Charles Leclerc came into qualifying as red hot favourite to take pole position for this weekend's Spanish Grand Prix, but a rare error for the Ferrari driver in the final round of qualifying almost put paid to those hopes.
Leclerc had been quickest in all three practice sessions on Friday and Saturday and it was no surprise to see him leading at the end of Q1 albeit by just 0.031s from his team mate Carlos Sainz.
He was content to make only one run in Q2 with his focus firmly set on delivering pole position in Q3. But the prize threatened to slip out of his fingers in the final top ten pole shoot-out round, when he overcooked it going into turn 15 and spun.
Fortunately he was able to recover quickly and headed back to pit lane, and was first out on track when it was time for the second runs - which in Leclerc's case was an all-or nothing effort.
A mighty effort saw him post a time of 1:18.750s which was over three tenths quicker than Max Verstappen's earlier best effort. The Red Bull driver's effort to respond was thwarted by a DRS issue on the RB18, leaving Leclerc on pole.
"It was a very, very difficult session," Leclerc told the media in parc ferme after the end of the session. "Especially in Q3 because I did a mistake in the first run of Q3
"Then obviously I only had one lap - but it went extremely well," he added. "I had a bit of moments on my lap, but at the end I made it stick and I am very, very happy with pole
"It was a very good lap and the car was amazing too, so we very happy," he said, while admitting that tomorrow's race would be a very different challenge.
"I am in a strong position to start the race," he acknowledged. "But we've been struggling with tyres in the last few races compared to Red Bull.
"Max is just behind and if we don't manage those tyres well we will lose that," he continued. "We need to get on top of it and do a good job tomorrow with tyre management."
After an overnight chassis change for a fuel issue, Sainz wasn't able to take advantage of Verstappen's late power issues.
However he still claimed third place on the grid for Sunday's race, putting him alongside George Russell in a much-improved showing for Mercedes and keeping him firmly in the mix for tomorrow's race before his home fans.
"It's been a tough weekend so far," Sainz admitted. "The conditions haven't been the easiest with the heat and with the wind.
"It wasn't the ideal qualifying, because I couldn't set a good lap on the used tyre," he explained. "But today we managed to put in a decent lap, and that allows us to fight from there tomorrow.
"I think the key will be the start, the tyre management," he suggested. "See if we can get a good start and go from there. But it's a decent position to start.
"Everything is possible tomorrow," he continued. "We're definitely going to try our best to get ahead at the start and lead from there.
"Probably lacking a new set of tyres for tomorrow for the first stint, but I think anything can happen and we will try our best."