Mark Webber has his sights set on maintaining his Formula One championship lead after taking pole position for the Belgian Grand Prix on Saturday.
Webber's fifth pole of the year puts the Red Bull driver in prime position for a fifth victory to extend his four-point lead in the drivers' standings. The Austrian team will start from No. 1 on the grid for the 12th time in 13 races.
Webber went around the slick Spa circuit in 1 minute, 45.778 seconds to edge Lewis Hamilton of McLaren by just under one-tenth of a second.
"We knew the first lap was going to be pretty important since around here it is so unpredictable," Webber said. "In qualifying, every lap is important and you never know, especially in this company."
Robert Kubica of Renault starts third while Sebastian Vettel of Red Bull fills out the second row.
Jenson Button of McLaren starts fifth, while Fernando Alonso of Ferrari will start a disappointing 10th for Sunday's 44-lap race. Webber, who has won two of the last three races, has 161 points. Vettel is third with 151. Button has 147 points and Alonso 141. After the rain-soaked practice sessions, the weather stayed dry for most of qualifying with only a light rain hampering the favorites toward the end.
"It was easily one of those days where things could have went wrong," Webber said. "But apart from Fernando, all the guys had normal days."
The favorites all made it through to the final session. Alonso failed to emulate his practice pace _ he led two of the three sessions _ and finished just over 1.6 seconds off Webber's pace and 1.127 off teammate Felipe Massa, who starts from sixth. The first session was red-flagged after Vitaly Petrov slid out on his first lap.
The leaders all got through, with Vettel taking advantage of the empty track after a brief shower to set his lap in the first session.
Sauber pair Kamui Kobayashi and Pedro de la Rosa both slid off and were out of contention for the second session, while stewards also investigated an incident between Virgin's Lucas Di Grassi and Jarno Trulli of Lotus at Fagnes corner.
Mercedes' miserable season continued as Michael Schumacher and Nico Rosberg both failed to make it into the final session, placing 11th and 12th. But Schumacher is due to drop 10 paces on the starting grid for nearly forcing Rubens Barrichello into a wall in Hungary, while Rosberg will start five places lower due to a last-minute gearbox change.