Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel in third was the only man to get within a second of the Silver Arrows. He was followed in the times by Williams’ Valterri Bottas and rookie Carlos Sainz, who delighted his home crowd with fifth in the Toro Rosso.
Sainz's team mate Max Verstappen made it an excellent session for the Italian squad with seventh, ahead of Kimi Raikkonen in the second Ferrari, and the Red Bulls of Daniil Kvyat and Daniel Ricciardo, split by the Williams of Felipe Massa.
Only the two Mercedes drivers and Vettel in the Ferrari progressed into Q2 without having to use the quicker medium tyre. That second knockout phase bid farewell to the Lotus duo of Romain Grosjean and Pastor Maldonado, the re-liveried McLarens of Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button, and the second Sauber of Felipe Nasr.
Force India suffered badly, with both Nico Hulkenberg and Sergio Perez eliminated in Q1 along with the Sauber of Marcus Ericsson and the Marussias of Will Stevens and Roberto Merhi, who both safely made the 107 percent requirement.
It was Hamilton who headed the timesheets in Q1, edging Rosberg with 1m 26.382s to the German's 1m 26.490s, even though they both ran the hard tyre throughout. Raikkonen was next up - after his opening run on the hard rubber left him vulnerable, a switch to mediums yielded a 1m 26.637s.
Sainz starred with a run to fourth on the medium tyre, but his fellow Spaniards were much further back. Alonso just scraped into Q2 with 1m 27.941s, leaving Ericsson 16th for Sauber on 1m 28.112s ahead of Hulkenberg and Perez on 1m 28.365s and 1m 28.442s apiece. Stevens headed Marussia team mate Merhi, 1m 31.200s to 1m 32.038s.
It was Rosberg’s turn to head the times in Q2 with 1m25.166s as Hamilton had some traffic on his way to 1m 25.740s, but they were well ahead of the Ferraris, with Raikkonen third on 1m 26.016s and Vettel fifth on 1m 26.167s - the duo split by Massa’s Williams.
Kvyat was 10th on 1m 26.889s, which meant that while Lotus improved late on, they just failed to break into the final shootout. Grosjean recorded 1m 27.375s to Maldonado’s 1m 27.450s, as Alonso was left 13th on 1m 27.760s and Button 14th on 1m 27.854s. Nasr took his Sauber to 15th on 1m 28.005s.
Bottas set the Q3 ball rolling with 1m 25.880s but that was soon beaten by Hamilton with 1m 24.948s - who himself was then eclipsed by Rosberg's 1m 24.681s.
There was still time for Hamilton to respond, but when his second lap wasn't faster, the matter was settled in Rosberg's favour. Both his Q3 laps were good enough for pole.
Vettel and Raikkonen enjoyed differing fortunes: the German was third with 1m 25.458s, but the Finn was bumped down to seventh after clocking 1m 26.414s. Bottas claimed fourth with 1m 25.694s, while Sainz and Verstappen caused a sensation by booking fifth and sixth on 1m 26.136s and 1m 26.249s respectively.
Behind Raikkonen, Red Bull sandwiched Felipe Massa’s Williams. Kvyat managed 1m 26.629s for eighth, Massa 1m 26.757s for ninth and Daniel Ricciardo - out-qualified by his team mate for the first time this year - 1m 26.770s for 10th.
Thus the provisional grid will line up: Rosberg, Hamilton; Vettel, Bottas; Sainz, Verstappen; Raikkonen, Kvyat; Massa, Ricciardo; Grosjean, Maldonado; Alonso, Button; Nasr, Ericsson; Hulkenberg, Perez; Stevens, Merhi.
Watch Rosberg's pole position lap
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