Max Verstappen took the first pole position of the season by heading a Red Bull one-two in qualifying for the Bahrain Grand Prix.
The two-time reigning champion set a lap time of a one minute, 29.708secs to finish a tenth faster than team-mate Sergio Perez.
Charles Leclerc was the closest challenger to the Red Bulls but opted to save a set of a soft tyres for the race on Sunday and not go against his rivals at the end of Q3.
Qualifying got off to a scrappy start with red flags triggered by debris from Leclerc's SF-23, which shed half of its front-right wheel brow.
READ MORE: Ferrari debris causes early Bahrain qualifying red flag
But come Q3 the Monégasque was the closest challenger to Verstappen. However, Leclerc failed to return to the track for a final run to leave Red Bull with one less car to worry about.
Fernando Alonso was the hero of free practice but Aston Martin's pace couldn't be taken up a notch for qualifying, the two-time champion finishing fifth behind Carlos Sainz and over six-tenths adrift.
George Russell won the battle at Mercedes to qualify sixth ahead of Lewis Hamilton with the courageous Lance Stroll in eighth on his return from two broken wrists.
Alpine's Esteban Ocon finished ninth ahead of Haas' returnee Nico Hulkenberg.
Norris just misses out
Despite McLaren's struggles, Lando Norris only just missed out on a top 10 position, finishing two-tenths down on Stroll's final Q2 effort.
The Alfa Romeos of Valtteri Bottas and Zhou Guanyu will start 12th and 13th having momentarily jumped into the top 10, being shuffled out by the last of those over the line.
Yuki Tsunoda will line up 14th for AlphaTauri whilst Alex Albon failed to complete a lap time with front wing damage picked up on his Williams FW45.
Alpine and McLaren misery
If F1's new regulations introduced last season aimed to close the pack up, Q1 highlighted the success with the entire field covered by 1.1s.
Logan Sargeant impressed on his F1 qualifying debut to narrowly miss out on advancing, finishing with the exact same time as Norris, who scraped through.
The American was only two-tenths slower than team-mate Albon who took plaudits for finishing the session ninth.
Kevin Magnussen couldn't follow team-mate Hulkenberg out of the first session and will start the race 17th.
READ MORE: Rookie lockout: Piastri, Sargeant and De Vries fail to progress out of Q1
McLaren rookie Oscar Piastri was three-tenths down on team-mate Norris and will start his first race from 18th, ahead of fellow full-season debutant Nyck de Vries, who had set the slowest time of the session.
But Pierre Gasly, who was only 17th fastest, lost his time for abusing track limits and will start last of the 20 drivers for Alpine.
Bahrain Grand Prix qualifying results
1. Max Verstappen [Red Bull] - 1:29.708
2. Sergio Perez [Red Bull] - +0.138secs
3. Charles Leclerc [Ferrari] - +0.446s
4. Carlos Sainz [Ferrari] - +0.446s
5. Fernando Alonso [Aston Martin] - +0.628s
6. George Russell [Mercedes] - +0.632s
7. Lewis Hamilton [Mercedes] - +0.676s
8. Lance Stroll [Aston Martin] - +1.128s
9. Esteban Ocon [Alpine] - +1.276s
10. Nico Hulkenberg [Haas] - No time
11. Lando Norris [McLaren] - 1:31.381
12. Valtteri Bottas [Alfa Romeo] - +0.062s
13. Zhou Guanyu [Alfa Romeo] - +0.092s
14. Yuki Tsunoda [AlphaTauri] - +1.129s
15. Alex Albon [Williams] - No time
16. Logan Sargeant [Williams] - 1:31.652
17. Kevin Magnussen [Haas] - +0.240s
18. Oscar Piastri [McLaren] - +0.449s
19. Nyck de Vries [AlphaTauri] - +0.469s
20. Pierre Gasly [Alpine] - +0.520s