Nico Rosberg claimed pole position Sunday’s Formula 1 race in Russia, but his cause was helped by more bad luck for teammate Lewis Hamilton.
The Mercedes drivers looked set to fill the front row of the grid after dominating practice and the early stages of qualifying.
However, a power unit failure ruled Hamilton out of Q3 to hand Rosberg a comfortable run to pole.
The German driver duly delivered, recording a time of 1:35.417 to finish 0.706 in front of Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel.
“I was quite confident that the lap was good enough out there, because in Q2 the Ferraris were quite far away and I knew Lewis wasn’t taking any further part in qualifying,” said Rosberg.
With Vettel due a five-place grid penalty after an unscheduled gearbox change, Williams’ Valtteri Bottas will join Rosberg at the front of the grid.
Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen, Williams’ Felipe Massa, Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo and Force India’s Sergio Perez round off the top six, with Russian driver Daniil Kyvat securing eighth place.
Hamilton has endured a difficult start to the season and is 36 points behind Rosberg after just three rounds.
He started the previous race in China from the back of the grid after his car broke down in qualifying.
“I went out at the end of Q2 to get a feel and I lost the same power as I lost in China,” Hamilton told Sky F1. “There’s nothing I can do. I never give up.”
The Mercedes team are unsure at this stage if Hamilton will be penalized for the repairs they will make on his car.
“If Lewis didn’t have bad luck he’d have no luck at all at the moment,” said Sky F1’s Martin Brundle.
Q1 saw the Renaults, Manors and Saubers eliminated, with P17 to P22 filled by Kevin Magnussen, Jolyon Palmer, Felipe Nasr, Pascal Wehrlein, Rio Haryanto and Marcus Ericsson.
Toro Rosso’s Carlos Sainz, McLaren’s Jenson Button, Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg, McLaren’s Fernando Alonso, and Haas drivers Romain Grosjean and Esteban Gutierrez exited qualifying in Q2.
- NICO ROSBERG MERCEDES 1:35.417
- SEBASTIAN VETTEL FERRARI 1:36.123
- VALTTERI BOTTAS WILLIAMS 1:36.536
- KIMI RƒIKK÷NEN FERRARI 1:36.663
- FELIPE MASSA WILLIAMS 1:37.016
- DANIEL RICCIARDO RED BULL 1:37.125
- SERGIO PEREZ FORCE INDIA 1:37.212
- DANIIL KVYAT RED BULL 1:37.459
- MAX VERSTAPPEN TORO ROSSO 1:37.583
- LEWIS HAMILTON MERCEDES