Lewis Hamilton put McLaren on pole position for the first Abu Dhabi Grand Prix on Saturday after a floodlit qualifying session at the glittering new Yas Marina circuit.
The outgoing world champion grabbed the 17th pole of his 52-race Formula One career to push Red Bull's German Sebastian Vettel into second place for the sport's first day-to-night race and season-ender.
Australian Mark Webber, winner of the last race in Brazil for Red Bull, starts third on the grid with Brazilian Rubens Barrichello alongside for new champions Brawn GP.
Jenson Button, who has already clinched the drivers' championship with a race to spare, qualified fifth for Brawn after failing to secure the first all-British front row since 1995.
Neither Ferrari made it to the final session of qualifying, with 2007 world champion Kimi Raikkonen pegged back in 11th place on the starting grid for his last race with the Italian team.
Italian stand-in Giancarlo Fisichella, with injured Brazilian Felipe Massa looking on, qualified last for what will also be his last Formula One appearance before he becomes Ferrari's test driver.
"I was only a tenth slower than Kimi up until the last sector, but then there was a lot of understeer and the car wouldn't work so unfortunately I didn't get through," the Roman told the BBC.
Renault's double world champion Fernando Alonso, who replaces Raikkonen at Ferrari, also had a demoralising afternoon and qualified 16th - equalling his worst Saturday performance of the season.
McLaren's Heikki Kovalainen, who had been quickest in Friday free practice, was 13th after suffering a gearbox problem that will demote him five places if the team have to change it.