Defending world champion Sebastian Vettel completed a third successive Red Bull front row lockout on Saturday when he took pole position for Sunday's Indian Grand Prix ahead of his team-mate Mark Webber.
The 25-year-old German, who is seeking to become the youngest triple champion in F1 history, made an error on his first flying lap in the top-ten shootout but responded with a second effort in one minute and 25.283 seconds to clock the fastest time.
His fifth pole of the season was achieved without quite the luxurious advantage that he had appeared to enjoy through his domination of all three free practice sessions beforehand.
His Australian partner Webber did his utmost to match him, but could only deliver 1:25.327 and took second place again as Red Bull proved they have the overall pace to start as clear favourites.
Rivals McLaren did their best to break the Red Bull monopoly - Vettel has also won the last three races to move six points clear at the top of the drivers' title race - but they ended up third and fourth.
Briton Lewis Hamilton took third late in the session to jump ahead of his team-mate and compatriot Jenson Button on the grid.
The two Ferraris of Spaniard Fernando Alonso and Brazilian Felipe Massa are on the third row after filling fifth and sixth places.
Alonso, leader for a long period of the season, is now six points behind Vettel and with four races remaining needs to deliver a strong result, if not a victory, to stay in serious contention.
Kimi Raikkonen of Lotus qualified seventh ahead of Sergio Perez of Sauber, Pastor Maldonado of Williams and Nico Rosberg who was 10th for Mercedes.
On another near-perfect day at the Buddh International Circuit, where the air temperature hovered around 30 degrees Celsius, Q1 saw the usual suspects struggling at the back of the field and eliminated.
The non-qualifiers were led by Jean-Eric Vergne of Toro Rosso who was 18th ahead of Vitaly Petrov and his Caterham team-mate Heikki Kovalainen, and Timo Glock of Marussia.
Behind them and also out were the two Hispania drivers Pedro de la Rosa and local hero Indian Narain Karthikeyan, whose great effort in front of his home crowd, could not produce any greater pace from his car.
He would end up 23rd, one place ahead of last man Charles Pic in the second Marussia in a mini-session that saw Vettel top the time ahead of Hamilton and Raikkonen.
Q2 saw much the same with Vettel on top again with some ease ahead of Button, thanks to a late lap, Webber and Hamilton as the Red Bull and McLaren teams flexed their mechanical muscles ahead of the top ten showdown.
In the scrap to make the cut, bold laps from Perez and Raikkonen salvaged their places in Q3 and left Romain Grosjean out in 11th place in the second Lotus.
He was eliminated along with Nico Hulkenberg of Force, Bruno Senna of Williams, Michael Schumacher in the second Mercedes and Daniel Ricciardo of Toro Rosso.
Briton Paul Di Resta finished 16th ahead of an equally disappointed Japanese Kamui Kobayashi in the second Sauber.
Both men epitomised the shifting nature of fortunes in Formula One as their performances were in contrast to brighter displays by their team-mates in the annual battle for any free seats in the top teams.
Grosjean, widely criticised for his wild starts and many opening lap collisions this year, looked especially upset at failing to make the top ten for only the second time this season.
If that was a warning to the men around him on the grid, it was sure to be heeded as Hamilton made an early exit from the pit-lane for Q3 in his bid to make sure Vettel was made to work hard for his advantage.