- Bahrain - Formula One
AFP - Italian veteran Jarno Trulli took pole position for Sunday's Bahrain Grand Prix when he delivered a scorching final lap in Saturday's closely-contested qualifying session at the Sakhir circuit.
Trulli, 34, topped the times ahead of his Toyota team-mate German Timo Glock recording a first-ever Toyota front row lockout for his first pole since Japan in in 2005.
The Toyota pair will start on the grid ahead of German Sebastian Vettel, winner of last Sunday's Chinese Grand Prix for Red Bull and championship-leading Briton Jenson Button of Brawn GP.
For Trulli, it was the fourth pole of his career.
Defending world champion Lewis Hamilton was fifth for McLaren Mercedes ahead of Brazilian Rubens Barrichello in the second Brawn, two-times champion Spaniard Fernando Alonso of Renault and Brazilian Felipe Massa, for Ferrari.
German Nico Rosberg was ninth for Williams and Finn Kimi Raikkonen 10th for Ferrari, a result that gives the team a chance of ending their worst start to a season since 1981.
Trulli was fastest after the early running in Q3, which had the 2009 rarity value of seeing both Ferraris and a McLaren hunting high grid positions for the race.
As always, everyone saved a set of new super-soft tyres for the final flying laps in the last two minutes.
On another bone dry and very hot day, the air temperature was 38 degrees Celsius and the track temperature was 51 degrees as qualifying began and the drama unfolded.
In the opening part of the session, the McLaren Mercedes were swiftly out and into their rhythm using the super-soft tyres while others - notably Brawn and Toyota -- were more cautious in their choice of rubber - a recipe that ensured last-minute tension as they pushed for a time in the closing minutes.
In the scorching conditions it was predicted that the drivers would lose two or even three kilos in weight during the session through dehydration.
The McLarens were overhauled by the two Toyotas as the session unfolded and then Vettel, the 21-year-old German who won last Sunday's maiden victory for Red Bull in China.
He ended up on top ahead of Trulli and Hamilton with Button fourth, the Brawns having squeezed through to Q2 in the closing minutes, but there was a surprise in seeing Vettel's team-mate Australian Mark Webber eliminated.
Webber was only 19th after being blocked by German Adrian Sutil of Force India in his final flying lap on approach to the final corner.
Webber said: "It was the worst corner to be nailed on and, for me, it is an absolute disaster. Protest? There's not much point for me is there? My race is screwed."
The men eliminated after Q1 were Sutil and his team-mate Italian veteran Giancarlo Fisichella, Webber and the two Toro Rosso drivers - Switzerland's Sebastien Buemi and Frenchman Sebastien Bourdais.
It was all very tight and competitive with the eight cars carrying a Kinetic Energy Recovery System (KERS) - the two Ferraris, McLarens, Renaults and BMWs - supposedly enjoying a slight advantage on a track of heavy braking.
In Q2, Vettel went out and cut his time by two-tenths for Red Bull - proof if needed that this is the car to beat - with Raikkonen jumping to second and Alonso third.
As twice before, it was enough for Vettel and no second run was needed as the rest chased his pace or scrambled to avoid the cut.
When the flag dropped, and the dust settled, Finn Heikki Kovalainen was left stranded in 11th, for McLaren, ahead of Japanese Kazuki Nakajima of Williams, the two BMW Saubers of Pole Robert Kubica and German Nick Heidfeld and Brazilian Nelson Piquet of Renault. They were all out of the top ten shoot-out.
Kovalainen said: "It's not much worse than being 10th or ninth - the car had no more to give."
Sutil went to apologise to Webber and said: "It was a big confusion. I thought he was just on an 'out-lap' so it is my fault. I am going to see him now, absolutely, to say sorry."