Nico Rosberg of Germany earned the first pole position of his career on Saturday and gave Mercedes its first start from the front since 2010, with the fastest qualifying time for Sunday's Chinese Formula One Grand Prix.
World champion Sebastian Vettel of Germany was sensationally knocked out in the second round of qualifying as he managed only the 11th-fastest time. The Red Bull driver, who won back-to-back titles, was on pole for the last three races in Shanghai, finishing with two wins and one second place.
Behind Rosberg, McLaren's Lewis Hamilton finished second, but will have to start Sunday's race from seventh, due to a five-place grid penalty for changing his gearbox.
One of the biggest surpises was Rosberg's fellow German and teammate, Michael Schumacher, who qualified third, and gets to start next to Rosberg because of Hamilton's penalty - a great outcome for Mercedes, having secured the front row.
Sauber's Kamui Kobayashi took the fourth-fastest time, which will give him third place on the grid, alongside Lotus driver Kimi Raikkonen. Jenson Button, Hamilton's teammate in McLaren, came in sixth, while Red Bull's Mark Webber was seventh.
The final top 10 spots were snatched by Sauber's Sergio Perez, Fernando Alonso in Ferrari and Romain Grosjean in for Lotus.
sej/gb (DPA, AFP, Reuters)