Fernando Alonso has revealed he "didn't understand" who was on pole position when he was told on team radio that George Russell had topped the session.
The Spaniard was often complimentary of Russell during the 24-year-old's three years at Williams where he earned the nickname 'Mr Saturday' given his battling performances in qualifying.
Although he has shifted this tag since moving to Mercedes, Russell showed he has not forgotten how to put on a stunning single-lap show to become the 105th different pole winner in F1 history.
“I just found out now because on the radio I didn’t understand who was on pole," said Alonso, speaking shortly after the qualifying session had ended. "I’m surprised for sure [but] happy for him.
“[It was] unexpected because Ferrari looked very strong and Max as well so Mercedes were struggling a little bit.
“We were thinking we could be in front of them, in fact we are in front of Lewis [Hamilton], so to see him in pole position, it has to be a great lap.
"I am looking forward to watching it.”
Alonso doing a rain dance
Alonso was sixth fastest in wet conditions during final practice and was one of the only drivers that appeared to have no problem in making the intermediate tyres work.
After also qualifying sixth, Alonso is hoping for more rain to fall on Sunday.
"I was the only one switching the intermediates on so I had a fantastic day wet and dry," beamed Alonso.
"I think tomorrow is going to be a long race, [with] some traffic in front of us that maybe we are a little bit faster than.
“There are some very fast cars behind us - [Max] Verstappen, [Sergio] Perez and Lewis, if he doesn’t pass us at the start - so it is going to be an interesting race because there are a couple of cars out of position.”
Additional reporting by Ian Parkes