After a superb final lap in qualifying in Shanghai, Mercedes’ Nico Rosberg will start the 2016 Formula 1 Pirelli Chinese Grand Prix from pole position.
The world championship leader finished half a second up on Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo, who sprung a surprise to keep the Ferraris off the front row – Kimi Raikkonen was third, less than a tenth behind the Australian, with team mate Sebastian Vettel fourth.
However, team mate Lewis Hamilton ended up being at the bottom of the order as his Mercedes hobbled with a mechanical issue in its hybrid energy system.
Hamilton put his Red Bull onto the front row for the first time in 2016 with an astonishing final lap in dry conditions after the morning rain dried up.
He had complained of a down-on-power engine, and as Mercedes confirmed an Energy Recovery System (ERS) problem, he pulled into the pits without setting a time.
A five-place grid drop for an unscheduled gearbox change had seemed bad enough, but now the world champion will start the race from the back of the grid.
Rosberg also gambled on using soft rubber in Q2 to everyone else’s decision to set their lap times on super softs,
handing him an important strategy advantage heading into Sunday’s race.
Rather than being at the cockpit, Lewis Hamilton watched the qualifying with race engineer Pete Bonnington.