Mark Webber will start from pole position at the German Grand Prix after narrowly beating McLaren driver Lewis Hamilton and Red Bull teammate Sebastian Vettel in qualifying on Saturday.
The Australian posted a time of 1 minute, 30.079 seconds around the 5.1-kilometer (3.2-mile) Nuerburgring circuit, with Hamilton 0.065 seconds behind in a surprising performance. Vettel, the defending champion and 2011 points leader, finished a further 82 thousands of a second off the pace.
"We got it all together at the end there. It was my complete limit," Webber said. "A good 'Quali' today but you want to lead one lap tomorrow, which is the last lap. I'll be in there pushing very hard."
Hamilton's excellent qualifying run wasn't even expected by McLaren, despite the Briton and teammate Jenson Button having each won a race this season.
"I definitely underestimated how good the car would be ... but it felt fantastic, Hamilton said. "I wasn't expecting the car to feel so great. I don't think anyone in the team would ever have imagined that we'd be this close to the Red Bulls ... splitting them."
Vettel, hoping to win his first race in Germany, will not be starting from the first row for the first time this season. He said the small gap with the front-runners gave him hope that he could still have a successful race.
"I have a much better feeling for the car today," said Vettel, who has won six of nine races this year and finished second in the other three. "If it's dry, we have a very good chance. But it may not be the case. The target is to win, which is not impossible from third."
The latest weather forecast predicts an 84 percent chance of rain for the start of the 60-lap race on Sunday.
Ferrari's Fernando Alonso, looking to repeat his win at the British Grand Prix two weeks ago, was fourth and teammate Felipe Massa fifth.