Lewis Hamilton conceded Mercedes "couldn't compete" with the pole-setting pace of F1 title rival Max Verstappen in qualifying for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
Mercedes and Hamilton were widely tipped ahead of qualifying to score pole position at the Yas Marina Circuit after appearing to hold a pace advantage throughout the early-weekend practice sessions.
After Verstappen topped Q2, albeit on the soft tyre compared to Hamilton's mediums, Red Bull made use of Sergio Perez to give the Dutchman a powerful tow in a move that ultimately sealed the session.
Although Hamilton will line up second and with the more durable tyre, the seven-time champion was forced to concede the Red Bull driver "fully deserved" pole.
"Max did a great lap today so we just couldn't compete with that time at the end there. But it was looking really strong throughout practice," said Hamilton.
"We just couldn't answer to that lap. It was a great lap from him but we're in a good position I would like to think with our tyres for tomorrow and I hope that we can have a good race.
"In the first lap I dropped a bit of time in turn five, but the last lap was nice and clean, I just couldn't go any quicker.
"I don't know if it's tyre prep or whatever it may be in terms of the out lap but nonetheless, I couldn't beat that time he did today. He fully deserved the pole.
"I'm still on the front row. We've got the difference between the tyres but I'm grateful I can see where he is and then we can try and navigate from there."
When interviewed after the session, Hamilton was greeted by jeers from the grandstands.
Brushing away the negativity, Hamilton added: "We've got a great crowd here regardless of the boos but I'm just grateful to see people here and healthy.