Lewis Hamilton boosted his world championship prospects by grabbing pole position for the Chinese Grand Prix, two places ahead of his title rival Felipe Massa.
Kimi Raikkonen will join Hamilton on the front row, while long-shot title contender Robert Kubica's championship hopes now look all but over, as the BMW driver had his worst qualifying session of the season and ended up 12th.
McLaren driver Hamilton had a poor first flying lap in Q3, going only fifth fastest after a mistake in the middle sector.
But he fought back strongly to beat Raikkonen's Ferrari to pole by 0.342 seconds.
Massa was ahead of Hamilton after the first Q3 runs but didn't make such a large improvement and will start third, half a second slower than the McLaren on pole.
Fernando Alonso took fourth for Renault, with Heikki Kovalainen a disappointing fifth in the second McLaren. The Finn had held provisional pole early in Q3, but barely improved on his second run and fell four places.
Red Bull's Mark Webber took sixth, but will lose that place thanks to an engine change penalty, which will elevate Nick Heidfeld into the top six for BMW.
Both Toro Rossos made the top ten again, and took eighth and 10th places in Q3 - Sebastian Vettel 1.2 seconds than teammate Sebastien Bourdais. Toyota's Jarno Trulli will split them.
Although Kubica had been unhappy with his car in Friday practice, things looked more promising when he took a close third place this morning. He slumped back to 12th in qualifying however, and although he will gain one position when Webber receives his engine change penalty, that will be little consolation for Kubica, who has only been eliminated in Q2 twice before in his Formula One career.
Renault's Nelson Piquet and Toyota's Timo Glock failed to emulate their respective teammates' progression to Q3, taking 11th and 13th places prior to Webber's penalty.
For the first time since Canada, Rubens Barrichello made it through to Q2 and took 14th place ahead of Nico Rosberg (Williams), but his Honda teammate Jenson Button had a less happy time. The Briton will start 18th behind Williams' Kazuki Nakajima, and ahead of only the evenly-matched Force Indias.
Red Bull Racing had a frustrating afternoon. With Webber receiving an engine change penalty after his morning practice failure, the team's hopes depended on David Coulthard, but the Scot was only 16th in Q1 after encountering Heidfeld while on a fast lap.
Webber made it through to Q3 but will fall from sixth in qualifying to 16th on the final grid due to his penalty.
Pos Driver Team Q1 Q2 Q3 1. Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes (B) 1:35.566 1:34.947 1:36.303 2. Raikkonen Ferrari (B) 1:35.983 1:35.355 1:36.645 3. Massa Ferrari (B) 1:35.971 1:35.135 1:36.889 4. Alonso Renault (B) 1:35.769 1:35.461 1:36.927 5. Kovalainen McLaren-Mercedes (B) 1:35.623 1:35.216 1:36.930 6. Webber Red Bull-Renault (B) 1:36.238 1:35.686 1:37.083 7. Heidfeld BMW Sauber (B) 1:36.224 1:35.403 1:37.201 8. Vettel Toro Rosso-Ferrari (B) 1:35.752 1:35.386 1:37.685 9. Trulli Toyota (B) 1:36.104 1:35.715 1:37.934 10. Bourdais Toro Rosso-Ferrari (B) 1:36.239 1:35.478 1:38.885 11. Piquet Renault (B) 1:36.029 1:35.722 12. Kubica BMW Sauber (B) 1:36.503 1:35.814 13. Glock Toyota (B) 1:36.210 1:35.937 14. Barrichello Honda (B) 1:36.640 1:36.079 15. Rosberg Williams-Toyota (B) 1:36.434 1:36.210 16. Coulthard Red Bull-Renault (B) 1:36.731 17. Nakajima Williams-Toyota (B) 1:36.863 18. Button Honda (B) 1:37.053 19. Sutil Force India-Ferrari (B) 1:37.730 20. Fisichella Force India-Ferrari (B) 1:37.739