Germany's Sebastian Vettel will start in pole position for the Australian Grand Prix after the Red Bull driver was quickest in qualifying on Saturday.
Vettel posted a fastest lap time in qualifying of one minute 23.529 seconds and will start on the inside of the front row alongside McLaren's Lewis Hamilton of Britain.
Vettel's Australian team-mate Mark Webber was third quickest and will start from the second row along with two-time race winner Jenson Button in a McLaren.
It was the 23-year-old German's 16th career pole and comes after Red Bull posted 15 poles from 19 races in last year's world constructors' championship season.
Vettel claimed the pole position in last year's Melbourne race but failed to finish as Button went on to win his second consecutive Australian race in a rain-disrupted event.
"It's quite promising for Sunday and surely we have done the first step and starting the season that way is what you want to and it's just a good sign for all of us in the team," Vettel said.
"It was quite a pleasure today but we have zero points so we'll have to see tomorrow."
Hamilton, the 2008 world champion, was astonished by the eight-tenths of a second gap to Vettel, but was pleased with the strong improvement of his McLaren car from winter testing. "I am absolutely thrilled to be on the front row of the grid," Hamilton said.
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Schumi questions car after qualifying
Michael Schumacher finds himself, on the eve of the opening race, questioning the abilities of a race car he previously thought could challenge for the podium.
After a promising winter testing and competitive times in practice for the Australian GP, there were expectations that Schumacher might get back to challenging for wins after an anti-climactic comeback in 2010.
However, the seven-time world champion will start Sunday's race from 11th on the grid after his Mercedes proved no match for Sebastian Vettel's pacesetting Red Bull or the fast improving McLarens.
Schumacher said he was disappointed in his car and surprised by the pace of the top cars.
Ferrari look for positives
Ferrari searched for a positive spin on Saturday's disappointing qualifying outcome for their drivers Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa ahead of the race.
The Italian giants were the big disappointments of the qualifying shoot-out with Alonso fifth fastest and Massa eighth.
Ferrari urged their army of fans not to get too despondent about their chances in Sunday's season-opening race in Melbourne.