Felipe Massa claimed his first pole position in six years at the Red Bull Ring, as team-mate Valtteri Bottas’ second place earned Williams its first front-row lockout since 2003.
Mercedes’ qualifying, meanwhile, unravelled when Lewis Hamilton’s snapped out of control on the run up to turn two, sending the Briton into a spin. Having made a mistake on his opening run, which led to his lap being ruled out for exceeding the track limits, Hamilton failed to set a time in Q3 and will start tenth. Worse for Mercedes was that Hamilton’s final lap problem brought out the yellow flags, which meant Rosberg had to back off from his final flyer. The title leader will start third.
Q1 followed a predictable path, with the bottom four positions split between Marussia and Caterham, with Jules Bianchi and Kamui Kobayashi ahead of Max Chilton and Marcus Ericsson.
Sebastian Vettel’s banker time on soft tyres left him close to the drop zone, in 15th position, but the champion was never in any real danger, at least in this session. He eased through to Q2 two tenths of a second ahead of Pastor Maldonado. The Lotus driver was lucky to make it into the second phase, however, as Adrian Sutil’s last gasp lap came up short by just four thousandths of a second. Sutil’s time was, however, good enough to drop Sauber team-mate Esteban Gutierrez to 18th.
Q2 was altogether more unpredictable and after the first runs both Kimi Raikkonen in 14th place and Sebastian Vettel in 12th found themselves in need to improvements if there were to make the top-10 shoot-out. But while Raikkonen found the time required, claiming tenth place in Q2 with a time of 1:09.657, Vettel was less fortunate. The champion ended up with a final lap of 1:09.801 to secure 13th place behind Jenson Button and 11th-placed Sergio Perez, who will have to take a five-place penalty in the race after the sanction imposed following his accident with Felipe Massa at the Canadian Grand Prix was upheld following a review in Austria on Friday. Also ruled out of Q3 were Maldonado, Jean-Eric Vergne and Romain Grosjean.
Vettel’s team-mate Daniel Ricciardo once again delivered an excellent lap when the required, the Australian jumping to ninth from 11th to finish ahead of Raikkonen.
Ricciardo wasn’t the only ‘junior’ member of a team to outpace his team-mate. McLaren’s Kevin Magnussen finished Q2 in fifth place and Toro Rosso’s Daniil Kvyat went through in seventh place. Fastest were the Mercedes of Rosberg and Hamilton, ahead of the Williams cars of Bottas and Massa.
Q3 was similarly surprising. After the first runs it was Bottas in provisional pole position, the Finn’s time of 1:08.846 giving him 0.1s advantage over Rosberg, with Massa a further tenth back. Hamilton, though, was in trouble. Like many others during the course of the weekend so far, he was caught out by the high-speed turn eight and ran wide. With all four wheels off track his time was deleted for exceeding the track limits.
In the final runs it was Bottas who blinked, the Finn making a small error but one significant enough to give his pursuer a chance. And it was Massa who seized the opportunity, scoring his first pole since Brazil 2008 and Williams first front-of-grid starting position since the Spanish Grand Prix of 2012. Bottas had to settled for second, giving Williams its first front row lockout since Germany in 2003, when Juan Pablo Montoya and Ralf Schumacher occupied the top two spots.
Wth Rosberg third, fourth place went to Fernando Alonso. Ricciardo rescued Red Bull’s Saturday by lifting his RB10 to fifth spot. Magnussen will start in sixth place for McLaren, ahead of the impressive Kvyat.
Kimi will start ninth ahead of the unfortunate Hamilton.
Williams F1 Team Qulifying Review
Felipe Massa leads an all-Williams front row after an exciting qualifying session for the Austrian Grand Prix today.
. Valtteri led the way from Nico Rosberg until the final moments with a great lap securing his front row position alongside his teammate.
. Today's result is Felipe's first pole position since Brazilian Grand Prix 2008 and the first front row lockout for the team since the German Grand Prix in 2003.
Rob Smedley, Head of Performance Engineering: I am really pleased. The guys have done a very good job. This is just the start of the 71 laps though but we will start in the best position possible. We need to think hard about how we maximise this in terms of points at the end of the race. Tomorrow will be hotter but we know from our long runs where the issues will be that we will face, it will be a defensive race tomorrow as we try to keep everyone else behind us but for the team this is a much deserved result for all the hard work that has been put in both at the factory and race track.
Felipe Massa: It's an incredible moment for me, but the whole team is feeling this too. The team has a great history and we continue to build on that. It's a special day. I had some traffic earlier in the session but when it counted I did the best I could. There is a lot to do tomorrow and we have a very strong Mercedes behind us. Today is a day I won't forget though and it's the first time my son has seen me get pole so emotions are high.
Valtteri Bottas: I am really happy for us as a team as it is such a good result. It couldn't have been a better Saturday for us. I would have liked to have been on pole, but Felipe had the better lap when it mattered. Tomorrow isn't going to be easy as the Mercedes are still the quickest car. I pushed a bit too hard on my final lap at Turn Six, but I was already down on my quickest. Tomorrow the strategy will be important and so we have to be clever with what we do. We are in a better position than the Ferraris and the Red Bull so it should be really good fun.
1. Felipe Massa Williams-Mercedes 1m08.759s2. Valtteri Bottas Williams-Mercedes 1m08.846s +0.0873. Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1m08.944s +0.1854. Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1m09.285s +0.5265. Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull-Renault 1m09.466s +0.7076. Kevin Magnussen McLaren-Mercedes 1m09.515s +0.7567. Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso-Renault 1m09.619s +0.8608. Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 1m10.795s +2.0369. Lewis Hamilton Mercedes10 Nico Hulkenberg Force India-MercedesQ211 Sergio Perez Force India-Mercedes 1m09.754s +0.780s12 Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1m09.780s +0.806s13 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault 1m09.801s +0.827s14 Pastor Maldonado Lotus-Renault 1m09.939s +0.965s15 Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso-Renault 1m10.073s +1.099s16 Romain Grosjean Lotus-Renault 1m10.642s +1.668s
17. Adrian Sutil Sauber-Ferrari 1m10.825s +1.311s18. Esteban Gutierrez Sauber-Ferrari 1m11.349s +1.835s19. Jules Bianchi Marussia-Ferrari 1m11.412s +1.898s20. Kamui Kobayashi Caterham-Renault 1m11.673s +2.159s21. Max Chilton Marussia-Ferrari 1m11.775s +2.261s22. Marcus Ericsson Caterham-Renault 1m12.673s +3.159s