Sebastian Vettel secured his sixth pole position of the season after smashing the lap record at the Gilles Villeneuve circuit in Montreal.
The world champion – who leads this year’s standings by 61 points – edged out Ferrari duo of Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa.
His team-mate Mark Webber ended up fourth with the McLaren pair of Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button struggling in fifth and seventh respectively.
But it was serene progress for Vettel at the front as Red Bull secured their eighth consecutive pole position – a run stretching back toBrazillast year.
His pole lap of 1.13.014 was over two-seconds quicker than Lewis Hamilton’s pole-time set twelve months ago.
His performance was all the more remarkable considering his big crash yesterday at the exit of the last corner – dubbed the Wall of Champions
Vettel said: “It is a tricky track with the chicanes and the kerbs to understand. All in all I’m very happy, it’s obviously a big step. But the big thing is tomorrow, conditions are very likely to change but how much we don’t know.”
But Red Bull did not have everything their own way.
Ferrari produced their strongest qualifying performance of the year so far with both drivers within a quarter of a second of Vettel.
Alonso added: “I feel good, I feel confident. We concentrate on qualifying on Saturday and this is the best result of the year for the team, second and third.
“Two tenths or one and a half tenths behind Red Bull is encouraging. I am looking forward to the race.
“Maybe it is the least important qualifying of the year with the weather forecast (for rain) and we are second and third. But still it is good to be as high as possible and we have a chance to win the race.”
McLaren will be praying for rain as they boldly decided to opt for a wet-weather aerodynamic package.
Team principal Martin Whitmarsh told the BBC that the forecasts suggested a 60% chance of rain on Sunday.
Webber ended a difficult day with fourth on the grid but said he was happy.
The Australian had to miss the final practice session on Saturday morning because of a KERS failure and the team were unable to fix it before qualifying.
It’s a bit of a shame for Mark,” Vettel said. “He was not able to run this morning, so that makes it hard to find a rhythm, but I’m sure both of us will be strong tomorrow.”
Mercedes and Renault emphasised their competitiveness by completing the top-ten and both will look to score heavily tomorrow.
Scotland’s Paul di Resta and fellow rookie Pastor Maldonado both narrowly missed out on making Q3 and will start an impressive 11th and 12th after out-qualifying their more illustrious team-mates.
“If I had taken an extra set of tyres, I might have been able to beat (Renault’s) Nick Heidfeld, even though there wasn’t a lot left out there,” said di Resta.
“But it’s probably better to be starting on the clean side of the grid with an extra set of tyres for the race.
“Since we started at the weekend, the car’s been working well. The track is all about commitment. It seemed to appeal to me quickly and it’s looking quite promising for the race,” he said.
At the back of the grid it was a bad day for under pressure Toro Rosso driver Jaime Alguersuari.
The Spaniard who’s place with the team has been the source of increased speculation failed to get out of Q1 and will line up 18th.
Hispania, with some major upgrades, won the back-of-the-grid battle with Virgin, with Vitantonio Liuzzi taking 21st place ahead of Virgin’s Timo Glock.
The German’s team-mate Jerome D’Ambrosio failed to set a time within 107% of the fastest time in the first session and did not qualify for the race.
He will only be allowed to race if the stewards grant him an exemption.