(CNN) -- Mark Webber will start on pole position for Sunday's Monaco Grand Prix but it was seven-time champion Michael Schumacher who qualified fastest after a flying lap which evoked memories of his finest years.
The 43-year-old Schumacher brought a five-place grid penalty to Monte Carlo after his collision with Bruno Senna at the Spanish Grand Prix so will have to settle for sixth on the grid.
But the form he showed in driving his Mercedes to a time of one minute 14.301 seconds suggested he has lost none of his former pace if supplied with a competitive car.
To back that up, his teammate and fellow German Nico Rosberg will start on front row with Red Bull's Webber after producing the third best lap of the day.
But all eyes were on Schumacher, who drove a lap of celebration with one finger in the air in celebration.
"I'm grateful to all the trust Mercedes had in me and supported me. I'm able to give back a little bit in qualifying and hope I can give more back tomorrow," he told gathered reporters.
Australia's Webber also produced a brilliant lap to out qualify his teammate, two-time defending champion and championship leader Sebastian Vettel.
The German will start from a lowly ninth on the grid.
Webber sportingly accepted that it had been Schumacher who had claimed the spotlight, but he is well placed to repeat his 2010 win in on the classic street circuit.
"It is Michael's day," he told the official post-race press conference.
"That was a good lap from him. It was a tight session and lots of different people arrived at the back end of qualifying with different situations with tires.
"It was a pretty good lap and I'm happy with it. It's a very good position to be starting tomorrow."
Pastor Maldonado, who won the Spanish GP for Williams to become the fifth different winner this season in five races, qualified ninth fastest but was relegated 10 places.
Stewards took a dim view of the Venezuelan impeding Sergio Perez of Mexico during an earlier practice session Saturday.
Britain's Lewis Hamilton will go from third place on the grid but his McLaren teammate Jenson Button was only 12th best.
Frenchman Romain Grosjean of Lotus will start fourth ahead of the two Ferraris of two-time champion Spaniard Fernando Alonso and Brazilian Felipe Massa.
Finn Kimi Raikkonen, the 2007 world champion, was eighth for Lotus.