Lewis Hamilton overcame the challenge of teammate Valtteri Bottas to claim his 75th Formula 1 pole in an eventful qualifying session at the French GP on Saturday.
The reigning world champion produced a 1m30.028s in the all-important Q3 to finish 0.118s clear of his Finnish teammate, making the difference in the final sector.
Sebastian Vettel tried to get in the battle but ultimately fell short with a poor final lap and had to settle for third in the Ferrari.
Red Bull have split strategies in terms of set-up with Max Verstappen using a lower downforce rear wing while Daniel Ricciardo opted for a higher.
The gap between them would almost two-tenths of a second in the Dutchman's favour as Verstappen took fourth with the Australian fifth.
Both would outperform Kimi Raikkonen in the second Ferrari as the 2007 world champion again failed to deliver when it matters.
F1's rising star reaches a new level
The Finn's disappointing result was in contrast to Sauber's Charles Leclerc, who has been heavily linked to his seat for next year this week.
The F2 champion produced the Swiss team's best qualifying since Italy 2015 in eighth, marking the Monegasque's first Q3 appearance in his career.
Leading the midfield though would be Carlos Sainz in the Renault, as the Spaniard gave the French manufacturer something to cheer at their home race.
A strong weekend for Romain Grosjean would be undone in the final top 10 shootout as the Haas driver slid into the wall at Turn 3 on his first flying lap, meaning he will start 10th.
His incident, which caused a red flag, also compromised teammate Kevin Magnussen with the Dane one place ahead in ninth.
French disappointment in Q2
Q2 proved a chaotic session as light rain forced all the drivers out early to try and set a banker lap on the slick tyres.
With the track remaining dry enough though, it was Mercedes who had a huge advantage initially on the Supersoft tyre - which they will start the race on - before the other closed in later
The drizzle would ease with everyone bar Verstappen heading back out for a second run on the purple-striped compound in case the circuit got considerably faster.
It wouldn't, but the battle for Q3 would be fierce with Esteban Ocon the victim of Leclerc's brilliance in P11, finishing just 0.02s slower in his Force India.
Nico Hulkenberg would be within half a tenth in 12th in the second Renault with Sergio Perez 13th.
Pierre Gasly will also be disappointed in 14th for Toro Rosso as Marcus Ericsson produced a good performance in his first real session after his crash in Practice 1 in 15th.
Two historic teams slump to the back
The big shock in Q1 was McLaren as neither Fernando Alonso nor Stoffel Vandoorne could make it into the top 15.
After winning at Le Mans a week ago, the Spaniard will only start 16th for the race on Sunday with his Belgian teammate to start right behind him.
The two Williams' continued to bring up the timings, as Sergey Sirotkin led Lance Stroll, but will move ahead of Brendon Hartley as the Kiwi will take a grid penalty for new engine parts and start last.
Full results from qualifying can be seen below:
Mercedes back as the kings of qualifying
An upgraded engine which is actually more powerful than initially expected and the same thinner treaded tyres which proved advantageous in Spain have helped Mercedes once again become the leading force over a single lap.
The question now is whether they will remain ahead over the 53 laps on Sunday, which typically see Ferrari and Red Bull close the gap.
Should Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas keep as fast-starting Vettel at bay at the start though, the only factor which could interrupt them is the weather as the same showers that impacted on Saturday are forecast for the race as well.
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