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 ninth. 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. Raikkonen will start eighth while Hamilton will start ninth, as Nico Hullkenberg’s final time was also deleted for exceeding the track limit.
2014 Austrian Grand Prix – Qualifying Result
1 Felipe Massa Williams 1:10.292 1:09.239 1:08.759 19
2 Valtteri Bottas Williams 1:10.356 1:09.096 1:08.846 19
3 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:09.695 1:08.974 1:08.944 17
4 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1:10.405 1:09.479 1:09.285 25
5 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull Racing 1:10.395 1:09.638 1:09.466 22
6 Kevin Magnussen McLaren 1:10.081 1:09.473 1:09.515 29
7 Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso 1:09.678 1:09.490 1:09.619 21
8 Kimi Räikkönen Ferrari 1:10.285 1:09.657 1:10.795 23
9 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:09.514 1:09.092 No time 15
10 Nico Hulkenberg Force India 1:10.389 1:09.624 No time 23
11 Sergio Perez Force India 1:10.124 1:09.754 18
12 Jenson Button McLaren 1:10.252 1:09.780 22
13 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull Racing 1:10.630 1:09.801 15
14 Pastor Maldonado Lotus 1:10.821 1:09.939 18
15 Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso 1:10.161 1:10.073 19
16 Romain Grosjean Lotus 1:10.461 1:10.642 21
17 Adrian Sutil Sauber 1:10.825 10
18 Esteban Gutierrez Sauber 1:11.349 10
19 Jules Bianchi Marussia 1:11.412 9
20 Kamui Kobayashi Caterham 1:11.673 10
21 Max Chilton Marussia 1:11.775 10
22 Marcus Ericsson Caterham 1:12.673 11
eom/FIA press release