Lewis Hamilton says it was a surprise not only to qualify on pole position for the Australian Grand Prix, but to also have a distinct margin over the Red Bull cars.
While the form book had been difficult to decipher heading into qualifying, Hamilton's fastest time was a resounding seven tenths of a second clear of Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel.
"I am as surprised as anyone – I had no idea that was going to happen," said Hamilton. "I thought Red Bull would perhaps pull a bit more time out, and that the Mercedes would have been a little bit quicker.
"We knew our car was good, but we just didn't know how it compared to others, so I'm a bit surprised that we were so quick today – although I'm probably more surprised to see Red Bull so far back.
"It was an intense session. My first lap felt special and I definitely knew it would be competitive – I was just hoping no one went quicker. When you get that lap and it just feels like it's flowing and you hit the sweet spot everywhere, it's like heaven, and it's why I love Formula 1."
Despite McLaren's margin in qualifying, Hamilton said tire management would be key to deciding Sunday's season-opener.
"There is still a long way to go tomorrow," he explained. "The difference between long runs and how people look after their tires will be key, and we just have to hope we are one of the best.
"Position in qualifying is very important, though, and I'm massively proud of the team, and proud that I was able to do the job today. We will have a good battle tomorrow, and it would be amazing to get our first [his and Jenson Button's] 1-2."