Nico Rosberg will have the advantage out on track having beaten Lewis Hamilton to pole position for the title-deciding Abu Dhabi GP.
On a weekend where Rosberg is in desperate need of the race win, the German boosted his chances of securing the 2014 World Championship.
Although Hamilton, who has a 17-point advantage in the standings, set the pace in Q1 and again in Q2, when it came down to it, it was Rosberg who emerged victories.
He took the early initiative with a 1:40.697 only to improve to a 1:40.480.
Hamilton just didn’t have the pace to challenge his team-mate and finished 0.386s short.
However, should Hamilton hold that position through to the chequered flag in Sunday’s race, he will secure the crown no matter where Rosberg finishes.
Behind them the battle to finish third was closer than expected.
While many believed Williams would romp away with it, Red Bull, McLaren and Ferrari gave them a run for it to start with.
Williams, though, always seemed to have the edge with Felipe Massa best of the rest in Q1 while both Valtteri Bottas and the Brazilian even split the Mercedes drivers in Q2.
However, it was all Mercedes in Q3 leaving Williams to lock out the front row of the grid with Bottas ahead of Massa. They were 0.5 and 0.6s off the pace.
Daniel Ricciardo was fifth for Red Bull Racing, 0.7s down, while Sebastian Vettel will join him on the third row as team-mates for the final time.
Daniil Kvyat, Jenson Button and Kimi Raikkonen were next in line while Fernando Alonso’s final qualifying for Ferrari ended in a P10.
With the format tweaked due to Caterham’s return to the grid, five cars were eliminated in Q1 and a further five in Q2.
Debutant Will Stevens finished qualifying slowest of all but will start P19 as Romain Grosjean has a 20-place penalty but, as he could only drop four places, will have a time penalty for the race.
They were eliminated in Q1 along with Esteban Gutierrez, Pastor Maldonado and Kamui Kobayashi.
Out in Q2 were Kevin Magnussen, Jean-Eric Vergne, Sergio Perez, Nico Hulkenberg and Adrian Sutil.
01 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:40.480
02 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:40.866 +0.386
03 Valtteri Bottas Williams 1:41.025 +0.545
04 Felipe Massa Williams 1:41.119 +0.639
05 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull 1:41.267 +0.787
06 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull 1:41.893 +1.413
07 Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso 1:41.908 +1.428
08 Jenson Button McLaren 1:41.964 +1.484
09 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 1:42.236 +1.756
10 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1:42.866 +2.386
11 Kevin Magnussen McLaren 1:42.198
12 Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso 1:42.207
13 Sergio Perez Force India 1:42.239
14 Nico Hulkenberg Force India 1:42.384
15 Adrian Sutil Sauber 1:43.074
16 Romain Grosjean Lotus 1:42.768
17 Esteban Gutierrez Sauber 1:42.819
18 Pastor Maldonado Lotus 1:42.860
19 Kamui Kobayashi Caterham 1:44.540
20 Will Stevens Sauber 1:45.095