A mistake by Kimi Raikkonen handed pole position to championship rival Fernando Alonso at the Brazil Grand Prix.
BRAZIL GP QUALIFYING
1. Fernando Alonso
2. Juan Pablo Montoya
3. Giancarlo Fisichella
4. Jenson Button
5. Kimi Raikkonen
6. Christian Klien
7. Michael Schumacher
8. Jarno Trulli
Going out second last, Alonso piled the pressure on Raikkonen by posting a time of one minute, 11.988 seconds in his Renault at Interlagos.
And Raikkonen locked his wheel at the first corner and finished a poor fifth.
The Finn's McLaren team-mate Juan Pablo Montoya was second fastest, ahead of Giancarlo Fisichella and Jenson Button with Christian Klien a superb sixth.
Alonso needs only a podium finish to become the youngest Formula One champion in history at 24.
And the Spaniard gave himself every chance of acheiving that by putting in an aggressive drive when he might have adopted a cautious approach.
Alonso led through all sections of his lap, overhauling the time of 1:12.145 set by Montoya in style.
As impressive as he was, the drive of the day belonged to Klien, who went a second quicker than team-mate David Coulthard to propel his Red Bull on to the third row.
Robert Doornbos was less fortunate in his Minardi, spinning out and recording no time.
And Jarno Trulli qualified in eighth spot, but will lose 10 grid places after changing his engine.
Takuma Sato, meanwhile, did not even attempt a lap, aware that he faced penalties for an engine switch, as well as for his part in a collision with Michael Schumacher at the Belgian GP.
Schumacher qualified in seventh place.
1. Fernando Alonso (Spa) Renault, 1 minute, 11.988 seconds.
2. Juan Pablo Montoya (Col) McLaren-Mercedes, 1:12.145.
3. Giancarlo Fisichella (Ita) Renault, 1:12.558.
4. Jenson Button (GB) BAR-Honda, 1:12.696.
5. Kimi Raikkonen (Fin) McLaren-Mercedes, 1:12.781.
6. Christian Klien (Aut) Red Bull-Cosworth, 1:12.889.
7. Michael Schumacher (Ger) Ferrari, 1:12.976.
8. Jarno Trulli (Ita) Toyota, 1:13.041.*
9. Felipe Massa (Bra) Sauber-Petronas, 1:13.151.
10. Rubens Barrichello (Bra) Ferrari, 1:13.183.
11. Ralf Schumacher (Ger) Toyota, 1:13.285.
12. Jacques Villeneuve (Can) Sauber-Petronas, 1:13.372.
13. Tiego Monteiro (Por) Jordan-Toyota, 1:13.387.
14. Mark Webber (Aus) Williams-BMW, 1:13.538.
15. Antonio Pizzonia (Bra) Williams-BMW, 1:13.581.
16. David Coulthard (Sco) Red Bull-Cosworth, 1:13.844.
17. Narain Karthikeyan (Ind) Jordan-Toyota, 1:14.520.
18. Christijan Albers (Ned) Minardi-Cosworth, 1:14.763.
19. Robert Doornbos (Mon) Minardi-Cosworth, no time.
20. Takuma Sato (Jpn) BAR-Honda, no time.
* Trulli will lose 10 places on the grid.