Nico Rosberg secured a rather anti-climactic pole position with a 1:35.417 in today’s qualifying session for the Russian Grand Prix after Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton suffered an MGU-H failure right before the start of Q3.

The Briton – who is also under investigation by the FIA Stewards for cutting Turn 2 (even though he aborted that lap) – will start tenth on the grid, assuming no penalties are applied for his corner-cutting or parts changes in his power unit. The component failure occurred on his slow-down lap at the end of Q2, meaning he took no part in Q3. The issue is understood to be the same he suffered in China two weeks ago.

That left Rosberg to cruise to his 24th career pole position – tying him with the records of Niki Lauda and Mika Häkkinen – and he was able to park his car in the pits with over three minutes of Q3 to go.

Sebastian Vettel qualified second-fastest for Ferrari, a mammoth 0.7 seconds off Rosberg’s time, but will start seventh due to a five-place grid penalty for an unscheduled gearbox change.

Second place on the grid will be inherited by Finland’s Valtteri Bottas, who qualified a surprising third-fastest for Williams, splitting the two Ferraris. Bottas’ compatriot Kimi Räikkönen qualified a disappointing fourth, half-a-second behind his teammate, but will start from third on the grid tomorrow.

The second Williams of Felipe Massa qualified fifth ahead of Red Bull Racing’s Daniel Ricciardo while Sergio Pérez continued a strong showing for Force India to qualify seventh and will start from sixth.

Local hero Daniil Kvyat couldn’t quite match the pace of his teammate and will line up eighth ahead of Max Verstappen in ninth. The Dutchman was able to find the pace and out-qualify Carlos Sainz in the sister Toro Rosso. Sainz was just edged out of Q3 in the last seconds of Q2 and will get a free choice of tyre sets on which to start Sunday’s race.

McLaren’s strong practice pace rather flattered to deceive in qualifying. Jenson Button (12th) and Fernando Alonso (14th) sandwiched the second Force India of Nico Hülkenberg, who continued his struggles for pace this weekend.

Conversely, Roman Grosjean and Esteban Gutiérrez managed to defy the Haas F1 Team’s poor practice pace and comfortably got into Q2. That’s where it ended, however, as both were the slowest in the second knockout phase.

Renault’s Kevin Magnussen and Jolyon Palmer locked out the ninth row of the grid, and despite their lack of pace, both praised the progress they had made in fine-tuning their cars’ set-ups for race conditions.

The last four spots were predictably claimed by the Sauber and Manor Racing teams. A new Sauber chassis for Felipe Nasr at least allowed the Brazilian to out-qualify both his teammate Marcus Ericsson – who was slowest of all – and the Manors of Pascal Wehrlein and Rio Haryanto. Wehrlein was finally able to get his weekend back on track to get ahead of his Indonesian teammate, albeit by barely six-hundredths of a second.

Q3 Qualifiers Team / Entry Result Gap
1. Nico Rosberg de Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 W07 Hybrid 1:35.417
2. Sebastian Vettel^ de Scuderia Ferrari SF16-H 1:36.123 + 0.706
3. Valtteri Bottas fi Williams Martini Racing Mercedes FW38 1:36.536 + 1.119
4. Kimi Räikkönen fi Scuderia Ferrari SF16-H 1:36.663 + 1.246
5. Felipe Massa br Williams Martini Racing Mercedes FW38 1:37.016 + 1.599
6. Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull Racing Tag Heuer RB12 1:37.128 + 1.711
7. Sergio Pérez Sahara Force India Mercedes VJM09 1:37.212 + 1.795
8. Daniil Kvyat ru Red Bull Racing Tag Heuer RB12 1:37.459 + 2.042
9. Max Verstappen nl Scuderia Toro Rosso Ferrari STR11 1:37.583 + 2.166
10. Lewis Hamilton Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 W07 Hybrid no time
Q2 Qualifiers Team / Entry Result Gap**
11. Carlos Sainz Jr es Scuderia Toro Rosso Ferrari STR11 1:37.652 + 2.315
12. Jenson Button McLaren-Honda MP4-31 1:37.701 + 2.364
13. Nico Hülkenberg de Sahara Force India Mercedes VJM09 1:37.771 + 2.434
14. Fernando Alonso es McLaren-Honda MP4-31 1:37.807 + 2.470
15. Romain Grosjean fr Haas F1 Ferrari VF-16 1:38.055 + 2.718
16. Esteban Gutiérrez Haas F1 Ferrari VF-16 1:38.115 + 2.778
Q1 Qualifiers Team / Entry Result Gap*
17. Kevin Magnussen dk Renault Sport F1 Team RS16 1:38.914 + 2.908
18. Jolyon Palmer Renault Sport F1 Team RS16 1:39.009 + 3.003
19. Felipe Nasr br Sauber F1 Team Ferrari C35 1:39.018 + 3.012
20. Pascal Wehrlein de Manor Racing Mercedes MRT5 1:39.399 + 3.393
21. Rio Haryanto id Manor Racing Mercedes MRT5 1:39.463 + 3.457
22. Marcus Ericsson Sauber F1 Team Ferrari C35 1:39.519 + 3.513

* Denotes gap to fastest Q1 time of 1:36.006 posted by Lewis Hamilton
** Denotes gap to fastest Q2 time of 1:35.337 posted by Nico Rosberg
^ Sebastian Vettel will incur a five-place grid penalty for an unscheduled gearbox change

Image via Mercedes AMG F1 Petronas

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Ahmad Shallouf

Contributing Writer at MotorsportM8