Ferrari's Fernando Alonso powered to pole in a rain soaked Silverstone
Ferrari's Fernando Alonso took his first pole position for nearly two years as he beat Red Bull's Mark Webber at the British Grand Prix.
In a thrilling wet session, which was interrupted for an hour and a half for torrential rain, Alonso beat Webber by just 0.047 seconds, reports the BBC.
Mercedes driver Michael Schumacher was third with Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel fourth and Lewis Hamilton eighth.
Hamilton's team-mate Jenson Button will start down in 18th.
It was a tough session for the McLaren duo, who will have it all to do on Sunday as they bid to give the home fans a first British winner at Silverstone since 2008.
"It was difficult, it always is in qualifying in the wet," said Hamilton.
"We really struggled in Q3, the tyres wouldn't switch on."
Ferrari's Felipe Massa was fifth ahead of Lotus driver Kimi Raikkonen and Williams's Pastor Maldonado.
There was controversy aplenty as Alonso, the world championship leader, was given a lifeline by a decision to stop the second session with six minutes to go at a time when both Ferrari drivers were not in a position to get into the top 10 shoot-out.
And when the session did restart, Alonso only just made it through with his final lap, set when there were yellow caution flags at the penultimate corner.
The Spaniard may be penalised for not slowing down, but as he did not set his fastest time in that final sector it seems he did obey the rules and slow down.
He said: "I didn't set a green [fastest] sector [time] in that particular lap with the yellow [flags]. So I don't have any worries."
Once into the top 10, Alonso won a thrilling battle with Webber to take pole for the first time since the 2010 Singapore Grand Prix.
Veteran commentator Murray Walker, working as a pundit for the BBC, said: "People query whether Fernando Alonso is the best driver in F1 - I don't, and he has just proved it again."
Two-time world champion Alonso said: "No secret. Its tricky conditions for anyone. You have to be calm in some difficult moments.
"In Q2 we were on the red flag in positions 15 and 16 Felipe and me. We went though and then in Q3 [it was a] difficult choice between inter and full wet and then when we saw everyone on the inter we relax a little and put a lap together.
"It was not easy. To complete a lap with no huge mistakes is not easy in these conditions. [I'm] Happy to be on pole after nearly two years. In these conditions the qualifying is probably the least important of the year but obviously for visibility it is always better to be on pole."
Second-placed Mark Webber said: "It was a very tight session. You don't know how it's going, you just focus on yourself.
"In a session like this, it's a huge amount down to the driver to get comfortable in the car. It was nip and tuck with Fernando to get pole."