Michael Schumacher came out on top in qualifying for the Monaco Grand Prix but the five-place grid penalty that he carries over from the last race in Barcelona will hand the pole position to Mark Webber.
The seven-time world champion was eight-hundredths of a second faster than Webber, who managed to get the most out of the Red Bull car to take an impressive second place in the session. Nico Rosberg will start alongside the Australian on the front-row tomorrow.
Lewis Hamilton, who qualified fourth, will start from third place, alongside the Lotus of Romain Grosjean.
Jenson Button was a surprise casualty of Q2, and qualified only thirteenth.
Sergio Perez brought out a red flag within the first five minutes of the session after hitting a barrier on the way out of the swimming pool section and failed to set a time.
They said before the qualifying session began that it would be a close fight for pole. McLaren were tipped to do well, as were Lotus. In the final race for pole position, most of the pole contenders went out at the beginning of Q3 to do two-lap runs. Grosjean made a good start with a 1:14.639, but that was beaten by Rosberg with a 1:14.572 on the second of his flying laps.
Nobody else managed to topple these two until the clock has almost ticked down to zero. Then Mark Webber came from nowhere to set a time of 1:14.381. It looked like it was over, until Michael Schumacher came through with a time of 1:14.301.
Rosberg was over two-tenths off his team-mate's pole time, ending the session third. Lewis Hamilton was fourth and Romain Grosjean, who had been one of the favourites for pole position, qualified only fifth. These three drivers, along with Fernando Alonso, who qualified sixth, will also move forward one place when Schumacher's penalty is applied an hour before the race.
Schumacher will start from sixth, Felipe Massa and Kimi Raikkonen, who qualified seventh and eighth respectively.
Pastor Maldonado qualified ninth, but has a ten-place grid penalty after crashing into Sergio Perez in Free Practice 3 this morning. Sebastian Vettel, who did not set a lap-time in Q3, will start ninth in the Venezuelan's place.
Nico Hulkenberg out-qualified Force India team-mate Paul di Resta, but could not find his way out of Q2, and had to settle for P11, which will become tenth once Maldonado's penalty is applied.
Kamui Kobayashi was about a tenth of a second slower the German as he qualified twelfth.
Jenson Button had a poor lap on his last attempt to get through to Q3, and ended Q2 down in P13. Bruno Senna, Di Resta, and Daniel Ricciardo also failed to make an impression on the top ten, and qualified fourteenth to sixteenth.
Jean-Eric Vergne, who managed to lose his front wing and damage his right-rear suspension coming out of the tunnel during Q2, qualified seventeenth. The Frenchman managed to recover his Toro Rosso back to the garage, but could not get back out on track to improve on his lap time.
Despite Perez's early exit, which pretty much guaranteed that all apart from the Caterham, Marussia and HRT drivers would make it through to Q2, several drivers went out on the Pirelli supersoft tyres during Q1. This included Kimi Raikkonen, Sebastian Vettel and Nico Hulkenberg, who actually ended up set the fastest time during the first part of qualifying.
Raikkonen needed those supersoft tyres late on in Q1, with Heikki Kovalainen briefly knocking him into the drop-zone. Vettel was also close to elimination.
In the end, however, the normal order was established. Kovalainen finished the session in eighteenth place, out-qualifying Caterham team-mate Vitaly Petrov. Timo Glock qualified in P20, but HRT's Pedro de la Rosa was faster than Glock's Marussia team-mate Charles Pic. Narain Karthikeyan, once again, was the slowest of those drivers who actually set a lap in Q1.
Perez will start from the back of the grid after the crash that sent him out of qualifying, which happened on his first attempt at a flying lap. It was the first time in his career that the Mexican had been eliminated during Q1.