Hamilton takes pole in surprising qualifying

By on

Lewis Hamilton has secured pole position for the Austrian Grand Prix in a session that was tense due to the changing track conditions. The shower 10 minutes from the end created interesting conditions and mixed up the grid, with Rosberg second fastest, Hulkenberg third and Button a surprise 5th.

Qualifying for the Austrian Grand Prix kicked off without Nico Rosberg, as the Championship leader was anxiously waiting for his mechanics to finish work on his car, following a rear suspension failure during FP3. The German would join the session 10 minutes late, but easily went fastest on his first attempt.

Sebastian Vettel came closest to the Mercedes driver, doing 3 timed laps on ultra soft tyres before returning to the pits. Lewis Hamilton completed 4 timed laps to go third fastest, ahead of Verstappen, Bottas and Raikkonen. Pascal Wehrlein surprised to go 9th fastest in the Manor.

It wasn't a troublefree session by far though, with Perez slowly returning to the pits 8 minutes from the end, having also incurred a rear wishbone failure after going a bit too wide on the kerbs. 2 minutes from the end, Kvyat did the same, ending into the tyre wall at turn 1 and causing a stoppage of the session with just 1 minute 44s left on the clock.

When the session got restarted, 7 cars that were in the danger zone powered out on track, only to see Carlos Sainz blow up his ending on the run to turn 2, creating another yellow flag and effectively ending the session, as nobody was able to improve on their earlier laps.

The start of Q2 was another busy affair, with drivers being told that rain was to be expected in the next few minutes. It took 8 minutes for the drops to arrive, and by then, the times were set, with Hamilton fastest, ahead of Rosberg as the latter encountered a bit of traffic in the final sector of his fastest run. Vettel was third fastest, ahead of Ricciardo and Verstappen. Hulkenberg and Button meanwhile just made it into Q3, dropping Gutierrez, Wehrlein, Grosjean and Alonso out of contention.

The five fastest man of Q2 also set their best times on soft tyres, making it possible for them to have a longer first stint during the race.

Even though the rain eased off ahead of Q3, the track had turned properly wet, triggering all to go out on intermediates. As the backside of the circuit already was sunny again, Vettel, the first man out on track, went on to set a timed lap while noting there was quite a bit of water on the track. Jenson Button did go out for a lap on softs but soon returned to the pits for intermediates.

The first laps resulted in Vettel being fastest, ahead of Hamilton, Ricciardo and Bottas. Rosberg only went 9th fastest while Verstappen waited in the pits for conditions to improve. What followed was a rapid decrease in laptime and a rapidly drying track.

With 5 minutes left on the clock, sector 3 had nearly dried completely. Round about this time, Hamilton took charge again to top the times, with Button going second fastest, ahead of Ricciardo, Rosberg, Raikkonen, Hulkenberg, Vettel, Massa, Bottas and Verstappen.

Moments later, numerous drivers returned to the pits to try dry tyres, with Hulkenberg the first man to make the switch, followed by Vettel and Hamilton. Nico Rosberg on the other hand opted not to change. At least for another lap, as it turned soon enough it was the wrong move.

With 1 minute 15s left to go, Hulkenberg went fastest, more than a full second ahead of Hamilton. Two more laps on dry tyres followed, with Hulkenberg and Button the last men to cross the finish line.

Times continued to tumble and Hamilton eventually proved fastest to take pole, ahead of Rosberg who managed to limit the damage with a last minute attempt, even though he'll have to take a 5-place penalty for a gearbox change. Hulkenberg went third fastest, followed by Vettel, Button and Raikkonen.


144Lewis HamiltonMercedes1:06.9471:06.2281:07.92221
26Nico RosbergMercedes1:06.5161:06.4031:08.46520
327Nico HulkenbergForce India Mercedes1:07.3851:07.2571:09.28525
45Sebastian VettelFerrari1:06.7611:06.6021:09.78118
522Jenson ButtonMcLaren Honda1:07.6531:07.5721:09.90022
67Kimi RäikkönenFerrari1:07.2401:06.9401:09.90121
73Daniel RicciardoRed Bull Racing Tag Heuer1:07.5001:06.8401:09.98020
877Valtteri BottasWilliams Mercedes1:07.1481:06.9111:10.44018
933Max VerstappenRed Bull Racing Tag Heuer1:07.1311:06.8661:11.15317
1019Felipe MassaWilliams Mercedes1:07.4191:07.1451:11.97721
1121Esteban GutierrezHaas Ferrari1:07.6601:07.578-18
1294Pascal WehrleinMrt Mercedes1:07.5651:07.700-17
138Romain GrosjeanHaas Ferrari1:07.6621:07.850-19
1414Fernando AlonsoMcLaren Honda1:07.6711:08.154-12
1555Carlos SainzToro Rosso Ferrari1:07.618--10
1611Sergio PerezForce India Mercedes1:07.657--5
1720Kevin MagnussenRenault1:07.941--10
1830Jolyon PalmerRenault1:07.965--9
1988Rio HaryantoMrt Mercedes1:08.026--11
2026Daniil KvyatToro Rosso Ferrari1:08.409--8
219Marcus EricssonSauber Ferrari1:08.418--12
2212Felipe NasrSauber Ferrari1:08.446--13

Note - Vettel and Rosberg drop five grid places as penalty for unscheduled gearbox changes.