Lewis Hamilton got the better of Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg to take a morale-boosting pole position for the United States Grand Prix in Texas.
Hamilton clocked a 1:34.999 on his final run in Q3 to out-pace championship leader Rosberg by two tenths of a second, but the Englishman knows a good start is essential if he is to kick-start a monumental fightback in the remaining races.
Red Bull were unable to challenge Mercedes despite their encouraging practice pace, with Daniel Ricciardo six tenths adrift of Hamilton's benchmark in third, sharing row two with team-mate Max Verstappen.
Sebastian Vettel's frustrating run continued as he was out-qualified by Kimi Raikkonen as Ferrari once again lagged behind rivals Red Bull.
Renault-bound Nico Hulkenberg put in a strong performance to claim seventh ahead of Williams duo Valtteri Bottas and Felipe Massa, who both qualified in the top ten for the first time since Spa.
Carlos Sainz recovered from a nightmare FP3, in which he suffered two punctures, to take tenth.
Sergio Perez failed to make the shoot-out, ending a six-race streak, amidst a flurry of late improvements in Q2, with Fernando Alonso 12th on a disappointing day for McLaren.
Daniil Kvyat, fresh from confirmation that he will remain at Toro Rosso for 2017, took P13 ahead of Esteban Gutierrez and Jolyon Palmer, who battled into Q2 and avoided a penalty for allegedly impeding Jenson Button in the first part of qualifying.
Marcus Ericsson too did well to escape Q1 elimination, but could do no better than 16th, more than two seconds off the pace he needed to make Q3.
There was no joy for Romain Grosjean on Haas' home turf as he crashed out in Q1, whilst Kevin Magnussen, driving to save his Formula 1 career, also fell at the first hurdle.
Button, though, was the headline casualty of Q1 as traffic in the form of Palmer at the final corner denied him a sufficient improvement on the supersoft tyres, with the Briton forced to settle for 19th.
Pascal Wehrlein took P20, with Felipe Nasr slumping to 21st and Esteban Ocon propping up the order.