Nico Rosberg took pole position for the Hungarian Grand Prix while Mercedes team-mate and title rival Lewis Hamilton was set to start last after his car caught fire.
Hamilton, 14 points behind Rosberg after 10 races, has won in Hungary for the past two years and four times in total and had been the favourite for pole but those hopes went up in smoke with the session barely started.
Red Bull's quadruple world champion Sebastian Vettel qualified second, equalling his best grid placing of the season, in an all-German front row.
Finland's Valtteri Bottas starts third in a Williams with Australian Daniel Ricciardo fourth for Red Bull.
Explaining the circumstances of his latest misfortune, Hamilton said: "I bailed out of that timed lap I was doing and I was like 'I'm going to try and do the second lap'.
"Then something happened to my brakes. Something on the brake system failed so I had to engage some settings to try and correct it then the engines died.
"I then thought 'I am right next to the pit entry so I will roll back and get them to fix it' but then I looked in my mirrors and it was on fire.
"I was hoping to get it in neutral so I could push it back or something
"I was still trying to get it to the garage and maybe they could do something, but they said 'stop, stop, stop' so I tried to stop, but the brakes weren't working. The car kept running forward.
"The engine was working sometimes and sometimes not working, so it is all pretty bad.
"I think it's getting to the point beyond bad luck - it's something else. We just need to do better."
Hamilton finished positioned 21st on the timesheet. Extensive repairs and replacement of parts, however, will incur penalties which will lead to the Briton starting the race from the pit lane.
Last Sunday, Hamilton finished third from 20th on the grid, albeit on a circuit where overtaking is possible, unlike the Hunagroring.
All hope Hamilton had of closing the 14-point gap to team-mate Nico Rosberg at the top of the drivers' standings, and claiming a record -breaking fifth win at this track, appear to have gone.
Assessing his hopes for the race on this occasion, Hamilton added: "There's a lot going through my mind, but I just have to try to turn it into positives.
"I honestly don't know what I can do tomorrow. This is a track where you cannot overtake, so I think I will struggle to get in the top 10, or at least the top five.
"I will probably leave here more than 20 points behind Nico , but there are still races to go. I don't know what to say, I will try my best."
As last week, team-mate and title rival Rosberg claimed pole, his sixth of the year and fifth in the last six races.
That was despite a rain shower at the start of the top-10 shoot-out which led to him running wide at turn one shortly before McLaren's Kevin Magnussen slid heavily into a tyre barrier.
Rosberg will be joined on the front row by fellow German Sebastian Vettel in his Red Bull, followed by Williams' Valtteri Bottas.
Rosberg, though, again expressed his disappointment he will not be battling it out at the front with Hamilton during the race.
"That's a pity for the team. Not a good thing definitely, we need to keep on it because that's reliability," said Rosberg.
"I would prefer to be out there battling with Lewis, that would give me an adrenaline rush, so this takes away some of the adrenaline."
However, with storms forecast for Sunday, Rosberg added: "With the weather coming it's still all to play for."
McLaren's Jenson Button starts seventh, with Kimi Raikkonen 17th for Ferrari after they gambled and failed on his time in Q1, only to be ousted by Marussia's Jules Bianchi. Max Chilton starts 19th in his Marussia.