DTM title chasers Paul di Resta and Gary Paffett will share the front row in Shanghai after a chaotic qualifying session, while championship leader Bruno Spengler crashed and will start 17th.
Di Resta earned pole with his time from Q3, after Jamie Green crashed at Turn 1 on his Q4 flying lap, which brought out the red flags.
Officials then decided to use the Q3 times to set the order for the top four, which means that Paffett will join di Resta on the all-Mercedes front row.
Only three drivers were set to take part in Q4 anyway, as reigning champion Timo Scheider destroyed his Audi in the dying moments of Q3 by crashing at the final corner.
Scheider, who was fourth-fastest, emerged from the wreckage unscathed. Behind him, Martin Tomczyk did an incredible job to get on the brakes and somehow avoid his crashing team-mate.
While there was drama throughout the session with all four segments featuring red flags - the most important of all the crashes was that of Spengler.
The Canadian appeared to be back on the pace in Q1 following his accident which cost him some crucial track time in free practice. He was running fifth with four minutes to go, when he ran wide at Turn 2 and hit the wall.
The Mercedes driver made it back to the pits as the session was red-flagged, and his mechanics started frantically trying to repair the smashed front end of his C-class as all drivers were allowed to progress to Q2.
Spengler then thought his day was done and got out of his car when Q2 was also red-flagged after Darryl O'Young crashed at Turn 6.
But race officials then confirmed that all drivers would be allowed to take part in Q3 as well, and Spengler eventually took to the track with just four minutes remaining.
His early laps were tentative, and he started what would have been his first proper flying lap with 11 seconds on the clock. His first sector was solid, but the red flags then came out for Scheider's crash.
Of those to miss the cut for Q4, Markus Winkelhock was the fastest, meaning he will start fifth on the grid for Rosberg Audi.
Next up was David Coulthard (Mucke Mercedes), who will finish his first DTM season with his best grid position of the year in sixth.
The top 10 was completed by Abt Sportsline-run Audis, with the 2008 car of Miguel Molina heading the '09 machines of Tomczyk, Mattias Ekstrom and Oliver Jarvis.
Pos Driver Car Time Gap 1. Paul di Resta Mercedes 58.937s 2. Gary Paffett Mercedes 59.045s + 0.108s 3. Jamie Green Mercedes 59.218s + 0.281s 4. Timo Scheider Audi 59.277s + 0.340s 5. Markus Winkelhock Audi 59.301s + 0.364s 6. David Coulthard Mercedes 59.322s + 0.385s 7. Miguel Molina Audi 59.431s + 0.494s 8. Martin Tomczyk Audi 59.483s + 0.546s 9. Mattias Ekstrom Audi 59.522s + 0.585s 10. Oliver Jarvis Audi 59.573s + 0.636s 11. Ralf Schumacher Mercedes 59.678s + 0.741s 12. Susie Stoddart Mercedes 59.750s + 0.813s 13. Mike Rockenfeller Audi 59.763s + 0.826s 14. Katherine Legge Audi 1m00.084s + 1.147s 15. Maro Engel Mercedes 1m00.114s + 1.177s 16. Cong Fu Cheng Mercedes 1m00.381s + 1.444s 17. Bruno Spengler Mercedes 1m01.010s + 2.073s 18. Darryl O'Young Audi