Heikki Kovalainen claimed his first Formula One pole position with a commanding performance at Silverstone.
The McLaren driver beat surprise qualifying star, Red Bull Racing's Mark Webber, to the top spot in British Grand Prix qualifying, while McLaren teammate Lewis Hamilton only managed fourth on home ground behind Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen.
Kovalainen, who scored the first pole of his car racing career at Silverstone in Formula Renault seven years ago, took provisional pole with his first Q3 run, and although that time was beaten by Webber, Raikkonen and Hamilton, the Finn responded with a 1:21.049 - reclaiming pole position by over half a second.
Behind Kovalainen, the remarkable Webber beat Raikkonen to the outside front row spot, securing Red Bull's best ever qualifying position.
Hamilton went off the road at Priory on his first Q3 lap and was then nearly 0.8 seconds slower than Kovalainen on his next attempt, leaving him in a disappointing fourth place.
Championship leader Felipe Massa also had a troubled qualifying, with a mistake in Q3 leaving him only ninth on the grid.
Nick Heidfeld out-qualified BMW teammate Robert Kubica for the first time all year and took fifth, as Kubica failed to set a time in Q3 having abandoned his first flying lap when he suspected a puncture. The Pole will start 10th.
Both Renaults made it through to Q3, with Fernando Alonso and Nelson Piquet securing sixth and seventh.
Sebastian Vettel built on his promising practice performances to make it into Q3 for the first time since Melbourne. The Toro Rosso driver then benefited from Massa and Kubica's problems to take eighth, five places ahead of teammate Sebastien Bourdais.
Webber's Red Bull teammate David Coulthard will start just outside the top ten in his final British GP - but it could have been much worse for the 1999 and 2000 race winner, who just scraped through to Q2 before a rain shower hit the first segment of qualifying with four minutes remaining. Coulthard then missed the Q3 cut by a scant 0.059 seconds, leaving him 11th.
Both Toyotas were also knocked out in Q2. Timo Glock out-qualified Jarno Trulli for only the second time this year as they sandwiched Bourdais in 12th and 14th places.
The Q1 shower passed quickly, and Bourdais was even able to improve his time afterwards and further cement his Q2 place. But the Hondas could not do likewise, leaving Rubens Barrichello and Jenson Button in 16th and 17th respectively. It was the third time in as many seasons that Button had failed to progress beyond the first part of qualifying at his home race.
A suspension problem prevented Nico Rosberg from making another run after the Q1 rain, and left him down in 18th on the grid. His Williams teammate Kazuki Nakajima made it through to Q2 but was the slowest man in the second segment by a full half a second, so could not get higher than 15th.
The Force India drivers again brought up the rear, with Adrian Sutil ahead of Giancarlo Fisichella after the latter ran wide at Priory on his final lap and then spun into the Brooklands gravel.
Pos Driver Team Q1 Q2 Q3 Laps
1. Kovalainen McLaren-Mercedes 1:19.957 1:19.597 1:21.049 15
2. Webber Red Bull-Renault 1:20.982 1:19.710 1:21.554 16
3. Raikkonen Ferrari 1:20.370 1:19.971 1:21.706 18
4. Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1:20.288 1:19.537 1:21.835 13
5. Heidfeld BMW Sauber 1:21.022 1:19.802 1:21.873 16
6. Alonso Renault 1:20.998 1:19.992 1:22.029 15
7. Piquet Renault 1:20.818 1:20.115 1:22.491 19
8. Vettel Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1:20.318 1:20.109 1:23.251 16
9. Massa Ferrari 1:20.676 1:20.086 1:23.305 16
10. Kubica BMW Sauber 1:20.444 1:19.788 12
11. Coulthard Red Bull-Renault 1:21.224 1:20.174 14
12. Glock Toyota 1:20.893 1:20.274 14
13. Bourdais Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1:20.584 1:20.531 16
14. Trulli Toyota 1:21.145 1:20.601 13
15. Nakajima Williams-Toyota 1:21.407 1:21.112 14
16. Barrichello Honda 1:21.512 9
17. Button Honda 1:21.631 11
18. Rosberg Williams-Toyota 1:21.668 6
19. Sutil Force India-Ferrari 1:21.786 9
20. Fisichella Force India-Ferrari 1:21.885 8
All timing unofficial