Dan eased through the opening Q1 segment without using the soft compound Pirelli tyre the rest of the field bar Mercedes were forced to bolt on and in Q2 he rose up the order, making it through to the top-10 shootout in third position.
He maintained that placing in the final 12-minute segment of the hour and ended the session just half a second behind Hamilton.
It was another excellent performance from the Australian, who knew before going into the session that he would have to pull out all the stops due to the 10-place grid penalty he will be forced to take for tomorrow's race following an unsafe release at last weekend's Malaysian Grand Prix.
"Today was nice, tomorrow will be less nice with the 10-place penalty, but I was really happy with qualifying," Daniel said afterwards. "I think through all the runs and on both tyres I was happy with my performance. We may have saved one set of tyres compared to the others, so that's good, hopefully I'm going to need it tomorrow for coming through the pack; hopefully it will help us.
"I did the best I could today, so for that I'm pleased. I think Seb and I will both be charging hard tomorrow and will aim to put on a good race," concluded Daniel, who will start 13th.
Sebastian was faced with an equally tough task in the one-hour evening session.
The champion suffered a spin in the afternoon's final free practice session, which caused some damage to his RB10 that hampered his progress in qualifying.
After making his way through to Q2, Seb's fortunes began to ebb. His final run in search of a Q3 berth netted eighth spot but with time on the clock for his rivals to improve the champion soon began to slip down the order, eventually qualifying in 11th place. He will start 10th when Daniel takes his grid penalty.
"We weren't quick enough today. I was pretty happy yesterday, but I think this afternoon didn't help us when I spun off and did some damage to the car," said Seb afterwards. "It's hard to say how big the impact of that was, as once you start qualifying you just get your head down and try to do the best you can. It was quite tight with Kimi and there wasn't a lot missing to get to Q3, but that's how it goes."
The champion was at least encouraged by the fact that he has saved a set of tyres for tomorrow's race at a circuit where degradation has this weekend proved problematic.
"We get an extra set of tyres tomorrow and I think in the race things will calm down and we'll be able to be a bit more consistent and attack for some good points," he said. "I think our speed is okay on a longer run – and actually on a shorter run too, as Dan has shown today. It will be hard to overtake some cars tomorrow, but we will try our best."