2014 Austrian GP Qualifying: Felipe Massa claims pole as Williams shock Mercedes
Lewis Hamilton spins on decisive Q3 lap and will start ninth as Nico Rosberg takes third; First Williams frontrow lockout since 2003; Sebastian Vettel and Jenson Button both drop out in Q2
By James Galloway
Last Updated: 22/06/14 8:13am
Felipe Massa broke Mercedes' stranglehold on pole position in 2014 as Williams stunned the championship leaders in an Austrian GP qualifying hour that ultimately proved both forgettable - and costly - for Lewis Hamilton.
In an unexpected and dramatic turn of events in the idyllic Styrian mountains on Saturday, Williams, having already served notice of their revitalisation after years in the doldrums on several occasions so far this season, took the fight to the runaway championship leaders and, ironically, their engine suppliers around the challenging Red Bull Ring.
Although Mercedes still appeared to hold a comfortable advantage on the soft tyre on the 4.3km lap, the gap evaporated on the decisive runs on the supersoft in Q3 and gave Williams the chance to cause a memorable upset.
Initially it looked as though Valtteri Bottas would deliver the surprise with a maiden F1 pole as the Finn set the pace on the first runs from Nico Rosberg. However, a mistake on Bottas's next run opened the door for team-mate Massa who ended his near six-year wait for a 16th career pole with a lap of 1:08.759.
Two weeks after the acrimonious collision with Sergio Perez which denied him a possible podium in Canada, Massa's first F1 pole since the 2009 Hungaroring accident which almost ended his career represented something of a cathartic moment for the 33-year-old.
Knocked off the frontrow completely for the first time since F1's switch to turbo engines, Mercedes still took third with Rosberg but in the other car Hamilton, already 22 points adrift of his team-mate in the championship, endured a miserable Q3 with apparent mistakes on both of his fast laps.
The Briton, who had spoken on Friday about putting Rosberg under pressure, first slewed wide into the run-off area at Turn Eight and had his 1:09.300 time deleted following Race Control's clamp down on drivers running off the track with all four wheels over the white line earlier in the day.
Had the time stood then Hamilton would have qualified fifth on the grid, but with no 'banker' lap in the bag, the Briton then consigned himself to a ninth-place starting berth with a unusual-looking spin under braking at Turn Two.
The former World Champion would have started at the foot of the top ten had Nico Hulkenberg's final lap also not been deleted for the same transgression at the tricky Turn Eight.
Hamilton's demise was pounced on by Fernando Alonso, who hustled his Ferrari onto the second row for just the second time this year, while Montreal victor Daniel Ricciardo salvaged fifth on a largely disappointing day for Red Bull at their home race.
The World Champions' difficulties had already been compounded by the sight of Sebastian Vettel dropping out in Q2 for the third time since the start of the German's off-colour season.
Outqualified by Ricciardo for the sixth time in the eight races since the advent of F1's new regulation era, the sport's previously all-conquering driver set only the 13th-quickest lap but will start one place higher as Sergio Perez drops out of 11th owing to his confirmed five-place grid penalty.
Jenson Button will start in Perez's original spot after joining fellow World Champion Vettel in an early exit, the Briton having missed most of P3 with rear-braking problems and then complaining of lost time behind a Lotus in Q2.
The Briton's frustrations were in sharp contrast to young team-mate Kevin Magnussen who claimed a fine sixth, the Dane to start just ahead of Russian rookie Daniil Kvyat who again impressed for Toro Rosso.
Kimi Raikkonen took a low-key eighth as Hamilton and Hulkenberg both failed to set Q3 times.
Having already delivered an unpredictable battle for pole on its return to the F1 calendar after 11 years, Austria and its deceptively tricky circuit looks poised to play host to a 71-lap race which matches the venue's stunning backdrop.This weekend’s Austrian GP is live only on Sky Sports F1. Race Day coverage begins with the Track Parade at 11.30am on Sunday