Nico Rosberg only needed one lap to take his first Formula 1 pole position over a half a second ahead of Lewis Hamilton.
Rosberg has looked quick all weekend, but had yet to top the time-sheets going into qualifying. He will sit alongside Michael Schumacher on the first row of the grid. The elder German will inherit the position from Hamilton, who has a five-place grid drop. It is the first all-Mercedes front row since 1955, when Fangio and Moss locked out the Italian grid.
Mercedes are now a shoe in for their first victory, in this incarnation, but who takes victory remains to be seen. Behind them there was all manner of surprises with Kamui Kobayashi slipping into fourth place. Kimi Raikkonen continued to improve since his return to F1 and found himself just behind Kobayashi.
Jenson Button and Mark Webber seemed to have problems during the sessions and used up more soft tyres than they would have wanted. The pair could only manage sixth and seventh and will have to work hard in the race. They will both benefit from the Hamilton grid drop, with Hamilton being bumped back to seventh.
Although Fernando Alonso fared better than his team-mate he compounded a difficult season for the Ferrari team. He will struggle to repeat his result in Malaysia in the race. Felipe Massa must surely be worrying about his position within the Ferrari team, as he was also knocked out of the second session. He came close in the first session also, but a quick change into the options helped him out.
The second qualifying session proved to be one of the closest in living memory; only three tenths split first to tenth. With the margins so close the session was perfectly poised for a few surprises and it wasn’t long until we got that. Sebastian Vettel was knocked down to eleventh and his last lap wasn’t enough to get him into the top-ten shoot-out, making him this week’s unhappy bunny.