Hamilton scored his 24th career pole (to tie him with two greats of the sport, Niki Lauda and Nelson Piquet) and his third in the last four races.
After Maldonado came defending World Champion Sebastien Vettel (Red Bull-Renault), Jenson Button (McLaren), currrent world championship leader Fernando Alonso (Ferrari), Paul di Resta (Force India-Mercedes), Mark Webber (Red Bull), Romain Grosjean (Renault), Michael Schumacher (Mercedes) and his teammate Nico Rosberg.
Eliminated in Q2 were Force India's Nico Hulkenberg, Kimi Raikkonen (Renault), a clearly disappointed Felipe Massa of Ferrari and the very promising Sergio Perez (Sauber-Ferrari).
An early surprise in a very exciting night-time qualifying was the elimination after Q1 of Kamui Kobayashi, who couldn't get his Sauber-Ferrari to work at all.
The Singapore circuit (it's really too bad the race isn't run in daylight so those of us who've never been there could appreciate the architecture and beauty of the metropolis) is a both good and bad street track, in that there are a number of wide-open straight stretches (good) and terribly tight turns (bad) where more than one driver bent up their mounts by nudging the barriers.
Even Hamilton brushed a wall but it didn't appear to have any effect.
Grosjean was one of those who got into the barrier early in Q2 but the car wasn't badly damaged and he made a terrific comeback to get through to Q3 and to qualify eighth.
Schumacher qualified for Q3 after time had run out in Q2 but then he and Rosberg stayed in the garage and didn't post a time in the final session.
Webber's seventh-place starting position was under review, as he was accused of getting in the way of Timo Glock at some point during Q1 and forcing the Marussia-Cosworth driver to slow down.
SINGAPORE GP QUALIFYING RESULTS
Pos Driver Team Time Gap
1. Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1m46.362s
2. Pastor Maldonado Williams-Renault 1m46.804s + 0.442
3. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault 1m46.905s + 0.543
4. Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1m46.939s + 0.577
5. Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1m47.216s + 0.854
6. Paul di Resta Force India-Mercedes 1m47.241s + 0.879
7. Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault 1m47.475s + 1.113
8. Romain Grosjean Lotus-Renault 1m47.788s + 1.426
9. Michael Schumacher Mercedes no time
10. Nico Rosberg Mercedes no time
Q2 cut-off time: 1m47.943s Gap **
11. Nico Hulkenberg Force India-Mercedes 1m47.975s + 1.310
12. Kimi Raikkonen Lotus-Renault 1m48.261s + 1.596
13. Felipe Massa Ferrari 1m48.344s + 1.679
14. Sergio Perez Sauber-Ferrari 1m48.505s + 1.840
15. Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m48.774s + 2.109
16. Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m48.849s + 2.184
17. Bruno Senna Williams-Renault no time
Q1 cut-off time: 1m49.809s Gap *
18. Kamui Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari 1m49.933s + 2.245
19. Vitaly Petrov Caterham-Renault 1m50.846s + 3.158
20. Heikki Kovalainen Caterham-Renault 1m51.137s + 3.449
21. Timo Glock Marussia-Cosworth 1m51.370s + 3.682
22. Charles Pic Marussia-Cosworth 1m51.762s + 4.074
23. Narain Karthikeyan HRT-Cosworth 1m52.372s + 4.684
24. Pedro de la Rosa HRT-Cosworth 1m53.355s + 5.667
107% time: 1m55.226s