Lewis Hamilton's hold on the F1 title has suffered a fresh blow after his Mercedes AMG Petronas car was hit by an engine failure in Sochi. The 31-year-old world champion will start the Russian Grand Prix from tenth on the grid and is at risk of falling even further behind teammate Nico Rosberg in the standings after the German qualified on pole.
Hamilton, who set the pace in Practice Two and Practice Three, saw his car suffer a new malfunction at the end of Q2, meaning he was not able to take part in Saturday's qualifying shoot-out.
"I went out at the end of Q2 to get a feel and I lost the same power as I lost in China," Hamilton explained to Sky F1 following the incident. "There's nothing I can do. I never give up."
The incident is just the latest in a series of problems that have undermined Hamilton's title defence. The Brit Hamilton was hit off the line in Australia and Bahrain, while he also had to start last in China two weeks ago after his car suffered an engineering problem in qualifying.
Hamilton's troubles allowed Rosberg - who leads the championship standings by 36 points - to secure another pole position, with Sebastian Vettel and Valtteri Bottas in second and third places respectively.
"I was confident the lap was good enough because in Q2 Ferrari were far away and Lewis did not participate," Rosberg said after qualifying, according to the BBC. "I was sure enough, but you never know. I was glad when Seb passed the line that it was good enough."