Valtteri Bottas stunned even himself after qualifying alongside former Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton for the Bahrain Grand Prix.
In a major shock, an Alfa Romeo team that has struggled for form and performance over the years will start sixth on the grid at the hands of new team leader Bottas.
Alfa Romeo's rise coincides with Mercedes' fall under this new era of aerodynamic regulations as Hamilton lines up fifth, comfortably adrift of pacesetters Ferrari and
"P6 is a surprise for everyone," said Bottas, who reached Q3 for the 102nd consecutive occasion.
"It's really important for the team because Alfa has had a couple of tricky years and seeing a bit of light, it's important to see what is possible.
"I see no reason why we shouldn't be able to fight with any team except Red Bull and Ferrari, they seem to be a bit in their own league.
"The long runs have felt good balance-wise, no worse than short runs, but with the rest of the teams we can fight."
As to starting one place behind Hamilton, with whom he spent five years as his team-mate at Mercedes before being ousted by George Russell at the end of last season, smiling he added: "Side by side, it's pretty cool.
"I saw him and we were both smiling so it should be fun. At the end of last year, if someone had told me I'd be starting side by side with Lewis, I'd take it.
"But this is the beginning, it's the starting point of our journey now we need to make sure we're looking ahead, moving forward, rather than backwards which is exciting."