An already dramatic qualifying was red-flagged with just 2min.05s on the clock as Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton touched the barrier in turn 11 and damaged his right-front tyre, stopping his cat after the blind turn of turn 12.
Hamilton, who had struggled throughout the third and final session of qualifying at the Baku street circuit, touched the inside barrier as he tried to set a faster time than his ninth place time of 2min01.954s, almost 20 seconds off the pace of teammate Rosberg who had set a fastest time of 1min42.758s.
He said, during a post-session interview with Sky Sports F1 correspondent Craig Slater, that he had a rhythm and pace yesterday but ‘zero today’.
Prior to the incident, Hamilton had locked his brakes three times at turn 15 as he struggled to slow down his Mercedes W07 for the corner at the end of the straight between turns 14 and 15.
The session was restarted at 18:04 local time, but not before an unsafe release by Williams of Valteri Bottas in front of Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel in the pit lane.
As Hamilton touched the barrier on the inside of turn 11, Rosberg had scraped his right-front tyre along the barrier on the outside of turn 15 on his way to pole position – a corner that has proved difficult for Hamilton today and which claimed both Ricciardo and Perez in practice sessions on Friday.
Rosberg, having already set the fastest time, did not go out again, meaning that the Mercedes drivers were the only two drivers not competing in the final minutes of qualifying.
Rosberg will start on pole position in tomorrow’s race, with teammate starting down in 10th.
As the session finished, Rosberg sat on pole with Sergio Perez and Daniel Ricciardo behind him, with times of 1min43.515s and 1min43.966s respectively.
Perez, who crashed out at the end of the final practice session yesterday in an almost identical way to Ricciardo earlier in the day in turn 15, faces a five place grid penalty for changing his gearbox due to damage.
According to this report by Formula1.com, his gearbox had not completed six consecutive events as required by the official F1 regulations, meaning the Mexican will start in 7th for tomorrow’s race.
Ricciardo, who had crashed his Red Bull at turn 15 in the first practice session yesterday, perfected his line to set an identical lap time to former teammate Sebastian Vettel of 1min43.966s.
Because Ricciardo finished his lap first, he will start from second with the prancing red horse of Vettel starting behind him in third in tomorrow’s race.
Ricciardo’s younger teammate, Max Verstappen, had complained earlier in the session that Bottas had cut him up, as Bottas had used the toe on the young Dutchman down the long start-finish straight, and overtook Verstappen as he ran wide through turn one, taking the young Dutchman by surprise.