the strategy we have planned and be prepared if it doesn't work," he added.

Britain's Paul Di Resta was an excellent sixth for Force India ahead of the second Red Bull of Mark Webber of Australia.

Romain Grosjean returned after his one-race ban to take eighth for Lotus with the Mercedes pair of Michael Schumacher and Nico Rosberg rounding out the top 10.

Earlier Saturday, race officials announced they had been granted a five-year extension to their contract with F1, ensuring the race will continue until at least 2017 at the same venue.

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