McLaren's Lewis Hamilton stormed to pole position for the Singapore Grand Prix as Jenson Button and Rubens Barrichello suffered setbacks to Brawn GP's championship hopes.
It was a crucial drive by the Briton with front row of the grid likely to be decisive on the bumpy Marina Bay street circuit where overtaking will be difficult.
His lap of 1:47.891 was enough to beat Red Bull's Sebastien Vettel into second place followed by Nico Rosberg in a Williams and the other Red Bull of Mark Webber.
But there was disappointment for championship leader Button who starts the race from 12th after having problems with his car.
He was heard over the team radio saying he was struggling for grip.
His main contender Barrichello also had his hopes dashed by a five-place grid penalty.
The Brazilian star was forced to change his gearbox after the third free practice session and, having not used it for four consecutive events, he was automatically penalised.
Button is 14 points ahead of Barrichello with four races left and 26 in front of Vettel.