Nico Rosberg's title bid received a fresh boost as the German put in a sensational lap to secure a crucial pole position for the Singapore Grand Prix as Daniel Ricciardo managed to split the Mercedes.
Rosberg put in a superb 1:42.584 on his first run in Q3 to ultimately take pole by half a second ahead of Red Bull's Ricciardo, who promoted himself to P2 with a mighty final sector right at the death.
After a scruffy pair of practice sessions, Lewis Hamilton was unable to string a good lap together in Q3 and wound up seven tenths adrift, in desparate need of a good start on Sunday if he is to overhaul his team-mate.
Max Verstappen will start 4th, while Kimi Raikkonen took 5th for Ferrari as suspension issues saw team-mate Sebastian Vettel crash out at the first hurdle.
Toro Rosso enjoyed a strong session as Carlos Sainz grabbed P6, with Daniil Kvyat enjoying his best qualifying since his demotion from Red Bull in 7th.
Nico Hulkenberg, Fernando Alonso and Sergio Perez rounded out the top ten, though the latter may face a stewards' investigation after seemingly failing to slow for yellow flags late in Q2.
Valtteri Bottas missed out on the top-ten shoot-out by the finest of margins - just three thousandths of a second - while team-mate Felipe Massa was also dumped out in Q2.
Jenson Button was forced to settle for 13th after suffering a puncture in the dying stages of Q2, while Esteban Gutierrez took P14 for Haas.
Romain Grosjean ended the session in the barriers after spinning on the run into Turn 14, with the subsequent yellow flags hampering his rivals' efforts to improve. The marshals were forced to repair the tyre wall afterwards, delaying Q3 by ten minutes.
Marcus Ericsson was able to haul his Sauber into the second part of qualifying but could ultimately manage only P16 after a solitary run in Q2.
A last-gasp improvement was not enough for Kevin Magnussen to escape the drop zone, with the Dane forced to settle for P17 ahead of Felipe Nasr and Jolyon Palmer.
Pascal Wehrlein will line-up 20th for Manor, who have fallen away from the tail end of the midfield this weekend, after out-qualifying team-mate Esteban Ocon.
But Vettel was the major casualty of Q1 as a broken anti-roll bar saw his pace deteriorate with insufficient time to repair the Ferrari. The 2015 Singapore pole-sitter is set to start from 22nd and last.