McLAREN driver Lewis Hamilton crushed his rivals in taking pole position for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix while a rule infraction sent championship leader Sebastian Vettel to the back of the grid.
In better news for Red Bull, Mark Webber qualified second fastest ahead of Vettel before the German's disqualification for not having sufficient fuel in his car for chemical analysis.
''That was a blow,'' said Vettel after the decision was taken some 4½ hours after qualifying ended.
Vettel, who has a 13-point lead over Ferrari's Fernando Alonso in the championship after winning the past four races, will start at the back of the grid for the first time in his career.
But he remained optimistic, saying ''everything'' was still possible on Sunday night.
''One of the best ski jumpers of all time once said: 'Every chance is an opportunity.' And as far as we are concerned, there are still plenty of chances tomorrow,'' he said.
In May, Hamilton was stripped of the Spanish GP pole and moved to the back of the grid when he didn't have enough fuel left to drive to the pits. The Briton managed to finish the race eighth.
The 27-year-old was simply untouchable on Saturday as he steered his car to the fastest time in all three parts of the session, finishing with an outstanding best of one minute and 40.630 seconds, three-tenths of a second clear of Webber.
Alonso endured a frustrating session - although the Spaniard was bumped up a place to sixth after Vettel's demotion.
Williams driver Pastor Maldonado will start the race third, ahead of Kimi Raikkonen of Lotus, McLaren's Jenson Button and Alonso.
Hamilton's pole was his sixth this year and the 25th of his career and gives him a perfect chance to end Vettel's run of four consecutive wins in pursuit of his goal of becoming F1's youngest triple world champion.
''I'm very excited. It's the first time for a long time to be ahead of the Red Bulls and starting at the front,'' Hamilton said before Vettel's disqualification.
''It's going to be tough in the race and I hope we are strong enough to fight them once again. The car's felt beautiful all weekend but we've not made any improvement since last weekend so I guess it just likes the track and hopefully it will continue to like it tomorrow.''
Webber said: ''We did the best we could, it was a pretty smooth qualifying and we're still a long way up the grid. There's a little bit of friendly fire going on, which we need to tidy up.''
Vettel, who takes part in his 99th grand prix on Sunday, had brake trouble in the last practice session and was not happy with his tyre temperatures in qualifying.
''I'm not entirely happy with the last part of qualifying. It was quite tricky for me. I should have been a little quicker.''
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