Lewis Hamilton was let down by his Mercedes yet again as Nico Rosberg romped to pole position at the Russian Grand Prix.
A tight tussle for top spot on the grid had looked likely as the championship-leading pair fought for first place in the first and second qualifying sessions.
But Hamilton did not emerge for Q3 due to a repeat of the electrical issues that forced him to start at the back of the grid last time out in China.
“It’s a second engine that I took at the last race and same failure as I had in the last race,” Hamilton explained to Sky Sports.
“I went back out in Q2 at the end to just get a feel of the lap and I lost the same power as I lost in China.
“There’s nothing I can do, but I never give up.”
Rosberg had broken the Sochi Autodrom track record with a flying lap of one minute and 35.337 seconds in Q2, but 1:35.417 was enough for pole in the top-10 shootout.
Valtteri Bottas, who finished third in Sochi two years ago, will start alongside Rosberg on the front row.
Sebastian Vettel (1:36.123) was second quickest, but will be hit with a five-place grid penalty over a changed gearbox, allowing team-mate Kimi Raikkonen to start third on the grid.
Felipe Massa, Daniel Ricciardo and Sergio Perez will each start ahead of Vettel, with home favourite Daniil Kvyat and Max Verstappen rounding off the top nine.
Hamilton could still start 10th if his engine does not need to be entirely replaced, but the world champion’s hopes of stunting Rosberg’s rapid start to the year have taken a big hit regardless.
1. Nico Rosberg (Mercedes) 1:35.417
2. Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari) 1:36.123
3. Valtteri Bottas (Williams) 1:36.536
4. Kimi Rakkonen (Ferrari) 1:36.663
5. Felipe Massa (Williams) 1:37.016
6. Daniel Ricciardo (Red Bull) 1:37.125
7. Sergio Perez (Force India) 1:37.212
8. Daniil Kvyat (Red Bull) 1:37.459
9. Max Verstappen (Toro Rosso) 1:37.583
10. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes)