Mark Webber continued Red Bull's stunning qualifying run by securing a sixth successive pole for the Milton Keynes-based squad on the street of Monaco.
The Australian set his quickest time when it really mattered in Q3 to secure his place at the head of the field after Robert Kubica looked set to give Renault pole on the streets of the principality.
At one point, Kubica was a second clear of anyone during the final stage of the session but then Webber was able to suddenly jump to the top of the times, a fraction of a second clear of the Pole.
On his next quick lap, Webber dipped into the 1min 13secs bracket and Kubica was unable to respond and had to settle for second place.
Sebastian Vettel made it a 1-3 for Red Bull as he set the third quickest time lap on in the session while Felipe Massa was fourth for Ferrari – although the Brazilian had earlier set the pace in Q1 in the only car entered in the session by the team after Fernando Alonso's practice accident.
Lewis Hamilton was fifth ahead of Mercedes duo Nico Rosberg – who admitted afterwards he should have had pole – and Michael Schumacher with Jenson Button down in eighth. Button had been held up by Massa at the end of his first flying lap in Q3 but was lucky to even make it through to the final stage of the session as he struggled for speed in Q2.
Rubens Barrichello starts ninth after an improved showing for Williams, while Tonio Liuzzi rounds out the top ten.
The latter stages of Q2 saw disappointment for both Nico Hulkenberg and Adrian Sutil who had sat inside the top ten before being knocked back late on – with Sutil being affected by yellow flags after Vitaly Petrov went off the road into the barriers at St Devote.
The pair start eleventh and twelfth ahead of Sebastien Buemi and Petrov, while Pedro de la Rosa, Kamui Kobayashi and Jaime Alguersuari also failed to make it past Q2.
Kobayashi in particular was lucky to make it past Q1 as the three new teams joined Alonso in falling at the first hurdle.
Kobayashi sat on the cusp of being knocked out at the first hurdle as Lotus driver Heikki Kovalainen did his best to make it through to Q2 but two spins in as many laps didn't aid his hopes of beating the Sauber man.
Despite being closer to the pace, Kovalainen had to settle for 18th on the grid ahead of team-mate Jarno Trulli, with the two Virgin cars and the Hispania entries rounding out the grid.
Needing a new chassis following his accident in final practice, Alonso will start from the pit lane.