Mercedes were celebrating on Saturday their first front-row lock-out since the 1955 Italian Grand Prix at Monza and driver Nico Rosberg's maiden pole position, on a day of firsts in Shanghai.
Rosberg described it as "a very special day" after he demolished the field to take pole for the Chinese Grand Prix on Sunday. His team-mate and fellow German Michael Schumacher was third-fastest but takes second on the grid.
McLaren's Lewis Hamilton, who was second fastest in qualifying, already knew he would be hit with a five-place penalty for a gearbox infraction, making it a Mercedes one-two.
"Firstly it was a strange feeling because I was watching the end of Q3 (final qualifying) from the FIA garage as we decided to save a set of option tyres for the race, and I couldn't do anything but watch," said Rosberg, 26.
"Seeing that I finished at the top of the timesheets and with half a second in hand made me the happiest man today.
"Thanks to the team, everyone here and in the factories, who have done a great job to develop and improve our Silver Arrow.
"We don't know what will happen in the race tomorrow, and it will be a challenge to stay in front, but for the moment, I will enjoy starting next to Michael from the front row, which is also very special to me."
Seven-time world champion Schumacher said it was "a special day for our Mercedes-Benz team".
"It's a great result, and I am very happy for everybody. Congratulations to Nico, he achieved his first pole position with a just fabulous lap. I can easily respect he did the better job today, and I am happy for him."
Schumacher added: "We are doing all we can to bring the Mercedes-Benz name to the front, where it belongs. As for me, I am happy too, and obviously my ambition for the race is to stay where we are now."
Ross Brawn, Mercedes team principal, said: "It was an exceptional qualifying session for us and I am very pleased with the way the whole team worked to achieve it.
"Congratulations to both drivers, but especially Nico on a stunning lap which earned him his first pole position."