Hungarian GP: Lewis Hamilton takes dominant pole position
McLaren's Lewis Hamilton was in a league of his own as he took pole position for the Hungarian Grand Prix.
The Englishman set two laps fast enough for pole, an early benchmark that proved out of reach of his rivals and then an even faster lap to take pole by 0.413 seconds.
Lotus driver Romain Grosjean was second ahead of Sebastian Vettel's Red Bull.
Jenson Button was fourth, Kimi Raikkonen fifth, Fernando Alonso sixth and Mark Webber only 11th.
The top 10 was rounded out by Alonso's Ferrari team-mate Felipe Massa, the Williams of Pastor Maldonado and Bruno Senna, and Nico Hulkenberg's Force India.
Red Bull's Webber, second in the championship behind Ferrari driver Alonso, was knocked out in the second session.
The Australian could manage only 11th fastest time, despite being only 0.308 secs slower than Vettel, who was second fastest in that session behind Hamilton.
Hamilton said: "It is great to finally see the upgrades working and I have been able to put the car where I want to this weekend. We are not saying we are relaxed.
"We know we have a lot of work to do, starting this weekend."
It was a hugely impressive performance by Hamilton, who has looked the man to beat all weekend, and Grosjean lived up to the potential Lotus had appeared to have.
The Frenchman and his team-mate Raikkonen are expected to be a serious threat in the race, where their impressive tyre preservation ensures they are nearly always a factor.
Grosjean said of his second place: "It is good to be back at the front. We had a difficult race in Germany but I am glad we have been able to improve here and I think tomorrow is going to be interesting."
Alonso's performance, meanwhile, proved Ferrari's point that they do not have the fastest car in terms of outright pace in the dry, and that the Spaniard's 34-point championship lead has been caused largely by his impressive consistency.
Although Alonso has been on pole for the last two races, both those qualifying sessions were in the wet.
Red Bull's performance, on a track on which they have dominated for the last two seasons in terms of pure pace, will confirm in many minds that they have been knocked backwards by a rule change before this race restricting the manner in which they were altering engine settings for improved cornering performance and tyre wear.
But Red Bull's Vettel said: "It has been more a case of it being difficult getting everything to work properly. The speed is there but it has been a struggle to get the balance. I think with the progress we have made we should be in a good position tomorrow."
It was a terrible day for Mercedes, the challenging layout of endless corners at the Hungaroring exposing the weakness in their car that has been apparent for some time.
Nico Rosberg was only 13th fastest and Michael Schumacher was down in 17th, nearly a second slower than his team-mate after aborting his second flying lap because it was not going to be fast enough to get him into the top 10.
At Toro Rosso, Jean-Eric Vergne out-qualified team-mate Daniel Ricciardo for only the third time this season and the first time since the Spanish Grand Prix in May.
The Frenchman lines up 16th, with Ricciardo knocked out in the first session and 18th.
Hungarian Grand Prix 2012, day two
- Saturday, 28 July:
- Third practice 09:55 BST; BBC Sport website live text and audio commentary and BBC Radio 5 live sports extra. Qualifying 12:55 BST; BBC Sport website and BBC Radio 5 live sports extra & highlights on BBC Two at 17:00 BST.
Hungarian Grand Prix 2012, day three
- Sunday, 29 July:
- Race 12:45 BST; BBC Sport website live text and audio commentary and BBC Radio 5 live sports extra & Race highlights 19:00 BST BBC One/BBC HD/online.