German Sebastian Vettel secured his second pole position of the season and 32nd of his career on Saturday when he clocked the fastest time during qualifying for Sunday's Canadian Grand Prix.
The 24-year-old Red Bull driver, last year's pole-winner, scorched to the front of the grid in dramatic style with a fastest lap of the Gilles Villeneuve circuit in one minute 13.784 seconds.
Briton Lewis Hamilton of McLaren was second, closely followed by championship leader Spaniard Fernando Alonso of Ferrari.
Australian Mark Webber was fourth fastest in the second Red Bull followed by German Nico Rosberg of Mercedes.
"I think we have learned a couple of lessons from the last few races where we were quick but we didn't get it out of the car in qualifying," said Vettel, who is hoping to become the first driver to win two races this season.
"I was happy throughout qualifying really, I was able to get a little bit quicker each time. It looked tight in the beginning but in the end we could make a bit more of a difference.
"I'm looking forward to the race. I think we have a good car."
Vettel's time was a third of a second quicker than Hamilton.
"It was definitely harder for us today - we struggled," admitted Hamilton.
"We're very happy with our performance, and very surprised to see us on the front row, but happy to be there."
Third-placed Alonso was delighted with the performance of his car after the Italian team struggled for pace early on in the season.
He said: "We feel much more happy with the balance of the car. It's a first step.
"Obviously the world and other teams will never stop but at the moment we are extremely happy and I'm thankful for the guys in the factory."
Webber said he was surprised to have finished so high up the grid after claiming not to have performed well.
"I'm surprised I'm in fourth - it wasn't the smoothest session, so I'm actually quite surprised to be there," said the Australian.
"I wasn't super happy with the last few runs in terms of confidence in the car and that means you don't get the most out of yourself, so fourth is okay.
"It's a long race and we're up there. Seb did a very good lap. The car's good here and the weather should be good tomorrow for the race."
Brazilian Felipe Massa followed in the second Ferrari ahead of Frenchman Romain Grosjean of Lotus, Force India driver Briton Paul Di Resta and German Michael Schmacher in the second Mercedes.
Briton Jenson Button's qualifying problems continued as he struggled to keep pace with rival drivers and opted not to set a time on the supersoft tyres.
In turn, he will have an extra set of tyres in the race but will start tenth on the grid in the second McLaren.
On a glorious summer's day in Montreal, blessed with warm sunshine and blue skies, drivers were able to make the most out of the improved conditions as were the Canadian crowd, who were out in force despite student protesters threatening to block access to subway lines leading to the circuit as part of an ongoing fight against a raise in tuition fees.