Mark Webber pipped his team-mate and reigning champion Sebastian Vettel to the line to grab pole position for Sunday's Korean Grand Prix, ensuring a front-row lock-out for Red Bull.
Lewis Hamilton's McLaren will be on the second row, alongside Fernando Alonso of Ferrari, who leads the drivers' championship by four points over Vettel, who came to South Korea on the back of successive victories.
Kimi Raikkonen of Lotus was fifth-fastest, followed by Alonso's Ferrari team-mate Felipe Massa. They were ahead of the Lotus of Romain Grosjean and Nico Hulkenberg of Force India.
The Mercedes duo of Nico Rosberg and Michael Schumacher rounded out the top 10 at a dry but cool Yeongam.
A notable absentee from the top-10 shootout was Jenson Button of McLaren, who bowed out in the second qualifying session, along with the Sauber duo of Sergio Perez and Kamui Kobayashi, who was third last week in his native Japan.
Vettel was quickest in the final practice and in the first two sessions of qualifying. He appeared set for pole until he was briefly held up by Massa, allowing the Australian Webber to steam to pole.
His time of one minute 37.242 seconds just about took him over the line ahead of Vettel, in one minute 37.316 seconds.
"Very very happy to get the job done," said Webber, who started on pole at Monaco, but only after Schumacher was relegated five places on the grid for an incident in Barcelona.
"It was a reasonable lap," added cool-headed Webber, who goes into Sunday's race fifth in the drivers' standings with four races to go after this weekend. Mathematically he is still in the title hunt.
"It's been a tricky last few weeks for me," he reflected, having seen his championship ambitions slowly fade away.
Vettel refused to blame Massa for slowing him down, saying he was still pleased to be on the front row.
"Overall we can be very happy," he said. "We were quite quick in qualifying sessions one and two."
Asked about Massa, he added: "I had to back off, which was not ideal and I lost a bit today in the middle sector. But second is a very good position to start from."
Race stewards may look into an incident involving Hamilton in the pitlane when the Briton had to overtake a meandering Mercedes.
"We are not far off," he said of his chances in Korea. "I'm just happy to get a clear lap."
The starting grid for Sunday's Korean Grand Prix following the final qualifying sessions on Saturday:-
Mark Webber (AUS/Red Bull)
Sebastian Vettel (GER/Red Bull)
Lewis Hamilton (GBR/McLaren)
Fernando Alonso (ESP/Ferrari)
Kimi Raikkonen (FIN/Lotus)
Felipe Massa (BRA/Ferrari)
Romain Grosjean (FRA/Lotus)
Nico Hulkenberg (GER/Force India)
Nico Rosberg (GER/Mercedes)
Michael Schumacher (GER/Mercedes)
Jenson Button (GBR/McLaren)
Sergio Perez (MEX/Sauber)
Kamui Kobayashi (JPN/Sauber)
Paul di Resta (GBR/Force India)
Pastor Maldonado (VEN/Williams)
Daniel Ricciardo (AUS/Toro Rosso)
Jean-Eric Vergne (FRA/Toro Rosso)
Bruno Senna (BRA/Williams)
Vitaly Petrov (RUS/Caterham)
Heikki Kovalainen (FIN/Caterham)
Timo Glock (GER/Marussia)
Pedro de la Rosa (ESP/HRT)
Narain Karthikeyan (IND/HRT-Cosworth)
Charles Pic (FRA/Marussia)