Nico Rosberg raced unchallenged to his fifth pole position of this season while Lewis Hamilton crashed out when his brakes failed at the Hockenheimring.
Second quickest at the time in Q1, Hamilton lost control of his W05 at pace.
His front left locked up and he went into a high-speed spin before smacking into the barriers at Sachskurve.
"Yeah, I'm okay," he said sounding shaken. "Something about the brakes."
Although his time put him through in Q2, he was unable to take to the track and qualified in 16th place. He will, however, start P15 in light of Esteban Gutierrez's penalty.
Hamilton's crash meant Rosberg stormed unchallenged to his fifth pole position of this season.
The German claimed provisional pole position with a 1:16.540, half a second up on his nearest rival, Valtteri Bottas, after the first run in Q3.
Venturing back out for a second chance, Rosberg failed to improve his time but that didn't matter as, while those behind him did improve, they couldn't get close enough to challenge.
Bottas finished second, his second front row grid slot, 0.219s down while Felipe Massa was third, a further three tenths off the pace.
Kevin Magnussen found a late burst to jump to fourth, matching his previous best from Australia.
Daniel Ricciardo was fifth ahead of Sebastian Vettel, Fernando Alonso and Daniil Kvyat.
The two Force India drivers completed the top ten with Nico Hulkenberg ahead of Sergio Perez.
Neither Jenson Button nor Kimi Raikkonen made it into Q2, finishing 11th and 12th.
Caterham's Marcus Ericsson did not take part in qualifying as a hydraulic problem in FP3 left his team without enough time to repair the CT05.
01 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:16.540
02 Valtteri Bottas Williams 1:16.759 +0.219
03 Felipe Massa Williams 1:17.078 +0.538
04 Kevin Magnussen McLaren 1:17.214 +0.674
05 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull 1:17.273 +0.733
06 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull 1:17.577 +1.037
07 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1:17.649 +1.109
08 Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso 1:17.965 +1.425
09 Nico Hulkenberg Force India 1:18.014 +1.474
10 Sergio Perez Force India 1:18.035 +1.495
11 Jenson Button McLaren 1:18.193
12 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 1:18.273
13 Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso 1:18.285
14 Esteban Gutierrez Sauber 1:18.787
15 Romain Grosjean Lotus 1:18.983
16 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes No time
17 Adrian Sutil Sauber 1:19.142
18 Jules Bianchi Marussia 1:19.676
19 Pastor Maldonado Lotus 1:20.195
20 Kamui Kobayashi Caterham 1:20.408
21 Max Chilton Marussia 1:20.489
22 Marcus Ericsson Caterham No time