Nico Rosberg displayed blistering pace on Saturday afternoon as he secured pole position by three-tenths ahead of his Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton.
Qualifying took place in trying circumstances as none of the drivers had spent much time on the track due to Friday’s diesal spillage and rain while Saturday’s running was curtailed by the red flag for Carlos Sainz’s crash.
That, however, did little to shake up the order.
Title protagonists Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg fought over the front row with Rosberg taking the early initiative with a 1:37.113 while Hamilton was 0.320s slower.
With Hamilton unable to improve on his second run after running wide off the track, Rosberg’s earlier time guaranteed him pole position. His second in as many races.
Valtteri Bottas was third for Williams, 0.799s down, while Sebastian Vettel qualified in fourth place.
Kimi Raikkonen had to settle for fifth after he too made a mistake at Turn 13 and will line up alongside Nico Hulkenberg on the grid.
Sergio Perez and Romain Grosjean will make up the fourth row ahead of Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo.
Only 19 drivers took part in qualifying as Sainz will remain in hospital overnight following his horrific FP3 crash. The Toro Rosso driver is “ok” and hopes he will get the go-ahead to race come Sunday.
1 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:37.113
2 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:37.433 +0.320
3 Valtteri Bottas Williams 1:37.912 0.799
4 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1:37.965 0.852
5 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 1:38.348 1.235
6 Nico Hulkenberg Force India 1:38.659 1.546
7 Sergio Perez Force India 1:38.691 1.578
8 Romain Grosjean Lotus 1:38.787 1.674
9 Max Verstappen Toro Rosso 1:38.924 1.811
10 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull 1:39.728 2.615
11 Daniil Kvyat Red Bull 1:39.214
12 Felipe Nasr Sauber 1:39.323
13 Jenson Button McLaren 1:39.763
14 Pastor Maldonado Lotus 1:39.811
15 Felipe Massa Williams 1:44.461
16 Fernando Alonso McLaren 1:40.144
17 Marcus Ericsson Sauber 1:40.660
18 Will Stevens Manor 1:43.693
19 Roberto Merhi Manor 1:43.804
20 Carlos Sainz Toro Rosso no time