Mercedes AMG driver Nico Rosberg won the first Formula One pole of his career and the first pole for Mercedes in 57 years when he finished with the fastest time at the Shanghai International Circuit.

In his 111th Grand Prix, the 26-year-old posted a time of one minute, 35.121 seconds around the 5.451 kilometer course to edge Lewis Hamilton by half a second.

The last Mercedes driver to win a pole before Rosberg was Juan Manuel Fangio in 1955.

"It went really well and this is a special feeling," said Rosberg. "Now I'm looking forward to the race."

Hamilton finished with the second-best time, but will start seventh on the grid due to a five-position penalty for changing the transmission. That's bad news for Hamilton fans as in his 17 career wins he's never come from further back than fourth on the starting grid.

"I'm very proud of him, we grew up racing together and we always dreamed of being in Formula One," said Hamilton of Rosberg's pole victory.

The penalty to Hamilton elevates Michael Schumacher to the front row for the 116th time in his illustrious career. Schumacher finished third best with a time of 1:35.691.

Kamui Kobayashi in a Sauber Ferrari and Kimi Raikkonen in his Lotus will make up row two.

The series points leader, Ferrari's Fernando Alonso, will start ninth on the grid. Alonso won the last time out, in Malaysia, and heads into the season's third race with a five-point lead on Hamilton and 10 points on Jenson Button who will start the race from the third row.

Meanwhile, the man who dominated the pole position like no one else with 15 poles last season, Sebastian Vettel, couldn't make it out of the second round of qualifying. The last time that happened was in 2009 at the Brazilian Grand Prix. Vettel will start from the 11th spot.

Sunday's 56-lap race is scheduled to start at 3 a.m. (ET).