A dominant Lewis Hamilton delivered another crushing display over his title rival Nico Rosberg to secure pole position for the championship-deciding Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
Hamilton was in a field of one under the floodlights at the Yas Marina Circuit to finish more than three tenths of a second ahead of Rosberg.
But the German, who is 12 points ahead of Hamilton, will join his Mercedes team-mate on the front row, and should he finish in the top three tomorrow evening, he will be crowned world champion.
Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo crossed the line as the best of the rest to line up in third with Kimi Raikkonen fourth on the grid for Ferrari.
Hamilton has been in imperious form in recent races and his pole here never appeared in doubt.
The 31-year-old’s margin of victory was an emphatic one, and will send a strong message to his rival on the opposite side of the Mercedes garage.
Yet a victory on Sunday will not be enough for Hamilton who is being cheered on this weekend by his mother Carmen.
He needs Rosberg to finish outside the top three, but based on today’s result, it would appear only a mechanical issue or first-corner tangle will stop the German from emulating his father Keke, the 1982 world champion.
Ricciardo was a distant third, half-a-second down on Rosberg with Raikkonen, Sebastian Vettel and Max Verstappen even further back. Rosberg is doing all he needs to do.
“It has been a great weekend so far,” said Hamilton after securing the 61st pole of his career. “It has been strange coming here realising this will be the last practice and qualifying sessions with this car. It has been such a privilege driving this car.”
Rosberg said: “I am not ecstatic today. Lewis just did a good job. There will be opportunities for tomorrow. I will try and go for the win.”
Away from the championship battle Jenson Button is treating Sunday’s grand prix as his final in the sport.
The 2009 world champion, who will step aside for McLaren’s highly-rated reserve driver Stoffel Vandoorne next year, lines up 12th on the grid for his 305th and probably final race.
Button, 36, missed out on the top-10 shootout by just two tenths of a second, but seemed pleased with his evening’s work. His McLaren team-mate Fernando Alonso qualified ninth.
The Spaniard will be joined there on the fifth row by his former Ferrari team-mate Felipe Massa. The Brazilian, who missed out on the 2008 title to Hamilton by just one point, is calling time on his career, and will start his final race from 10th.
Jolyon Palmer is coming to the end of a first season in the sport which has improved with every outing. And the 24-year-old from Horsham impressed here again on Saturday, out-qualifying his Renault team-mate Kevin Magnussen in 15th.
Magnussen, who is departing for American team Haas, is 18th on the grid.