Lewis Hamilton admitted he had not expected his McLaren to have Red Bull-beating pace in Abu Dhabi after storming to pole position at Yas Marina.
Red Bull's run of three straight poles came to an end on Saturday when Hamilton followed up a strong practice performance to top all three qualifying segments at Abu Dhabi and take the top spot by nearly four tenths of a second.
As McLaren took its first pole since Singapore in September, Red Bull had to settle for second and third with Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel.
"I'm very excited," said Hamilton. "It's the first time for a long time to be ahead of the Red Bulls. Normally I see the tail of them at the start of the race.
"I know the race will be tough because they have great race pace. I hope we are strong enough to fight. The car has been beautiful all weekend."
Hamilton could only suggest that the McLaren might be naturally well-suited to Yas Marina, as he did not think it had taken any technical steps forward this weekend.
"I don't know why the car has worked so well this weekend, we haven't improved it much," he said. "Maybe it just suits us here."
He added: "We always modify small little things but it does very little. The car has felt great from the get go this weekend."
Hamilton was also surprised that his pole margin was as great as 0.348sec.
"Red Bull were slower than we expected but I was faster than we expected," he said. "I knew they would be very, very quick but never imagined I would be this far ahead of them. I thought we either a match or slightly slower than them."