(AFP) - Championship leader Nico Rosberg took full advantage of his Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton's continuing ill-fortune on Saturday when he secured a comfortable pole position for Sunday's Russian Grand Prix.
The 30-year-old German, who leads this year's title race by 36 points after winning the opening three races in succession, clocked a fastest lap in 1 min 35.417 seconds to take the prime spot on the grid.
This left him over seven-tenths of a second clear of Sebastian Vettel of Ferrari after defending three-time world champion Hamilton had been hit by another engine failure during the Q2 part of the qualifying session.
Hamilton was unable to take part in Q3 and provisionally will line up in 10th place on the grid.
For Rosberg, it was a second successive pole in Sochi and the 24th of his career, ensuring he has the best possible chance to tighten his grip in the championship.
Vettel is expected to start from seventh on the grid because he had a five-place grid penalty for a gearbox change on his Ferrari.
Finn Valtteri Bottas of Williams outpaced compatriot Kimi Raikkonen in the second Ferrari to qualify third - and start second alongside Rosberg.
Raikkonen was fourth ahead of Felipe Massa in the second Williams, Daniel Ricciardo of Red Bull, Sergio Perez of Force India and Daniil Kvyat who was eighth in the second Red Bull.
Dutch teenager Max Verstappen was ninth for Toro Rosso with Hamilton 10th.