BUDAPEST - Lewis Hamilton raised a fist in celebration and enjoyed a special triumph Saturday as he grabbed his fifth consecutive pole position and his ninth in 10 races this season.
In a sizzling session run in searing heat, the 30-year-old Briton - who is seeking a record fifth win in Sunday's race - dominated qualifying for Sunday's Hungarian Grand Prix as he had all three practice sessions on Friday and Saturday morning.
The series leader and defending two-time world champion almost made it look easy as he outpaced his Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg by half a second on the tight and twisty Hungaroring circuit.
Hamilton's pole success was his fifth at the Hungaroring circuit where he is, remarkably, the only driver to have won from pole position in the last 10 years.
It was the 47th pole position of his career and lifted him clear of fellow-Briton Damon Hill with his 18th successive front row start, leaving only Brazilian legend Ayrton Senna to catch on 24.
"I'm just so incredibly happy with this weekend," said Hamilton.
"Honestly, I can't remember having a performance as good as this before. It has just been so good for me.
"What a weekend so far.
"The car was so good - thanks to my amazing team." "I always feel happy here. It's a very physical and technical circuit and it is difficult to get the car set up right.
"The thing is not to make too many changes and just make baby steps and find what you want at the end of the day. I'm not nervous about the start, but there is an inconsistent factor. We have done a lot of work to improve it." Rosberg, who once again played second fiddle to his team-mate, was not content with his session.
"I just didn't find the pace today. It's been a bit of an up and down weekend all the way through for me. Definitely, I am not happy," said Rosberg.
Four-time champion German Sebastain Vettel of Ferrari was third fastest ahead of Australian Daniel Ricciardo of Red Bull and Finn Kimi Raikkonen, fifth in the second Ferrari.
Vettel, who is third in the title race with 135 points behind Hamilton on 194 and Rosberg on 177, said he was satisfied with his and Ferrari's progress.
"The car kept improving and third was the maximum for us. I am happy with that. I expect it will be a tight race tomorrow," said the German.
It was, ultimately, another disappointing day for the struggling McLaren Honda team as two-time champion Fernando Alonso and 2009 champion Jenson Button qualified 15th and 16th after further problems.
Alonso's car failed out on the circuit and he was left attempting to push it uphill and into the pits which he did, with help, all to no avail.
"When I was told the rules said I could not do that and go out again, I left it to the team," said Alonso.
The intense heat - the air temperature was 32 degrees Celsius and the track was 54 as qualifying began - meant that tyre degradation became a factor and accentuated the difference between the super-soft compound and the harder 'medium' rubber.
Hamilton made light of that with a series of fast and flawless laps to leave his rivals floundering in pursuit. On this form, he has every chance of adding to his points advantage and claiming the 38th win of his career in Sunday's 70-laps contest.
Rival team chief Christian Horner of Red Bull said there was no catching Hamilton at the moment.
"Lewis is high on confidence at the moment and he wants to be the quickest in every session...," said Horner.
Mercedes team chief Toto Wolff said that he was hoping the temperatures would dip for the race.
"That was a very good lap indeed from Lewis. Nico wasn't really happy today and his car felt terribly wrong from the start," said Wolff.
"I think cooler conditions on Sunday will be good for us as Ferrari tend to look better in the hotter races."