Austrian Grand Prix Qualifying: Hamilton recovers after difficult start as both Mercedes spin off

Lewis Hamilton took pole position ahead of today’s Austrian Grand Prix in quite dramatic fashion, both drivers had separate spins on their final runs at the end of qualifying which took place in tricky conditions.

It was Hamilton that was on provisional pole position after both drivers registered times in the Q3 shootout by just two tenths of a second. Heading into the first corner on his final effort to improve his time Hamilton spun, leaving the door open for team-mate Nico Rosberg to clinch pole position to capitalize, but it wasn’t to be for the German.

After two sectors, Rosberg and Hamilton in terms of the times were neck and neck. With nothing to lose heading into the final corner Rosberg had a spin of his own thus ending his assault for pole position. Thankfully Rosberg who trails Hamilton in the championship standings by seventeen points managed to keep the car out of the barrier. Rosberg seemed to have the better of Hamilton throughout the session up until the pair’s second effort in Q3.

Mercedes have now taken pole position at every single race over the last twelve months, with Williams being the last team to topple the mighty Mercs at last seasons Austrian Grand Prix. It was pole position number forty five for Hamilton, putting him third in the all time standings and the best chance of a fifth victory in 2015. 

Sebastian Vettel will start the race from third on the grid for Ferrari, his best effort was marginally slower than Rosberg’s best effort. Last season’s Austrian Grand Prix pole sitter Felipe Massa had to settle for fourth place after beating Valtteri Bottas in the sister Williams by just 0.2 of a second.

The Williams pair were separated by the man of the moment and Le Mans 24 Hour victor Nico Hulkenberg, who with a fine effort managed to get his tricky Force India into a mightily impressive 5th for the race. Hulkenberg’s team-mate Sergio Perez could not even make it into the top ten. The Mexican failed to make it past the first hurdle.

After a wet free practice session in the morning, qualifying began in tricky conditions with drivers switching from wet to dry tyres as the session went on, Felipe Nasr in the Sauber was the first driver to switch to the dry tyres.

With the times tumbling it was all change as the session drew towards its climax. The changing conditions meant it would be easy to be caught out which can and usually does produce a big name casualty. Today that casualty was Kimi Raikkonen. The Finn qualified in an embarrassing 18th and used a few choice words over the team radio and let his feelings be known to the team.

Jenson Button’s woes once again continued after he joined Raikkonen, Perez as well as the two Marussia’s in the Q1 drop out zone. Button once led Q1 much to the surprise of everyone, but as the track dried up, so too did any chance of a strong Saturday for the team. Fernando Alonso fought his way into Q2, but ultimately could only manage 15th with both drivers facing penalties heading into the race.

The Toro Rosso pair of Carlos Sainz and Max Verstappen have been making headlines and impressing the paddock all season. In the wet in the morning the pair looked very strong, but it was Verstappen that would come out on top. Verstappen continued his promising start to his career with the seventeen-year old lining up in 7th place for the race with Carlos Sainz in a somewhat disappointing 13th place. 

At Red Bull’s home race a big result is needed. Unfortunately for the team Daniel Ricciardo could only manage 15th place, whilst Danill Kvyat did a good job to take 8th place, it is far from where the team wanted to be. Much like McLaren, both Red Bull cars both will take penalties and will start towards the rear of the field. Not a good look for Red Bull whose owner has once again said the team could walk away from the sport, far from ideal to be starting so far back at the track owned by the team.

Below is the starting grid for today’s Austrian Grand Prix

1Lewis HamiltonMercedes
2Nico RosbergMercedes
3Sebastian VettelFerrari
4Felipe MassaWilliams Mercedes
5Nico HulkenbergForce India Mercedes
6Valtteri BottasWilliams Mercedes
7Max VerstappenSTR Renault
8Felipe NasrSauber Ferrari
9Romain GrosjeanLotus Mercedes
10Pastor MaldonadoLotus Mercedes
11Marcus EricssonSauber Ferrari
12Carlos SainzSTR Renault
13Sergio PerezForce India Mercedes
14Kimi RaikkonenFerrari
15Daniil Kvyat*Red Bull Renault
16Roberto MerhiMarussia
17Will StevensMarussia
18Daniel Ricciardo*Red Bull Renault
19Fernando Alonso**McLaren Honda
20Jenson Button** McLaren Honda

* Penalty