For one of the few times this season it looked like someone else had the edge on Red Bull and Sebastian Vettel going into qualifying for the Grand Prix of Japan at Suzuka.
But it was a different story when it came to the crunch in Q3, with Vettel once again able to deliver the right lap at the exact right moment to claim his 12th pole position of 2011.
"There wasn't much between me and Jenson!" agreed Vettel, giving thanks to his team for their work preparing the car for him, which including repairing some minor damage sustained during at off in Free Practice 1 on Friday.
"I went off in the free practice yesterday and damaged the front wing, so it wasn't ideal to prepare the car for today," he explained. "We suffered a bit from that this morning regarding the car's balance and were too slow. We sat down after P3 and looked at where we could improve and we were able to extract everything out of the car in qualifying, which was crucial."
"A phenomenal qualifying," was team boss Christian Horner's reaction to the session. "It was very, very close with a tremendous last lap from Sebastian. It's been tight with the McLarens all weekend and he produced a remarkable last lap to get the pole by one hundredth of a second. This rewards the hard work that's taken place both here and in the factory."
Mark Webber, on the other hand, was down in sixth place behind the McLaren and Ferrari cars, and was none too happy with the outcome.
"I'm very surprised to be sixth. I did my best, but it wasn't quick enough and it was a bit of a surprise that I couldn't go with the pace there at the end," he said afterwards. "I'm disappointed to be on the third row ... Clearly I didn't get the most out of it today. I'll wake up and push tomorrow."
"With Mark, he was up on his last run and was purple in his first sector, but thereafter the lap seemed to move away from him time-wise and he wasn't able to improve in the final two sectors in a very, very tight grid," said Horner.
"Hopefully he can make good progress from there tomorrow," he added.