Sebastian Vettel waited until the final moment to produce a stunning lap in a truly dominant qualifying session for Red Bull in Austin.
The German's 1:36.338 was enough to pip team-mate Mark Webber by just over a tenth of a second in a great inter-team battle at the Circuit of the Americas.
Romain Grosjean was best of the rest for Lotus though was over eight tenths of a second behind the leading Red Bull, his team-mate for the final races Heikki Kovalainen was eighth on an impressive return.
Nico Hulkenberg produced another stunning effort for Sauber to take fourth ahead of the only Mercedes in the top ten with Lewis Hamilton behind the wheel.
Fernando Alonso managed sixth while the large contingent of Mexican fans had something to cheer with Sergio Perez in seventh and Esteban Gutierrez in tenth.
Valtteri Bottas continued his strong form from practice running as high as third before dropping down to ninth.
With some surprise names in the top ten it meant we had some disappointed drivers further down the order.
The most disappointing will be Nico Rosberg who could only qualify 14th though he is ahead of Ferrari's Felipe Massa as the Brazilian endured a difficult session.
Jenson Button is another notable absentee from the top ten for McLaren, he could only finish 13th which will become 16th after his three place penalty for overtaking under red flags.
Joining them in the midfield is Daniel Ricciardo in eleventh ahead of Paul di Resta, then will come Rosberg and Massa with Jean-Eric Vergne in 15th in the second Toro Rosso.
The first segment was all about a very slow track as the wind at the Circuit of the Americas unsettled a lot of cars through the high speed corners.
Felipe Massa was nearly an early casualty but managed to take the final place in Q2 in 16th, instead it was Force India's Adrian Sutil who was kocked out after suffered with traffic on his flying lap and Pastor Maldonado who continues to struggle for Williams.
Of the slower teams Caterham appear to have the edge on Marussia as Giedo van der Garde and Charles Pic finished ahead of Jules Bianchi and Max Chilton in that order.
Frenchman Pic will however start at the back of the grid after picking up a five place grid drop for changing the gearbox on his Caterham.
Back at the front and such is the gap between Red Bull and the rest it seems to be a two horse race for victory on Sunday between Vettel and Webber and with the Australian desperate for one more win before retirement it promises to be a very interesting race.
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