F1: Rosberg puts Mercedes on pole in China but engine problems force Hamilton to start from back

(From left to right) Red Bull driver Daniel Ricciardo, Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg and Ferrari driver Kimi Raikkonen after the qualifying session for the Chinese Grand Prix.
(From left to right) Red Bull driver Daniel Ricciardo, Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg and Ferrari driver Kimi Raikkonen after the qualifying session for the Chinese Grand Prix. PHOTO: REUTERS

SHANGHAI (Reuters, AFP) - Germany's Nico Rosberg beat Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo to take pole position for Mercedes in qualifying on Saturday for the Chinese Grand Prix.

Rosberg, the winner of the first two races of the Formula One season, clocked a best lap of 1min 35.402sec, over half a second quicker than the Australian.

Finn Kimi Raikkonen was third for Ferrari, while team -mate and four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel will start fourth for Sunday's race.

Two-time defending world champion Lewis Hamilton, already carrying a five-place grid penalty for a change of gear box, will start from the back of the grid after failing to set a time in qualifying owing to engine problems with his Mercedes.

The Briton reported a problem with his power unit before qualifying was halted just three minutes in, after Pascal Wehrlein's Manor crashed into a wall.

Hamilton has won a record four times in Shanghai including the last two years but his hopes of preventing fierce rival Rosberg extending his championship lead from 17 points now look forlorn.

"I'm sure the guys are as gutted as I am," he told Sky News. "We've got to try and figure out the issue and make sure it never happens again.

"You can overtake here," he added. "The tyres won't last as well. I'll give it everything I've got."