Daniel Ricciardo's nightmare began until the season seemed to add a new chapter after his engine blown up in the last practice of the China Grand Prix.
Ricciardo, who retired from last weekend's Bahrain Grand Prix with an electrical failure, faces a clockwise race to get the car to qualify.
When it clockwise fell down, the Red Bull car was on the blocks before it was finally released with just a few minutes left in the opening qualification session.
Ricciardo had an attempt to secure his place in the second qualifying session and managed to set a time spent him 14.
From there, the ball fought really rolling when Ricciardo fought into the last session before he ultimately qualified in sixth place, a place behind teammate champion Max Verstappen.
Lewis Hamilton's Formula One championship match sounded another dent in Shanghai, who qualified only fourth for the Chinese Grand Prix with Sebas Tian Vettel winning pole position.
Hamilton dominated Friday's practice, but Mercedes cars did not answer Ferrari on Saturday qualification. German Vettel led a front pipe lock in front of team mate Kimi Raikkonen for the second weekend.
Vettel, who already has a 17-point lead over Hamilton with victory at the two opening hours, saw Raikkonen challenge the Finn with a dramatic final step.
Hamilton's Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas runs third.
Mercedes has dominated recent years in China. It has been seven years since a silver car failed to stand on the front.
Hamilton fought for pace and ran during the morning exercise before qualifying for Bottas for the second time in so many races.
Hamilton was close to half a second down on Vettel, who will be the favorite to transform his pole into a third win and expand his championship.
"I was pleased with the whole lap," said Vettel, finishing only 0.087 seconds away from Raikkonen.
"The car was amazing and just getting better."
"I lost the back of the car on my first run so I was a little beaten, but I knew if I got a messy shot and get some magic, I could push it."
– with AAP