(CNN) -- Lewis Hamilton reserved a barnstorming final lap in qualifying for the Spanish Grand Prix to take his fourth pole of the season Saturday.
With his 35th career pole, Hamilton relegated Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg to second on the grid as he bids for his fourth straight win of the season.
Victory in Sunday's race would see Hamilton leapfrog Rosberg in the world title standings and would be his first at the Circuit of Catalunya.
But it proved another sorry afternoon for four-time defending champion Sebastian Vettel, who could not take part in the final part of qualifying after "losing drive" in his Red Bull, and was later penalized five grid places for a gearbox change.
It left him 15th on the grid, while teammate Daniel Ricciardo of Australia again impressed by claiming third spot, although over a second slower on his lap than Hamilton.
Finn Valtteri Bottas took a fine fourth for the revived Williams team, with Romain Grosjean giving Lotus a boost in fifth.
Ferrari's home hero Fernando Alonso had hoped to give his vast following in Barcelona something to cheer, but had to settle for seventh on the grid, being out qualified by his teammate Kimi Raikkonen.
Rosberg had raised hopes he could take pole ahead of Hamilton by being fastest in third practice and then in the opening two sessions of final qualifying.
But Hamilton showed his superiority despite doubts he would have to give second best, clocking a time of one minute 25.232 seconds.
"Nico (Rosberg) has been driving really well through P3 and qualifying, so I didn't know if I could get it. At the end, I had to eek out everything and more from the car," he said.
"To have the kind of performance we have, I have never really known that before. I'm overwhelmed, so happy."
Jenson Button for McLaren, Felipe Massa in the second Williams and Nico Hulkenberg for Sauber, who narrowly missed out on final qualifying, round out the top 10.