Lewis Hamilton's grip on the world drivers' championship tightened after claiming pole position for the Russian Grand Prix ahead of Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg in Sochi.
Hamilton's seventh pole of the 2014 season hands the Briton the opportunity to add to his 10-point lead in the championship, and secure a fourth successive win of the season.
The all-Mercedes front row is followed by Williams' Valtteri Bottas, who went wide on the final corner on his final qualifying lap to miss out on pole, with Jenson Button fourth, and Daniel Kvyat of Toro Rosso qualifying in a best-ever position of fifth.
"Pole is a great place to start. An amazing job done by the team," Hamilton said. "Constantly moving forward and thanks to them that we are able to be on the front row quite often.
"It wasn't the easiest of sessions and just putting out a great lap was the same as practice but I am grateful to get pole. It's a long way down to turn one so we'll see how that goes.
"The track surface is good, but it's got a lot of grip. It's an incredible place and today we had a good turnout and I hope tomorrow is even better and we can put on a show."
Against a backdrop of increasing fears regarding the condition of Jules Bianchi which sees the French driver critical in hospital, qualifying for the first Russian Grand Prix in a century began in perfect conditions for racing.
But for Felipe Massa, who labeled the race in Suzuka last weekend the worst of his career, Williams engine problems led to him dropping out in the first qualifying session while Bianchi's teammate Max Chilton finished 21st.
Following the confirmation of his move to Ferrari for the 2015 season, Sebastian Vettel's problems continued as he missed out on the top-ten shootout, finishing close to two seconds behind Hamilton, the fastest man after two qualifying sessions.
Though Rosberg was dominant through the middle sector, Hamilton's consistency allowed him a cushion of two-hundredths midway through the final qualifying session.
And that advantage, which was extended to four-hundredths, was enough for the 29 year-old to secure pole for the third time in four races, holding off Rosberg and Bottas, who drifted wide on the final corner when looking set for the front row.