A stunning performance by Nico Rosberg saw him take pole position for tomorrow’s Bahrain Grand Prix.
The Mercedes driver had not featured amongst the frontrunners during practice, but produced the times when it mattered to take his second career pole.
Sebastian Vettel lines up second, whilst Fernando Alonso will be looking to repeat his victory in Shanghai last weekend as he starts third for the second week running.
Lewis Hamilton set the fourth fastest time, but he will start ninth after picking up a five-place penalty for changing his gearbox after final practice.
Mark Webber would have been promoted to that fourth spot, but his three-place grid drop for his collision with Jean-Eric Vergne in China means he drops back to seventh, meaning Felipe Massa will join his Ferrari teammate on the second row.
Paul di Resta starts fifth and is joined on the third row by Force India teammate Adrian Sutil, a highly impressive result for the Silverstone-based outfit as they look to consolidate their fifth place in the constuctors’ championship.
Webber starts seventh ahead of Kimi Raikkonen, who has strong race pace in his Lotus but failed to translate that into qualifying speed, while Hamilton and Jenson Button round out the top ten.
The big shock of Q2 was Romain Grosjean, whose scrappy lap cost him a place in the top ten shootout. He lines up alongside Sergio Perez, while Daniel Ricciardo and Nico Hulkenberg share the seventh row. Valtteri Bottas starts fifteenth, with Jean-Eric Vergne the slowest of those in the second part of qualifying.
Pastor Maldonado and Esteban Gutierrez were the biggest names to fall at the first hurdle, with the Sauber driver now condemned to the back of the grid as he takes a five-place penalty for his crash with Adrian Sutil in Shanghai.
Charles Pic won the battle of the Caterhams and Marussias to qualify 18th, ahead of Jules Bianchi, Giedo van der Garde and Max Chilton.
1) Nico Rosberg (Ger) Mercedes
2) Sebastian Vettel (Ger) Red Bull-Renault
3) Fernando Alonso (Esp) Ferrari
4) Felipe Massa (Bra) Ferrari
5) Paul di Resta (GB) Force India-Mercedes
6) Adrian Sutil (Ger) Force India-Mercedes
7) Mark Webber (Aus) Red Bull-Renault*
8) Kimi Raikkonen (Fin) Lotus-Renault
9) Lewis Hamilton (GB) Mercedes**
10) Jenson Button (GB) McLaren-Mercedes
11) Romain Grosjean (Fra) Lotus-Renault
12) Sergio Perez (Mex) McLaren-Mercedes
13) Daniel Ricciardo (Aus) Toro-Rosso Ferrari
14) Nico Hulkenberg (Ger) Sauber-Ferrari
15) Valtteri Bottas (Fin) Williams-Renault
16) Jean-Eric Vergne (Fra) Toro Rosso-Ferrari
17) Pastor Maldonado (Ven) Williams-Renault
18) Charles Pic (Fra) Caterham-Renault
19) Jules Bianchi (Fra) Marussia-Cosworth
20) Giedo van der Garde (Ned) Caterham-Renault
21) Max Chilton (GB) Marussia-Cosworth
22) Esteban Gutierrez (Mex) Sauber-Ferrari**
*Three-place grid penalty
** Five-place grid penalty