Briton Lewis Hamilton will start Sunday's German Grand Prix from pole position after delivering a dominating performance in qualifying on Saturday.
The 21-year-old Englishman, in his McLaren Mercedes-Benz, grabbed his third prime starting place of the season and the ninth of his career with a well-timed and controlled piece of qualifying driving.
He wound up fastest in the final session with a best time of one minute and 15.666 seconds and will start the race ahead of Brazilian Felipe Massa in a Ferrari on the front row.
Defending drivers world champion Kimi Raikkonen of Finland ended up in sixth place for Ferrari after another troubled session.
Hamilton's McLaren team-mate Finn Heikki Kovalainen wound up third ahead of Italian Jarno Trulli in a Toyota, two times world champion Spaniard Fernando Alsono in a Renault and Raikkonen.
Pole Robert Kubica was seventh for BMW Sauber and Australian Mark Webber eighth for Red Bull.
The first mini-session in the qualifying hour saw the elimination of the two Force India cars driven by Italian Giancarlo Fisichella and German Adrian Sutil, Brazilian veteran Rubens Barrichello in his Honda, compatriot Nelson Piquet in a Renault and Japanese Kazuki Nakajima in a Williams.
In dry, but cloudy and changeable-looking conditions, the two Ferraris were fast, but in the second session it was their main rival Hamilton in his McLaren who set the pace ahead of Massa.
This session was packed with desperate late action and ended with the loss of German Timo Glock in a Toyota, Briton Jenson Button in his Honda, Frenchman Sebastien Bourdais, in a Toro Rosso, German Nick Heidfeld in his BMW Sauber and German-born Nico Rosberg of Williams.
Three German drivers out meant only 21-year-old Sebastian Vettel made it into the pole-position shootout in the final session and made it count with ninth place on the grid ahead of Briton David Coulthard in the second Red Bull.