Hamilton suffered a failure of the front-right brake disc during the initial session for today's German Grand Prix at Hockenheim.
On the approach to the left-handed loop inside the stadium complex, the failure immediately pitched Hamilton into a high-speed spin across a gravel trap, with his momentum halted by a 30g shunt into a tyre barrier. Winded, Hamilton was at least able to radio back to his team, pointing out: "I put my foot on the pedal and something failed."
Hamilton eventually clambered from his cockpit, raising his right hand to acknowledge he was OK before heading off to the medical centre to be checked over, as is routine procedure following such a crash.
The 29-year-old will now start 15th, moving up one place from his qualifying position of 16th due to Esteban Gutierrez serving a three-place grid penalty.
To rub salt into Hamilton's wounds, local hero Rosberg went on to claim his fourth pole from the last five grands prix, and ninth of his F1 career. Not for the first time this season Hamilton faces another exercise in damage limitation to ensure the current four-point gap between the pair does not widen excessively.
Reflecting on his accident, Hamilton said: "I'm in a little bit of pain, but that's what happens when you have a crash like that. Even if something is broken I will still be racing on Sunday. I think the team said I pulled something like 30g, but you never enter a corner thinking something will happen. Nico has now basically got another gift [with pole], but we will see what we can do."
It's the latest qualifying blow for a man renowned for his speed over one lap. In Canada, he made minor errors in the final run that allowed Rosberg to claim pole. A fortnight later, at the Austrian Grand Prix, Hamilton made mistakes on both of his fast laps in Q3, leaving him down in ninth.
And then just two weeks ago in the British Grand Prix at Silverstone, Hamilton made an error of judgment in changeable conditions, opting to abort his final run.
Behind him, Rosberg sped by and went on to claim pole again, leaving Hamilton angry with himself, albeit with redemption coming his way on the Sunday with a victory to savour. The best Hamilton can hope for today, should Rosberg at least avoid another retirement as occurred at Silverstone, is a place on the podium.
Williams, however, appear strong, with Valtteri Bottas and Felipe Massa lining up second and third respectively, while the Red Bulls of Daniel Ricciardo and Sebastian Vettel in fifth and sixth will be no slouches either.
Hamilton also has two McLarens and two Ferraris ahead of him, leaving him with an uphill struggle to score strong points.
For Rosberg, this result continues his great week after getting married, watching Germany win the World Cup and signing a new long-term contract. He said: "To be at my home race and to get pole is fantastic."
Sparing a thought at least for Hamilton, he added: "I would have preferred an open fight with Lewis, so I'm a little bit less happy he didn't have a shot at it at the end. We still have along way to go, though, as we have the race ahead."
Jenson Button could only manage 11th in his McLaren, seven places behind team-mate Kevin Magnussen who equalled his best grid slot of his rookie season with fourth. Marussia's Max Chilton starts 21st.