Sebastian Vettel took his second pole position of 2012 today in Montreal with an impressive lap that was three-tenths of a second faster than the rest of the field.
Lewis Hamilton will start tomorrow's Canadian Grand Prix alongside the reigning world champion, with Fernando Alonso third and Mark Webber fourth.
Nico Rosberg, who missed out on the morning practice session after a fuel injection problem in his Mercedes, recovered to qualify fifth, ahead of Felipe Massa, Romain Grosjean and Paul di Resta.
Michael Schumacher and Jenson Button had a disappointing Q3, and had to settle for ninth and tenth on the grid, whilst Kimi Raikkonen was the high profile casualty of Q2.
After topping the timesheets in both Friday practice sessions, Lewis Hamilton looked an almost certain to grab his fourth pole position in Canada, but Sebastian Vettel made McLaren sit up and take notice by setting the fastest time in the final practice session this morning. Ferrari and Mercedes also looked threatening.
Indeed, Sebastian Vettel was fastest in Q1, despite using only the Pirelli soft tyre, and not the supersoft tyre like some of his fellow pole contenders. Towards the end of Q1, a lot of the drivers, including the McLaren duo, felt the need to burn a set of the softer tyres during this early part of the session.
The reigning world champion was fastest again in Q2, but Alonso and Hamilton were not far off, and neither were the two Mercedes drivers. They all headed into Q3 thinking they had a chance for pole position.
Hamilton was first out of the pits for the pole position shoot-out, but abandoned his first flying lap. Nico Rosberg was the first to put a realistic marker down, but his time of 1:14.664 was quickly beaten by Felipe Massa, with a 1:14.465.
Sebastian Vettel was the first to set a time that broke the 74-second barrier, and his time of 1:13.905 was unbeaten during the first round of flying laps. The pole contenders then dived back into the pits for a fresh set of the supersoft tyres.
Vettel was first to put in his second attempt, shaving another 0.121 seconds of his lap. Hamilton could not beat that time, nor indeed the time Vettel set on his first attempt, and had to settle for second.
Others finished their laps, but none of them could trouble the front row of the grid. They were instead amongst themselves for the remainder of the top ten positions. Michael Schumacher aborted his second attempt at a flying lap, and had to settle for ninth place.
Jenson Button only left the pits once during Q3, and that was on a set of soft tyres. He did complete a lap, however, and will start tomorrow's grand prix from tenth place on different tyres from the rest of the top ten.
The 2009 champion almost failed to reach Q3. He was sitting in a precarious tenth place just as the final few laps of Q2 were being completed. Pastor Maldonado had set the fastest first sector of any driver on his last flying lap, and was looking to jump up the timesheets. On the final corner though, he clouted the wall of champions with his right-rear tyre, spun spectacularly, and ended the session down in P17, from where he will start tomorrow's race.
Although Button escaped a Q2 exit, Kimi Raikkonen could manage only twelfth place, behind the Sauber of Kamui Kobayashi.
Despite Force India looking good during the weekend, Nico Hulkenberg could finish Q2 only thirteenth, but he will start ahead of Daniel Ricciardo, Sergio Perez, and Bruno Senna, who line up P14 through to P16.
It may have been close in Q2, but at the end of Q1, there was a clear divide between the winners and losers: Heikki Kovalainen in eighteenth was 0.711 seconds slower than Ricciardo in seventeenth. However, both Caterham drivers out-qualified Toro Rosso man Jean-Eric Vergne though, and the Frenchman will start in a lowly P20 tomorrow, just behind Vitaly Petrov.
Pedro de la Rosa put in a good lap for HRT to take P21 ahead of the Marussia drivers Timo Glock and Charles Pic. Narain Karthikeyan was, once again, dead last.