The Brit had been anticipated to struggle in his Mercedes compared to the nearest rivals Ferrari and Red Bull at Singapore, but his stunning Q3 lap gifted 79th career pole, the best lap of 1 minute, 36.015 seconds for a new lap record at the Marina Bay Circuit.
Title contender Sebastian Vettel, who had been hoping to make in-roads into the 30 points by which he trails Hamilton, was only third quickest, behind the Red Bull of Max Verstappen.
Valtteri Bottas was fourth in the second Mercedes, ahead of Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen and the Red Bull of Daniel Ricciardo.
“This track is epic, it’s so difficult. It’s the toughest track of the year… Monaco on steroids, really,”Hamilton said.
“We started on softs, which was a huge difference compared to the hypers. I was qualifying half a second behind the guys. It was a real challenge in Q1. Then we got into that last session, it was about playing all those bits you found in practice and put it into a puzzle. I managed to maximise on pretty much every corner.”
An equally delighted Verstappen, who has never stood on the podium in Singapore, added: “To be second is unbelievable and this shows we have an amazing car.”
For Vettel, who trails Hamilton (256 points) by 30 points in the Drivers’ World Championship, there was disappointment.
The German said: “We wanted to get pole but we didn’t. In the end, there was too much time missing. In the end, we had two laps and they were both not good enough.”