George Russell bemoaned what he described as a "terrible lap" after he qualified second for the Mexico City Grand Prix.
The Mercedes driver was fastest in Saturday's third practice but could not replicate that in qualifying as Max Verstappen claimed pole position.
World champion Verstappen set a time of one minute and 17.775 seconds, 0.304 seconds ahead of Russell.
Russell's team-mate Lewis Hamilton was third, 0.309 seconds off the pace, though he was more upbeat than a frustrated Russell.
"The team deserved more today," Russell said. "They've produced a really great car this weekend and it's testament for them for the work they've been doing for so long.
"I feel like it was our pole to have but it was just a terrible lap from my side. But it's great to be back on the front row.
"I'll be going for it at the start tomorrow for sure. Let's see what's possible."
Hamilton, seemingly looking at the bigger picture, said of his performance: "The first one [lap], which I think was quick enough for second maybe I don't know, but it wasn't quite good enough.
"The Red Bulls are naturally so fast. I think this is such an amazing showing and I'm really proud of my team.
"This is the best qualifying we've had all year, so it just shows that having perseverance and never giving up is the way forward. A big thanks to everyone here and back in the factory.
"I'm pretty happy with my position [on the grid] to be honest, it's a long way down to turn one."
Red Bull's Verstappen will have support from his team-mate in a prospective battle with Mercedes, Sergio Perez having qualified fourth.
"It's a very long run to Turn One, so we do need a good start. But I think we have a quick car and that's what is most important," said Verstappen.
"It's incredible the passion of all the fans here. Also, in the stadium, it's amazing to drive here. Checo will be there tomorrow - we have a great race car.
"I hope it will be quite a fun race with a lot of action. I think it will be close in the race. Normally [Mercedes] have very good race pace as well."
The Ferraris of Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc were a disappointing fifth and seventh respectively, sandwiched by Alfa Romeo's Valtteri Bottas.
1. Max Verstappen (Red Bull) 1:17.775
2. George Russell (Mercedes) +0.304
3. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) +0.309
4. Sergio Perez (Red Bull) +0.353
5. Carlos Sainz (Ferrari) +0.576
6. Valtteri Bottas (Alfa Romeo) +0.626
7. Charles Leclerc (Ferrari) +0.780
8. Lando Norris (McLaren) +0.946
9. Fernando Alonso (Alpine) +1.164
10. Esteban Ocon (Alpine) +1.235