Defending double world champion Sebastian Vettel grabbed his first pole position of 2012 on Saturday when he planted his Red Bull car at the top of the times in qualifying for Sunday's controversial Bahrain Grand Prix.
The 24-year-old German outpaced McLaren's Lewis Hamilton by just 0.098 seconds to take the 31st pole of his career following a relatively lacklustre start to the season.
Vettel's Red Bull teammate Australian Mark Webber and fellow-Briton and McLaren team-mate Jenson Button occupy the second row after coming in second and third.
This speedy top four were able to push last weekend's maiden F1 victor Nico Rosberg down to fifth with a thrilling final flurry of laps in the closing seconds that left the Mercedes driver, who chose to run only once in Q3, slightly off the pace.
His Mercedes team-mate, seven-time champion Michael Schumacher, was dumped out of qualifying in Q1 when he also was restricted to one run only by a technical problem with his Drag Reduction System (DRS).
Australian rookie Daniel Ricciardo was sixth for Toro Rosso ahead of Romain Grosjean of Lotus, Mexican Sergio Perez of Sauber, two-time champion Fernando Alonso of Ferrari and Paul Di Resta of Force India, who was 10th.