ROSBERG ON POLE: Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg (centre), on pole for the 2014 Hungarian GP, with Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel (left) and third placed Williams driver Valtteri Bottas. Image: AP / Petr David Josek.
BUDAPEST, Hungary - Formula 1 Drivers' championship leader Nico Rosberg took pole position for the 2014 Hungarian GP on Saturday while Mercedes team mate and title rival Lesis Hamlton saw his hopes go up in flames.
Hamilton, 14 points behind Rosberg after 10 races, won in Hungary for the past two years and four times in total and was the favourite for pole and the race after setting the pace in practice.
Instead, the Englishman will now start last - from the pits lane - because his car caught fire with the session barely started.
Red Bull's quadruple F1 champion Sebastian Vettel qualified second, equalling his best grid placing of the season, on an all-German front row.
Valtteri Bottas will start third for Williams with Daniel Ricciardo fourth for Red Bull on an overcast afternoon that saw light rain between the second and final phase of qualifying.
For the second race in a row Rosberg was left with mixed emotions - happy to be in the top slot with every chance of extending his overall lead - but saying also that he felt cheated of a battle with his team mate.
Rosberg said: "It's a pity for the team, not a goood thing... I would prefer to be out there battling Lewis. That would have been the maximum adrenalin rush."
STRING OF SETBACKS
Hamilton, winner of five races to Rosberg's four, has had a run of bad luck with two retirements to the German's sole blank and has endured a string of qualifying set-backs going back six races.
At Hockenheim he crashed out of qualifying at the same point when a front brake disc failed and had to start 20th. That triggered a thrilling charge through the field to third at the end but the slow and twisty Hungaroring is a far more difficult track on which to overtake.
"There's a lot going through my mind but I just have to try to turn it into positives until tomorrow," Hamilton, whose car will need a change of engine and gearbox and so earn a five-place grid penalty told the BBC.
Hamilton said: "I think it's getting to the point beyond bad luck - it's something else. We just need to do better."
While Hamilton's blaze - caused, it is suspected, by a fuel leak - was the main talking point there were other shocks in an eventful session that ended with Mercedes' 10th pole in 11 races.
Jules Bianchi, a Ferrari academy driver who races for struggling Marussia, qualified 16th and ahead of Ferrari's 2007 champion Kimi Raikkonen at one of the Finn's strongest circuits.
Ferrari had mistakenly assumed both its drivers were safely through the first phase and did not send them out for second runs - and then saw Bianchi pip Raikkonen when there was nothing they could do about it.
Raikkonen's double F1 champion team mate Fernando Alonso will start fifth with Felipe Massa, who was replaced by Raikkonen at the Italian team, alongside.
The final phase was halted for some eight minutes after Danish rookie Kevin Magnussen crashed his McLaren hard into a barrier on a surface made slippery by the sudden shower.
Venezuelan Pastor Maldonado, who has not scored a point so far this season, was the first out of qualifying after parkinghis Lotus.
2014 Hungarian GP qualifying
1 Nico Rosberg (Germany) Mercedes 1min22.715
2 Sebastian Vettel (Germany) RedBull 1min23.201
3 Valtteri Bottas (Finland) Williams 1min23.354
4 Daniel Ricciardo (Australia) Red Bull 1min23.391
5 Fernando Alonso (Spain) Ferrari 1min23.909
6 Felipe Massa (Brazil) Williams 1min24.223
7 Jenson Button (Britain) McLaren 1min24.294
8 Jean-Eric Vergne (France) Toro Rosso 1min24.720
9 Nico Huelkenberg (Germany) Force India 1min24.775
10 Kevin Magnussen (Denmark) McLaren
11 Daniil Kvyat (Russia) Toro Rosso 1min24.706
12 Adrian Sutil (Germany) Sauber 1min25.136
13 Sergio Perez (Mexico) Force India 1min25.211
14 Esteban Gutierrez (Mexico) Sauber 1min25.260
15 Romain Grosjean (France) Lotus 1min25.337
16 Jules Bianchi (France) Marussia 1min27.419
17 Kimi Raikkonen (Finland) Ferrari 1min26.792
18 Kamui Kobayashi (Japan) Caterham 1min27.139
19 Max Chilton (Britain) Marussia 1min27.819
20 Marcus Ericsson (Sweden) Caterham 1min28.643
21 Lewis Hamilton (Britain) Mercedes
22 Pastor Maldonado (Venezuela) Lotus
1-10: third and final qualifying
11-16: second qualifying
17-22: first qualifying
2014 Hungarian GP practice results: