Lewis Hamilton resisted pressure from his Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg and the speed of both Red Bulls to claim pole position on Saturday for Sunday's British Grand Prix.
The 28-year-old Englishman gave his home fans good reason to cheer -- as they gave him a standing ovation -- with a fastest lap of one minute and 29.607 seconds, four-tenths of a second quicker than his German partner who wound up second on the grid as Mercedes locked out the front row.
It was Hamilton's second pole this year, after three successive secondplace starts, and the 28th of his career. It was also the first pole by a British driver at Silverstone since Hamilton last succeeded in 2007.
Defending triple world champion German Sebastian Vettel was third quickest for Red Bull ahead of his retirement-bound team-mate Australian Mark Webber.
Scot Paul Di Resta was fifth fastest in his Force India car, to give the British fans two drivers in the top five, ahead of Australian Daniel Ricciardo of Toro Rosso, pressing home his credentials for consideration as Webber's successor at Red Bull.
German Adrian Sutil was seventh in the second Force India ahead of Frenchman Romain Grosjean and his Lotus team-mate Finn Kimi Raikkonen and two-time champion Spaniard Fernando Alonso of Ferrari.
"It's an incredible feeling," said Hamilton. "It feels like [his previous Silverstone pole] 2007. The crowd have been great - such a great turnout - that was a lap for them.
"I hope we can do something special in the race. It's phenomenal because I haven't been feeling 100 per cent comfortable in the car."
Rosberg said: "It's definitely a great feeling to have the fastest car and the Mercedes team did a great job.
"We are confident we have improved and some of the other cars may be better than us but finishing top two can only be good for us."
Vettel could not resist referring to Mercedes' recent 'secret' tyre test, suggesting it has given them some advantages.
But, he added: "We will see what happens tomorrow. It is a long race. I'm honestly very happy today. I don't know if Lewis [Hamilton] found a short cut or he just found something special here - it was a phenomenal lap.
"It is always nice to position well in qualifying here. I am looking forward to the race tomorrow and we will see how we are with looking after tyres..."
Mercedes team chief Ross Brawn said: "We worked hard to get the right race set-up. It's warmer again tomorrow, we're not comfortable, so we'll see..."
On a warm, dry and overcast afternoon, the Mercedes men set the pace from the start with Hamilton fastest, in Q1, and Massa delivering the drama with a late saving lap in his Ferrari to avoid early elimination.
The drivers removed from the fray were the usual suspects Finn Valtteri Bottas of Williams, Mexican Esteban Gutierrez of Sauber, Frenchman Charles Pic and his Caterham team-mate Dutchman Giedo Van Der Garde, who sandwiched Frenchman Jules Bianchi of Marussia. Briton Max Chilton in the second Marussia was down in 22nd.
By mid-session, with Q2 underway, the air temperature was 19 degrees and the track temperature had climbed to 30, a big change from Friday morning's cold and rainswept conditions.
This may have spelt difficulties ahead for some teams given the unknown factor of tyre wear, but nothing seemed to have changed as Rosberg and Hamilton soared to the top of the time-screens before Vettel, on new tyres, topped the lot with a best lap for Red Bull.
Within seconds of the flag falling, Webber threw his Red Bull up to second with others following suit to push Hamilton down to sixth, separated from Rosberg by Sutil and Ricciardo.
Out after Q2 went the 2009 champion Briton Jenson Button of McLaren in 11th ahead of Brazilian Felipe Massa of Ferrari, Frenchman Jean-Eric Vergne of Toro Rosso, Mexican Sergio Perez in the second McLaren, German Nico Hulkenberg of Sauber and Venezuelan Pastor Maldonado in the leading Williams on the weekend of their celebrations for starting 600 Grands Prix, a landmark they reach in Germany next Sunday.
All this meant that Paul Di Resta joined Hamilton as one of the last two Britons in the fray, while Alonso, Grosjean and Raikkonen also squeezed through to claim their places in the top-ten shootout.
Rosberg soon set the pace until Hamilton, seemingly fuelled by people power, outpaced him by 1.5 seconds to go top as the big crowd readied themselves for a furious finale.