Lewis Hamilton set a new pole position record for a British driver when he claimed the coveted grid slot for the Chinese GP.
Despite earlier predictions that the rain would abate after FP3, it was still coming down at the start of qualifying with the track conditions worse than they were in the morning.
The conditions, though, did little to deter Hamilton who set the pace in the first and second segments.
And in Q3 when it really mattered, he posted a 1:54.348 to jump six-tenths clear of the chasing field, which at the time was led by Sebastian Vettel.
Not content with that, the British driver put on a fresh set of intermediate tyres and shaved 0.488s off his previous best to lower the benchmark to a 1:53.860.
Hamilton's pole moves him ahead of Jim Clark in the all-time qualifying stats to fourth overall, on 34 career poles.
Daniel Ricciardo put up the closest challenge, finishing in second place, 0.595s down while Vettel had to settle for third behind his team-mate.
Nico Rosberg, probably the most likely to take the fight to Hamilton, made a mistake on his penultimate lap and then spun on his final one to finish down in fourth place.
Fernando Alonso was best of the non-Mercedes/Red Bull battle ahead of his former team-mate Felipe Massa.
Valtteri Bottas, Nico Hulkenberg, Jean-Eric Vergne and Romain Grosjean completed the top ten with the latter Lotus' first top-ten of this season.
The big shocks of qualifying was that Kimi Raikkonen and Jenson Button both failed to make it into Q3 in the rain.
With the rain coming down a bit harder at the end of Q2, Raikkonen missed out qualifying in 11th place with Ferrari later revealing that there was a problem with his downshift.
Button, complaining of a lack of front tyre grip, finished in 12th place. It was a double disappointment for McLaren as Kevin Magnusse was P15.
Meanwhile, Pastor Maldonado did not set a time at all in qualifying as the Lotus driver had an issue with his Renault engine which meant he did not contest the afternoon session.
01 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:53.860
02 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull 1:54.455 +0.595
03 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull 1:54.960 +1.100
04 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:55.143 +1.283
05 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1:55.637 +1.777
06 Felipe Massa Williams 1:56.147 +2.287
07 Valtteri Bottas Williams 1:56.282 +2.422
08 Nico Hulkenberg Force India 1:56.366 +2.506
09 Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso 1:56.773 +2.913
10 Romain Grosjean Lotus 1:57.07 +3.219
11 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 1:56.860
12 Jenson Button McLaren 1:56.963
13 Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso 1:57.289
14 Adrian Sutil Sauber 1:57.393
15 Kevin Magnussen McLaren 1:57.675
16 Sergio Perez Force India 1:58.264
17 Esteban Gutierrez Sauber 1:58.988
18 Kamui Kobayashi Caterham 1:59.260
19 Jules Bianchi Marussia 1:59.326
20 Marcus Ericsson Caterham 2:00.646
21 Max Chilton Marussia 2:00.865
22 Pastor Maldonado Lotus No time