Lewis Hamilton took pole position for the Austrian Grand Prix ahead of Mercedes AMG PETRONAS team-mate Nico Rosberg in a dramatic qualifying session at the Red Bull Ring that ended with both drivers spinning off the track.
Hamilton set a best time of 1m08.455s during the final part of qualifying, but then spun at turn one whilst trying to better his time. Rosberg on the other hand had set a time of 1m08.655s but made his own mistake at the final corner, ending up beached in the gravel trap.
Despite their respective incidents, both Mercedes drivers had done enough to lock out the front row of the grid, with Saturday morning’s free practice pace setter Sebastian Vettel unable to do any better than third on the grid in his Scuderia Ferrari, 0.355s down on Hamilton.
Joining Vettel on the second row is the leading Williams Martini Racing entry of Brazilian Felipe Massa, but he was almost four-tenths of a second slower than the German.
Part of last weekend’s 24 hours of Le Mans winning trio Nico Hulkenberg had a superb qualifying session in Austria, taking fifth place on the grid for Sahara Force India, getting in between the two Williams drivers, beating Valtteri Bottas by just 0.041s.
Max Verstappen was seventh for Scuderia Toro Rosso, just ahead of Daniil Kvyat of Infiniti Red Bull Racing, but the young Russian driver will take a ten-place grid penalty after changing to his fifth Renault power unit of the season in Austria.
Felipe Nasr made it through to the final part of qualifying for the Sauber F1 Team and took ninth, which will become eighth after Kvyat’s penalty, while Romain Grosjean made it through to Q3 for the Lotus F1 Team but did not set a time so will start ninth.
Pastor Maldonado will join his team-mate on the fifth row of the grid after just missing out on making it through to Q3, while Sauber’s Marcus Ericsson and Toro Rosso’s Carlos Sainz Jr will share row six.
Daniel Ricciardo was a very disappointing fourteenth quickest for Red Bull, and will also drop further positions once his own grid penalty is applied for an engine change.
Fernando Alonso surprised many by making it through into Q2, with the McLaren-Honda driver ending up fifteenth fastest, although he will drop to the back once his twenty-five-place grid penalty is applied for a dual engine and gearbox change. He will be forced to take a drive-through penalty in the opening three laps of the race as well.
Q1 had started with the track wet enough for intermediate tyres, and it left drivers fighting for track position and lap time when it was clear the slick Pirelli tyres were the ones to have.
Force India driver Sergio Perez just missed out on Q2 by just 0.014s to Alonso, while Jenson Button, another McLaren driver with a twenty-five place grid penalty hanging over him for an engine change, was seventeenth.
Kimi Raikkonen was the biggest casualty of Q1 however, with the Ferrari driver baffled by the lack of pace when it mattered, ending up 0.359s away from the Q2 cut-off point.
Both Manor F1 Team drivers were again at the back, with Roberto Merhi ahead of Will Stevens by 1.297s. Stevens had a spin early in the session when it was still damp, but was able to extract himself from the gravel trap and return to the pits.
The penalties for the Red Bull and McLaren drivers should see Kvyat and Ricciardo line-up on row nine behind the two Manor drivers, with Alonso and Button sharing the back row of the grid.
Red Bull Ring Qualifying Result
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