Max Verstappen usurped a spirited Mercedes charge to take pole position for the Mexico City Grand Prix.
The Dutchman set a benchmark of a one minute 17.775secs, three-tenths faster than George Russell.
The Mercedes driver was on course to challenge for pole, only for an error in the final sector taking away his chance.
Team-mate Lewis Hamilton will start third, with both drivers showing a much-improved performance at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez.
The final part of qualifying was set up to be spectacular when the top four in Q2 were separated by only 0.014secs.
Verstappen had set the initial benchmark, a tenth up on Russell's best time with Hamilton just behind.
But the seven-time champion saw his attempt deleted for abusing track limits, whilst he reported drivability issues on his way back to the garage.
World champion Verstappen improved on his lap time for his final run whilst Hamilton recovered to take third, but Russell was left fuming with himself after running wide at turn 12, taking away a grandstand finish.
But Verstappen will be hurt by the omen that no polesitter has won here in the previous four attempts.
Red Bull team-mate Sergio Perez was cheered at every corner by his home crowd and will start fourth.
Carlos Sainz was the lead Ferrari on a poor day for the Scuderia, the struggles for the Italian team underlined by Valtteri Bottas outqualifying Charles Leclerc for sixth.
The Alfa Romeo driver was fourth in Q1 and fifth in Q2, underlining his scintillating speed and putting to use the upgrades added to the car in Austin last week.
Lando Norris crucially headed Fernando Alonso and Esteban Ocon as McLaren continues its fight with Alpine for fourth in the constructors' championship.
Ricciardo improved but still faces Q3 agony
Daniel Ricciardo put the difficulties of the US Grand Prix behind him to escape from Q1, and an improved performance was almost good enough for a top-10 berth.
But the Australian was unable to improve on his final lap and ended up missing out on Q3 by just 0.053s.
Zhou Guanyu couldn't match his more experienced team-mate by finishing 12th fastest for Alfa Romeo, ahead of Yuki Tsunoda, who out-qualified AlphaTauri colleague Pierre Gasly.
The Frenchman was unhappy at a "lack of grip", despite completing what he believed to be a clean lap.
Kevin Magnussen ended Q2 slowest and will take a five-place grid penalty for the ICE change made during Friday practice.
Schumacher pays price for corner cut
Mick Schumacher still finds himself fighting for his F1 career with Haas but recent form has no doubt helped his cause.
The German had set a lap time fast enough to slot into the top 10 in Q1 but that attempt was stripped for cutting the corner at turn two.
His final lap was an improvement but not quick enough to get the better of team-mate Magnussen, leaving Schumacher 16th.
Sebastian Vettel had struggled for pace all day in his Aston Martin, and after setting an identical lap time to his compatriot and his exasperation was clear on team radio: "I can't believe it man, it is so slow."
Team-mate Lance Stroll finished 18th fastest on his birthday, his present a three-place grid drop following his crash with Alonso last weekend.
Alex Albon had finished in the top 10 in FP3 and was on a stunning lap before a snap of oversteer at turn seven derailed his qualifying, finishing 19th ahead of Williams team-mate Nicholas Latifi.