McLaren's Lewis Hamilton took his 20th career pole position for the season opening Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne ahead of his teammate Jenson Button as defending champion Sebastian Vettel struggled with just the sixth fastest time.
While the McLarens locked out the front row, Lotus F1's Romain Grosjean took a surprise 3rd place, just narrowly beating Mercedes' Michael Schumacher. The German outqualified his teammate and compatriot Nico Rosberg, who qualified seventh.
Williams' Pastor Maldonado took eighth in his Renault-powered Williams while Force India's Nico Hulkenberg and Toro Rosso's Daniel Ricciardo rounded out the top ten.
Hamilton, champion in 2008, has vowed to bounce back from a disappointing series last year when he was distracted by personal problems and finished fifth in the standings.
And Vettel is launching his bid to become only the third driver to win three Formula One championships in a row, after the legendary Juan Manuel Fangio and Michael Schumacher.
Narain Karthikeyan and Pedro De La Rosa struggled with their HRTF1 cars and ultimately both drivers failed to make the cut-off time to be allowed to start the race. Hydraulic problems hampered the team's running on Friday and both drivers had to go into the race unprepared.