Lewis Hamilton cruised to victory in the French Grand Prix on Sunday and took over at the top of the world championship standings.
The pole, in a time of one minute 30.029 seconds, was his third of the year and pushed his Formula One record to 75.
Finnish team mate Valtteri Bottas, who had gone top moments earlier, had to settle for second - just 0.118 of a second slower - as the Silver Arrows locked out the front row in style.
It was another disastrous outing for McLaren though, and after nearly a year in which both drivers failed to make it past Q1 (since Baku in 2017), that situation occurred once more.
Hamilton, a point behind Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel after seven races, complained about his car's handling over the radio in the first session but still put in a best time of one minute 32.231 seconds.
"Leading the field is where I want to be, so it's great to be back on pole".
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"This place is lovely, it's really stunning down here", Hamilton said of a circuit that last hosted a grand prix in 1990 and represents a new challenge for a man who has won everywhere else on the calendar. "I got a great response from the crowd and I'm delighted to be here for the first time", said Hamilton, who described his final session as "so-so".
"I think the auto is quick, but I wasn t able to be quick", he said.
The four-time world champion said he will try to do two things at once - prepare for the race and support England when they play Panama.
Alonso won the 24 Hours of Le Mans last weekend but failed to progress from Q1 and will start 16th, while Stoffel Vandoorne is back in 18th.
Mercedes' first pole position in three races coincides with a new engine update in France, but Hamilton believes it did not make a significant difference on its own.
Brendon Hartley will start the race from last place after Toro Rosso had to change his Honda engine on Friday.