BUDAPEST, Hungary - Sebastian Vettel reminded his Formula One rivals that Red Bull remains the team to beat in the championship after taking the pole for the Hungarian Grand Prix.
The F1 leader's crew worked on his car through the night and the payoff was immediate Saturday as he stormed to a leading time of one minute 19.815 seconds around the Hungaroring circuit on his last flying lap.
McLaren took advantage of mixed weather conditions to qualify second and third as Lewis Hamilton was within two-tenths of the German leader in front of teammate Jenson Button.
Ferrari pair Felipe Massa and Fernando Alonso followed while Mark Webber will start a disappointing sixth for Red Bull.
"Yes baby, this is what I'm talking about!" Vettel screamed on his car radio after rebounding from a season-low fourth place finish at the German GP with his 23rd career pole and eighth of a season. Red Bull has started first in all 11 races so far.
The track temperature dropped as the wind picked up on the overcast afternoon, the changing weather conditions playing into McLaren's favour at the Hungaroring, which is normally one of the calendar's hottest races.
But the defending F1 champion left little doubt as to why he's built a 77-point lead in the championship as he flew around the circuit on his last lap to edge Hamilton, who led for most of the final 10-minute session.
"We changed a lot on the car overnight and the boys were working very hard and didn't get much sleep. This is the best way to say thank you," said Vettel, who is looking for his seventh win of the season and first in three races.
"I've got the confidence back."
Vettel, who also led the morning practice, leads Webber in the standings while Hamilton trails by 82 points, four better than Alonso. Button is fifth, 107 points behind.
Webber, who started on pole the last two races, labeled his best lap "bizarre."
"There's no way I could do that lap time, no way," the Australian said after finishing half a second behind his teammate. "Yesterday it was nip and tuck but today there is a gap. We'll have to look at it."
Hamilton led both of Friday's practices and rebounded from Saturday's morning session when his car experienced brake problems.
"It's a great achievement for us. I think we can get some real nice points from here," said Hamilton, who is looking for his third win in five starts in Budapest.
Mixed weather is also expected Sunday, which could give McLaren an extra edge. The British team has won three of the past four races at the Hungaroring.
"When you're that close to the front you've got to go for victory," said Button, who will start his 200th race at the site of his first victory in 2006.
Red Bull engineers constantly examined Vettel's rear wing throughout the session after having to overhaul his car overnight.
Alonso said fourth was the best Ferrari could hope for while having Massa in front of him also means prudence may have to prevail.
"It definitely changes the way you look at the race. But we're not thinking about the championship, we're taking risks and racing very aggressively. We have nothing to lose," Alonso said. "I expect McLaren to be strong."
German drivers filled the next three spots with Mercedes pair Nico Rosberg and Michael Schumacher split by Adrian Sutil of Force India, who starts eighth.
Mexican rookie Sergio Perez starts 10th for Sauber.