McLaren's Kimi Raikkonen dashed Michael Schumacher's hopes of pole position for Ferrari's home Italian Grand Prix on Saturday.
The Finn pipped the seven times champion by just 0.002 seconds.
Ferrari's Schumacher, in what will be his final European appearance if he announces on Sunday that he is retiring at the end of the season, lines up alongside on the front row with title rival Fernando Alonso in fifth.
BMW Sauber's Nick Heidfeld was third quickest and shares the second row with Ferrari's Brazilian Felipe Massa.
Alonso leads Schumacher by 12 points with four races remaining.
Qualifying could have gone far worse for Renault's championship leader, who suffered a rear right tyre failure during the final session and had to limp back to the pits with the clock ticking down.
Starting grid for Sunday's GP
1. Kimi Raikkonen (Finland) McLaren
2. Michael Schumacher (Germany) Ferrari
3. Nick Heidfeld (Germany) BMW Sauber
4. Felipe Massa (Brazil) Ferrari
5. Fernando Alonso (Spain) Renault
6. Jenson Button (Britain) Honda
7. Robert Kubica (Poland) BMW Sauber
8. Pedro de la Rosa (Spain) McLaren
10. Giancarlo Fisichella (Italy) Renault
11. Jarno Trulli (Italy) Toyota
12. Nico Rosberg (Germany) Williams - Cosworth
13. Ralf Schumacher (Germany) Toyota
14. David Coulthard (Britain) RedBull - Ferrari
15. Scott Speed (U.S.) Toro Rosso - Cosworth
16. Christian Klien (Austria) RedBull - Ferrari
17. Vitantonio Liuzzi (Italy) Toro Rosso - Cosworth
18. Christijan Albers (Netherlands) MF1 - Toyota
19. Mark Webber (Australia) Williams - Cosworth
20. Tiago Monteiro (Portugal) MF1 - Toyota
21. Takuma Sato (Japan) Super Aguri - Honda