Giancarlo Fisichella gave Force India its first Formula One pole during qualifying Saturday for the Belgian Grand Prix.
The 36-year-old Italian earned the Indian team its maiden pole with a lap of 1 minute, 46.308 seconds around the high-speed Spa-Francorchamps circuit. Entering its 30th race, Force India has yet to win a point by finishing among the top eight.
"It's unbelievable," Fisichella said. "I expected to be competitive but I didn't expect to be on pole."
Toyota driver Jarno Trulli will start second ahead of BMW Sauber's Nick Heidfeld following a qualifying session that produced many surprises.
Overall F1 leader Jenson Button will start a season's worst 14th after failing to reach the last qualifying session for the first time, while teammate Rubens Barrichello will start fourth on the grid. Red Bull driver Sebastian Vettel and teammate Mark Webber will attempt to take some points from Button's lead, but begin from eighth and ninth, respectively.
Trulli was as surprised as anyone considering Toyota had been struggling this season.
"It's a good question that none of us can answer," Trulli said about his car's performance. "We came here and straightaway we looked very strong."
The top three have combined to make 872 race starts, but only Heidfeld has yet to cross the finish line first, something the German hopes to change before BMW Sauber is pulls out of F1 at the end of the season.
"It's obviously very important for everybody in the team," Heidfeld said. "BMW wanted to pull out on a high. It's great that we can show we have good performance."
Teammate Robert Kubica starts fifth ahead of Ferrari driver Kimi Raikkonen _ a three-time winner in Belgium _ and Toyota's Timo Glock.
Button will just hope to finish in the points as he leads Barrichello by 18 with six races to go. Webber trails Button by 20.5 points and Vettel by 25. Brawn GP leads Red Bull by 27.5 points in the constructors' series.
In a season where the standings have been turned upside down by regulation changes, few would have predicted Fisichella take the pole in Belgium. His best grid position through 11 races this season was 13th and he was a 150-1 underdog to take top spot.
"It's a crazy season," Trulli said. "You see teams changing and being competitive from one race to another. It's hard to get a handle on it."
It was an unpredictable qualifying session in cool weather of 59 degrees Fahrenheit as Red Bull, Toyota, Force India, BMW Sauber and Ferrari all showed strong pace along the Ardennes hills.
Like Button, defending champion Lewis Hamilton of McLaren, who was coming off victory at Hungary and a second place at Valencia, and 2006 champion Fernando Alonso of Renault failed to get out of the second session and start 12th and 13th, respectively.
Fisichella denied his drive was aimed at persuading Ferrari to hire him to fill in for the injured Felipe Massa.
"I'm a Force India driver and I have a contract with them," the three-time winner said. "And there has been no contact with Ferrari."
Massa's replacement, Luca Badoer, starts last for the second straight race after finishing more than one second off the cutoff point for the first session.
The 38-year-old Italian had hoped to reach the second session but instead ended his day by spinning off and slamming into the wall at Les Combes to snap the axle on his rear left tire.
Badoer's seat is not assured following a 17th-place finish at the European GP, which was his record 49th race without a point.